The Watch List – 01/29/2013

There’s a lot of good television/film commentary out there, so I thought I’d start a weekly digest of all the best links I stumble upon. This will replace my weekly Mad Men links (back when it was on). Hope you enjoy!

- The series finale of “30 Rock” is this week, and the Chicago Tribune has a writeup of Tina Fey’s success. Plus, Rolling Stone has the show’s best one-liners. And Vulture imagines Jenna Mulroney’s fake relationship with Mickey Rourke in vivid illustrations. 

- “Mad Men” season six promo photos have been released. There will be sideburns.

- The Awl has a fantastic piece on why The O.C. was so wonderful. A quote from This American Life’s Ira Glass: “I’m 47 years old. I’m a grown-ass man, you know? We’re a married couple. Sober. We are sober, singing the theme to a FOX show. And I have got to say, every single week it makes me love my wife, and love TV, and love everything in the world all at once. And last week, when ‘The O.C.’ went off TV, I cried. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.”

- Sundance’s faces of defeat.

- Are you caught up on things that have happened on “Downton Abbey”? If so, here are some historical perspective from Vulture (spoilers abound in the link). Plus: Downton reimagined as a Super Nintendo game.

- On judging and loving Zooey Deschanel.

- “Pride and Prejudice” celebrated its 200th birthday this week, and NPR created a nifty cartoon.

- The Kanye West Wing.

- The sun never sets on the Kardashian empire — Kris Jenner is getting her own talk show.

- I finally recently watched “Bill Cunningham New York” for my documentary class, and Roger Ebert has a fantastic writeup of the film.

- “House of Cards” will be Netflix’s first original series. Will you watch it?

- The intersecting narratives of “Nashville.”

- A Rookie compilation of movies and shows about fairytales and myths. (mainly posting for ’90s Ryan Gosling’s hair). 

- Finally: There’s a tumblr devoted to the Claire Danes Cryface.

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10 Reactions from Leonardo DiCaprio Characters on Yet Another Oscar-less Year

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10. “Be satisfied!”

“I defy you stars!”

“The world is not thy friend.”

- Romeo Montague

9. “it hits you like a thousand knives stabbing you all over your body. You can’t breathe. You can’t think. At least, not about anything but the pain.”

- Jack Dawson

8. “No, I gotta get out. I can’t be doing this anymore. You know what’s gonna happen?”

Billy Costigan

7. “Quarantine. Q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e. Quarantine.”

Howard Hughes

6. “You’re a reporter, eh? Well piss off!”

- Danny Archer

5. “I want to feel things. Really feel them.”

- Frank Wheeler

4. “The earth turns, but we don’t feel it more. And one night you look up. One spark and the whole sky is on fire.”

- Amsterdam Vallon

3. “You’re waiting for a train. A train that’ll take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you. But you can’t know for sure. Yet it doesn’t matter.”

- Dom Cobb

2. “Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

- Richard

1. “Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse, wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out. Gentlemen, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.”

- Frank Abagnale, Jr.

Photo via.

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This is me saying hello again

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After a really loooong hiatus involving one of the tougher semesters I’ve had in grad school, I’m back.

Expect a few posts coming up soon regarding the Oscars, romcoms and why I hate-watch “Once Upon a Time.”

I’ve missed you guys — thanks for sticking around.

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Breaking Bad Wishlist for Season 5.2

First, a thank-you note: Major, major thanks to WordPress for including my post about Breaking Bad and Walter’s “Song of Myself” on their Freshly Pressed page last night! I am really honored to be included in the roundup. If you are new here, thank you for stopping by and welcome!

