When confronted with an obstacle, ask yourself, what would Don Draper do? Most likely Don, the lead character in the TV series “Mad Men,” would drink hard liquor. He is a 1960’s cohort of Sean Connery’s James “shaken not stirred” Bond” and a reflection of a time when cocktails were king in America and the three martini lunch fogged brains.
I watched this season’s finale of “Mad Men” and, as was the case last season, I left the sofa unsatisfied until, that is, I read a review that called the last show brilliant. Two points here: (1) if I were an unsatisfied viewer, why did I keep watching the show? ; and (2) “ Mad Men” excels at telling the story of people in search of themselves. Points #1 and #2 are connected.
Don Draper, Peggy, Peter and the rest have disjointed lives—their struggles make me uncomfortable, but I assume people enjoy observing the suffering of others provided there is a glimmer of hope, at least this might explain why I’ve viewed every episode, expecting that Don will have an epiphany. In fact, the last episode feeds this expectation big time. But in the end this is TV where believability usually becomes farce.
As I review popular TV series that fell short on the final episode, I’d have to start with “Seinfeld” followed by “Mash.” In terms of shows that became ridiculous, “24” heads the list as Jack Bauer almost dies for eight seasons. But then there was TV’s 20 years of “Gunsmoke” filled with heroes and villains, literally, in black and white, and the calm of Marshal Matt Dillon. So, I’ve concocted the following showdown between Draper and Dillon. The scene starts with Draper hunched over at the bar at The Long Branch, slurring his words as Dillon walks in slowly—give Matt extra time to reach Draper.
Draper: “What kinda bar dozen-ent serve a martini?” (Draper repeats himself several times until Dillon gently places his massive hand on Draper’s rounded shoulder.
Dillon: “Sounds like you’ve been enjoying something?”
Draper: “I was raz..ed ina whore house.”
Dillon: Maybe you should sleep it off—I’ve got a room for you.”
Draper: “One more, bartender.”
Dillon: “Maybe tomorrow.” Dillon lifts Draper up by the armpit and drags him across the saloon floor, through those swinging doors and out into the noon-day sun while Draper mumbles “creative, creative.”
Now that’s a final episode.