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Mad Men – “Babylon”

“Babylon”

Season One, Episode Six

In the world of Mad Men, normalcy is the goal: for Don Draper, it’s bringing his wife breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Of course, as he travels up the stairs, he losing his footing and everything smashes around him. Cue the flashback to his brother’s birth, and another sign that Donald Draper’s life is a giant lie just waiting to be smashed like the falling breakfast tray.

Yes, the opening of “Babylon” is not exactly subtle, but this is an episode that is all about the hidden becoming revealed, the secrets becoming part of common knowledge. The central attempt to commodify Israel into a tourism destination for Americans is about taking a secret and turning it into common knowledge, but there the ad men get to put their spin on it; the facts are one thing, but with the right treatment they can become something far more profound. This episode is about the people who need to spin their own lives, and the one person who’s about to start spinning for others.

And in the meantime, you’re stuck in exile; and as a series about people who find themselves searching to avoid such a position, Mad Men flourishes.

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The Top 10+ Pleasant Surprises of the 2008 Emmy Top 10s

The Top 10 Pleasant Surprises of the Top 10s

[If I was currently wearing a hat, I would take it off in honour of Tom O’Neill’s continued amazing work gathering up leaks in regards to the Top 10 lists of semi-finalists for the Emmy Awards panels taking place over the next few weeks. While he doesn’t have the complete list, I’m willing to go out and indicate the 10 choices (In no particular order, but the top 2 probably are) that actually make me optimistic about the show’s relevancy (Before, admittedly, taking a look tomorrow at the ones that give me no hope at all).]

1. Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)

Category: Lead Actress, Drama Series

Last year when writing up my For Your Consideration posts, I said the following about Mary McDonnell’s work as President Laura Roslin on my favourite Sci-Fi series:

“What I love about Mary McDonnell’s portrayal of the character is that, without fail, you are always rooting for Laura Roslin to succeed except for those moments where she is clearly wrong. In those cases, McDonnell makes you want to see Roslin get let down as easily as possible, in order to ensure that she isn’t too damaged in the process.”

This is even more true this season, where her character finds her cancer back and where a whole new perspective is reached. Her performance in “Faith” is heart-wrenching, and that panels will finally get to see an episode of this fantastic series in the Top 10 warms my frakking heart. This is one of those surprises that gives you faith that the Emmys are willing to recognize performances off the beaten path, if you will, and they don’t get much better than this.

2. Zeljko Ivanek (Damages)

Category: Supporting Actor, Drama Series

When previewing this category, I lamented the likely lack of recognition for Damages other supporting actor contender:

“While he seemed fairly minimal in most instance, sparring with Patty or reasoning with Frobisher, Ivanek burst into the main narrative with “I Hate These People.” Without falling into total spoiler territory, the character took a sudden turn to the tragic, a dramatic fall that was more compelling than anything the other supporting characters went through.”

That he broke through was a highlight for me, a sign that people were watching all of Damages and not just the show’s pilot. Ivanek may have had accent issues, and certainly the show wasn’t near perfect, but his performance in his submission is simply stunning, and I can only hope voters enjoy the time they have with this amazing piece of work.

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