Now that we have a year or so before the last half of season 5, I’ve been thinking quite a bit on some of the loose ends and uncertainties that the show has introduced, and how these plot possibilities may come into play later. Shows like “Breaking Bad” are a like a slow burn, meaning it can take seasons before seemingly-innocuous scenes show deeper meaning to the overall story. Sunday’s “Gliding Over All” found Hank discovering Walter’s involvement in the Heisenberg case when Hank finds an inscribed copy of “Leaves of Grass” to Walt from Gale Boetticher; these references to Walt Whitman and “W.W.” were built up over seasons. Here is my humble wishlist for some of the storylines that I wish to see resolved in the next eight episodes:

- Hank vs. Walt showdown. This setup seems to be inevitable after Hank’s discovery in “Gliding over All.” Hank has always been a foil for Walter throughout the show. Though he’s started out as a stereotypical brash, tough guy, Hank’s injuries (physical and in his career) have helped him become a shrewd, careful investigator. There’s been some debate among fans and reviewers that as Walt descends into his Scarface-esque Heisenberg persona, Hank has become the real good-guy hero of the show. What will be interesting to see is how he handles this “W.W.” revelation: will he take it to the DEA, or do some solo investigating first? What implications will this have on his career and his personal life? And was Walter’s assault rifle in the season 5 “Live Free or Die” flash-forward intended for Hank?

- Jesse to find out about … everything, ever. Poor Jesse. More than any other character on the show, he’s lost so much in the way of relationships, but despite all this, he seems to have become the moral compass of the show (as witnessed by his reactions to the injustices toward children in “Peekaboo,” “Half Measures,” “End Times” and “Dead Freight”). Just as Hank’s revelation about Heisenberg has been built up from the beginning of the series, it seems inevitable that Walter’s lies about his involvement in the deaths of Jane, Mike and the poisoning of Brock will eventually unravel and Jesse will know all. How will Jesse handle the truth? Will he join forces with the DEA or Hank, come after Walt’s family, or simply leave town? So many interesting possibilities.

- Skyler to flail on her loyalties to Walt vs. the rest of her family. She’s proven in the fifth season that she’s quite the momma bear when it comes to protecting her children — even going as far as faking a suicide attempt in order to get the White children over to Casa de Schrader for most of the season. What will happen if Hank snoops around her for clues? Will she remain steadfast in her commitment in her marriage to Walt, now that he’s out of the meth game? Or will she “protect this family from the man who protects this family,” and spill on Walt’s “gambling problem” in exchange for witness protection and immunity?

- A flashback on Gus’ backstory. After Gus’ death, the show focused on the former Hermano’s drug business connections in Germany with the Madrigal company, and the fallout with those associations. Though it seems somewhat unlikely now since the first half of the fifth season barely mentioned much of Gus’ personal life (as opposed to Gus’ meth empire legacy), I’d still like to see or find out what exactly happened in Chile that caused Gus to become notorious with the cartel. Any way to get Giancarlo Esposito back on the show would be welcome.

-  Someone to die from the ricin. This might be the most-anticipated weapon in television right now, as that little vial has made appearances throughout the series but has never been used (it was first intended for Tuco in season 1; almost used on Gus in season 4 and Lydia in season 5; and was the accused weapon for Brock’s poisoning in season 4). How much longer will that Chekhov prop (as it’s been referred to on forums as a suspenseful plot device) languish hidden in Walter’s electrical outlet?

- More Saul. We need more wisdom and wit from our favorite criminal criminal lawyer. We saw him flail a little bit this season when Walt pressured him in staying as an accomplice to the meth business. What will Saul do now that Hank will (presumably) be chasing Walt’s case?

- Something bad to happen to Walt Jr. or baby Holly. This inclusion probably makes me sound like the biggest jerk ever. I don’t have anything against R.J. Mitte’s acting or anything like that, but it’s become somewhat improbable that Walter Jr. hasn’t found out that much about his father’s meth dealings. I don’t think Walt Jr. should be be played so clueless anymore as to not question the fancy new car-buying, the fast cancer website donations and the “gambling addiction” story. And wouldn’t it be interesting for Walter, a man supposedly hellbent on protecting his family (to the point of almost destroying it), to lose one of his children or have something terrible happen to them because of his actions? New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum  has mentioned how the show features the tragedy of children involved in the drug business — whether they are movers (Tomas, Andrea’s brother who shoots Combo and later gets killed himself), victims in death/illness (Jane Margolis, Brock), or as the children of drug users (the redhead toddler from “Peekaboo”). Walter’s children have virtually been immune from the horrors of the ABQ drug underworld since Walter started cooking, and it would be tragic irony to see Walter Jr. or Holly get caught up somehow in the violence of the meth business. It would also be interesting to see some of those Chekhov props — the car, the ricin, the pool — used in this somehow. It could also be a sad plot twist to see Walter Jr. start using meth (and could explain why he’s always hanging out with his friend Lewis).

And now, since we’ve got like a whole year before the next episodes, I thought I’d do a link roundup of interesting things people have been saying about the show this week. I’ll be updating this post as I find them. Happy reading!

- Need a recap? These guys got ‘em: Grantland, Hitfix, VultureSlate, A.V. Club, Basket of Kisses,Entertainment Weekly, Zap 2 It, Wall Street Journal, Forbes. Also, the Television Without Pity forums are blowing up on this episode, so you should take a look.

- A redditor predicted how Hank would find out about a month ago, with images. Pretty impressive.

- Check out this amazing periodic table-style infographic that TDYLF made of all the “Breaking Bad” deaths thus far. My favorite is the graphic for Hector Salamanca, complete with a tiny little bell.

- Another Nussbaum piece: The power of the cliffhanger in modern television.

- I’m late to this piece, but it is interesting: a roundup of all the Chekhov props used on the show.

- Gif/image gallery: A closeup of Hank’s discovery, a reaction to seeing the fly again, a crudely-drawn Vince Gilligan, and a really great roundup of all the repeated ‘de ja vu’ compositions on the show.

Breaking Bad image via.

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Breaking Bad and Walter White’s “Song of Myself”

“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” – Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass

Disclosure: As Jesse Pinkman might say, this writeup has mad spoilers for the half-season finale, yo. Read at your own risk.

“Breaking Bad” has made many allusions to poet Walt Whitman’s work and the show writers have connected these poems to the actions of the show’s anti-hero, the closely-named Walter White. In seasons 3 and 4, Walt’s relationship with his would-be-meth-lab-turned-murder victim Gale Boetticher is summed up in Gale’s notebook scribblings of “When I heard the learn’d astronomer.” These notes are later found by Walt’s DEA brother-in-law Hank, who wonders who the elusive “W.W.” is, and Walt quickly pins Gale’s notebook worship on the poet, and not on himself.

the original heisenberg?

Walt Whitman, in a hat that Heisenberg would covet.

The Whitman influence was never as potent as last night’s half-season finale, “Gliding Over All,” when Hank finds out who the real “W.W.” is after he skims an inscribed copy of  “Leaves of Grass” (once given by Gale to Walter)  that was left rather carelessly in Walter’s bathroom, presumably left there by Walt (perhaps for some late-night commode sessions). The episode was all about Walter making his family “legitimate” (Michael Corleone-style) as he “Godfather”-ed a hit on Gus’ old crew in jail and made good on his promise to Skyler that their family could reap safety and security in Walt’s meth-sowing.  The episode is named for a Whitman poem, and the title seems to reference Walter’s deity-like power in creating and controlling deaths around him:

“GLIDING o’er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing,
The voyage of the soul–not life alone,
Death, many deaths I’ll sing.”

With all of these Whitman references, it’s not hard to imagine that perhaps Walter has been taking cues from the poem “Song of Myself” throughout this season and it would perhaps give better insight to his actions. “Song of Myself,” a poem found in “Leaves of Grass,” is a celebration of self — as an omniscient, universal form of self. By all means, I am no Whitman scholar or expert, but after reading this poem, it seems prescient in Walter’s actions this season. Let’s take a look at some of the lines, shall we?

“I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume”

“If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread
of my own body”

This entire season has been about Walter assuming his alter-ego Heisenberg fulltime in the aftermath of Gus’ murder. He becomes cocksure in his words and actions with his partners Jesse and Mike. Walter lords over Skyler and keeps her captive and complicit in their marriage. He buys himself expensive cars and flaunts large purchases to  Hank. Walter’s ego has become godlike.

“I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.”

Walter is 51 years old and he’s nowhere near perfect health because of his yearlong battle with cancer — this much is true. However, he finds a certain stamina from continuing to cook meth. Even when he gets out of debt to Jesse and makes thousands (and later, presumably millions as evidenced by Skyler’s mad stacks of storage unit cash), Walter finds great joy in cooking and tries to drive his partners to continue even when it becomes increasingly dangerous to stay in the business. Walter has escaped death many times on the show, and he himself has been the cause or catalyst for death. Until last night’s episode, he probably would have continued cooking until his death, if not for Skyler’s insistence to stop.

“I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.”

Walter’s narcissism is out of control this season. He threatens new business associates. And when his partners are out (Mike murdered by Walter’s hand and Jesse through his own decision to get the hell out), Walter is nature without check. “”There is no ‘we,’ Jesse,” Walter tells his former partner in the final episode. “I am the only vote left.” This is never more clear when Walter orders a massive jail hit, seemingly inspired by “The Godfather” when Michael Corleone orders the deaths of the heads of the five Mob families. He’s taken cues from gangster movies this season, and has become a don, a god, in his own mind. Walter White is a mere mortal, but Heisenberg could live forever in the “empire-making business.”

“I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.”

“I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised
and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.”

“I wear my hat as I please indoors or out.”

“I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face,
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.”

Walter’s anxiety over getting caught in the meth-making business has been one of his defining characteristics on the show. He’s gone to great lengths to keep his identity secret throughout the show, including wearing masks  (perhaps most notably when he and Jesse kidnapped Saul in season 2, and in the season 5 opener during the magnets heist). But throughout most of this season, his ego has made him not only thirsty for recognition, but seemingly untouchable and reckless with his identity getting caught up in this. Walter brings the methylamine supply to the car wash. He leaves Gale’s book in his bathroom with the damning inscription. He asks for recognition from other drug lords (“Say my name,” he demands in the penultimate season 5 episode to Declan, Mike’s meth contact. “You’re Heisenberg.” “You’re goddamn right.”). Perhaps the most symbolic imagery of Walter’s love of his alter-ego is when he chooses to wear his Heisenberg hat (once reserved only for drug deals) out in public throughout season 5.

“What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children? … They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death … All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses …”

The drug business is a dirty one, and Walter has to make justifications throughout the series for the deaths that happen. He tells Skyler that Gus’ death was necessary. He tries to comfort Jesse that the deaths they’ve caused (including a child’s) were necessary to making it in their meth empire.

“Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious?”

“I am given up by traitors,
I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the
greatest traitor,
I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me
there”

“Enough! enough! enough!
Somehow I have been stunn’d. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuff’d head, slumbers,
dreams, gaping,
I discover myself on the verse of a usual mistake.”

Walt refuses to kowtow to anyone throughout this season — to his partners, to his lawyer, to his wife’s pleas, to the new business associates.  And when others refuse to venerate Walter, he shuts them out of his world. He sees them as enemies. He’s cold to Jesse when his partner wants out. And when Mike tries to knock Walter down  few notches for not knowing “his place.” “You owe me that much,” Walt tells Mike when he demands gratitude and the names of the Gus’ prisoned men. “I don’t own you a damn thing,” Mike gristles back. Walter impulsively kills Mike, and stunned at his actions, shows some remorse for doing so (“I’m sorry, Mike. This whole thing could have been avoided.”).

“The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are
with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I
translate into a new tongue.”

This line from Whitman’s poem could very well speak to the season opener in which a flash-forward reveals Walter celebrating his 52nd birthday tearing up bacon (a Skyler birthday tradition to him) under a new alias and buying an assault rifle for some unknown reason. Walter’s birthdays have served as poignant reminders of how far he’s progressed on the show, and this vague flash-forward suggests he’s in a hell of his own making and he’s gearing up for some kind of showdown.

“Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demonstration!”

“He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the
teacher.”

I laughed when I saw this. This recalls all of Jesse’s “Yeah, science!” moments, including the magnet heist earlier this season. In addition, this also touches on Walter’s ego. He’s always been a softy when it comes to teaching; he revels in passing along his demonstration of chemistry to Jesse, to Gale and later to Todd. He likes recognition for his intelligence, a characteristic of his ego. We see it when he accidentally pushes Hank back to working on the Heisenberg case when he asserts that Gale was not the famed meth cook. It’s apparent when Walt keeps Gale’s copy of “Leaves of Grass” because it’s a reminder of someone once worshiping Walter’s mind. This may lead to his downfall, as Hank has now discovered that inscription.

“I give the sign of democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their
counterpart of on the same terms.”

Walter negotiates a deal with Declan in which “everybody wins,” meaning Mike gets $5 million and out of the business. In the end, no one got what they wanted except for Walt. Mike loses money and gets killed; Jesse gets out but loses his share and his relationship with Walt.

“I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid
and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.”

“So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in
their possession.”

Walter spends a lot of time contemplating the existence of flies on this show; they’ve made appearances during key moments, like when Walter shuts down the lab in season 3 when he sees the fly as a contaminant. The fly seems to symbolize Walt’s sense of his own rottenness in being involved in the meth game. In season 5’s “Glided Over All,” he merely watches one for a few minutes after he’s killed Mike and makes no move to get rid of it this time. The fly is no longer a contaminant, but Walter is now the contaminated one and rotten.

And finally, there are many more lines in “Song of Myself” that could be applied here, but I will leave you with the most quoted ones:

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Creator Vince Gilligan has said many times that “Breaking Bad” is about turning Mr. Chips into Scarface. Walter has wrestled with his identity during the entirety of the show — from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher with cancer to a meth kingpin. Now that he’s made his choice to go “legitimate” and give up the business presumably for good, it remains to be seen how his former Heisenberg identity will leave residue on Walter and his family, as Hank now knows the truth about the multitudes that Walter contains in his contradictory personality.

What did you think of this finale, and the Walt Whitman references? What are you most looking forward to in the last half-season?

“Breaking Bad” image viaWalt Whitman image via.

 

Update, 4:45pm: I wasn’t able to catch the full inscription on first watch, but Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall linked to a nice gif of Hank figuring out the identity of “W.W.” in the copy of “Leaves of Grass.” The inscription apparently reads:

“To my other favorite W.W.

It’s an honour working with you.

Fondly

G.B.”

Update, 9/04: WordPress included this post on their “Freshly Pressed” page — very excited and honored about that! If you are new to Film Rascal, thank you for stopping by and welcome!

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Mad Monday Links: “Commissions and Fees”

Image I’m still processing what happened on last night’s episode — much of what happened has been foreshadowed during the season, but nonetheless it was still difficult to watch. Anyway, here are the links — because this episode had so much going on, the links are mostly only dealing with this episode.

As always, major spoilers in the links if you have not seen this episode yet:

- Need a recap? Try Huffington Post, A.V. ClubSeattle Times, WSJ, Tom and LorenzoNJ Star LedgerWashington PostHitfix, LA Times, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, NY Times, Baltimore Sun.

- If you need a forum, Television Without Pity is on fire today.

- This is awesome: Barbie + Season 5 “Mad Men” character arcs.

- Pieta: The comments section on Basket of Kisses’ recap points out the Christ imagery surrounding Lane throughout this episode.

- Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall inteviews actor Jared Harris about Lane’s decision.

- Grantland‘s Mark Lisanti has Don and Roger on top in the weekly power rankings; Molly Lambert discusses guilt and loss.

- The many faces of Lane this episode.

- AMC has an interview up with Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper) on Sally’s clothes and show marathons. In addition, Janie Bryant shares costuming choices for last week’s episode, “The Other Woman.”

- CNN: Are you there, God? It’s Me, Sally Draper — on the woes of growing up.

- Zap2It discusses Sally’s city visit with Glen, and Kenneth’s one-upsmanship.

- Slate ponders whether Don was responsible, and the episode writers weigh in on the hardest decision they’ve ever made on the show.

- Pictures Words and Sounds picks up on Don’s constant theme of not catching onto things until it’s too late this season.

 – And finally: TV.com has a peek into the Sally Draper Diaries.

- [06/06 edited to add]: Here’s Tom and Lorenzo’s style analysis of this episode. Lots to say about Lane’s clothes.

Photo via AMC.

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Favorite moments from season 2 of Game of Thrones

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I’m still currently working on that summer project where I’ll dissect the social media around episode 9, “Blackwater.”  I should have my final report done and I’ll share some of the findings here.

But for now, as the final episode “Valar Morghulis” is underway, I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments of this season:

 – Jaime Lannister’s escape from the Starks’ camp. Watching Jaime revel in a young prisoner’s admiration for Jaime’s Kingsguard days — much like Jaime did for Barristan the Bold in season 1 — and then watching Jaime murder the young man to serve his escape plan was nothing short of amazing acting.

- Tyrion and Cersei’s interactions. Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage have been phenomenal in their sibling roles as   Tyrion and Cersei have schemed around each other this season. Tyrion has proved himself a formidable Hand of the King, but it doesn’t stop Cersei from trying to hurt him by capturing and torturing the woman she believes is Tyrion’s lover (And Tyrion’s response is fantastic here: ” I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you’re safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.”).  With Joffrey still on the throne after “Blackwater” and Tywin now back in King’s Landing, it will be interesting to see how Tyrion’s lot will change in the capitol.

- Arya and Heron Hall: Maisie Williams has been killin’ it this season as Arya, and with every character she’s interacted with while held up at Heron Hall — Tywin, Gendry, Hot Pie. I’ve especially loved her scenes with Jaqen H’ghar and watching him carry out her assassination requests. It was also interesting to see the depths of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world as H’ghar insists that Arya choose three people for him to kill (“The Red God takes what is his, lovely girl. And only death may pay for life”), as it was a part of his Faceless Man philosophy.

- Theon’s transformation. From Winterfell ward to Iron Island prodigal son to Prince of Winterfell, Theon’s transformation to prove himself to his Greyjoy family has made him a crazy wild card in the War of the Five Kings. His hunger for acceptance is apparent in “A Man Without Honor”: “I’m looking at spending the rest of my life being treated like a fool and a eunuch by my own people. Ask yourself: Is there anything I wouldn’t do to stop that from happening?”

- The entire “Blackwater” episode. It’s amazing HBO and the show were able to put together as many special effects in there with such a small budget.

What have been your favorite moments this season? What are you looking forward to in season 3?

Photo via.

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Mad Monday Links – “The Other Woman”

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Apologies for a late “Mad Monday” post, though it has allowed me to include so many good links on this past episode (and if there ever were an episode to analyze, it’s this one). As always, there are no spoilers listed below,  but if you click on a link, you’re sure to bump into one (or 10) of them. Enjoy!

- Recaps abound: NPR, NY Times, HitFix,The A.V. ClubHuffington PostHollywood Reporter, Entertainment WeeklyAMC, Seattle Times, LA Times,  Forbes.

- It’s a rarity that Don isn’t at the top of Grantland’s power rankings, but he’s at a shaky #3 this week.

- Vulture: What’s in Mad Men’s rearview mirror? Every other drama on television. (thanks for the tip, Katy!)

- Pete Campbell being called a “grimy little pimp” a few weeks ago has never been so true.

- More on Ginsberg’s insight into the Jaguar pitch.

- WSJ touches on Megan’s acting career, and that uncomfortable casting audition.

- On Tom and Lorenzo’s lawnmower shock factor scale (1 lawnmower being marriage infidelity, and 5 being the “guy walks into an advertising agency and loses his foot to a lawnmower” scene), this was a 10-lawnmower episode.

- (5/30 edited to add): And here’s Tom and Lorenzo’s Mad Style analysis of this episode. Interesting to note: Pete wears a black suit (!!!), and Joan wears her furs from Roger.

- Slate tackles the choices of Peggy and Joan; Don’s grim acceptance and what Ken Cosgrove might do.

- Don and Peggy’s relationship in photos is heartbreaking.

- Bitch Magazine does a really great gender analysis of this episode.

- Basket of Kisses expounds on the elusive Mr. Chaough (I stumbled spelling on that — he really does have too many syllables in there!), and the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in even modern corporate workplaces.

- Salon muses on feminist themes and suggests that Joan did the right thing.

- And here are some Peggy and Joan moments of many seasons past (I think these scenes chart their relationship — and work philosophies — quite beautifully).

Photo via AMC.

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The night is dark and full of tweets: The social media around Game of Throne’s “Blackwater”

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It is no secret that I am a huge fan of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” I’m currently reading the book series, watching the show, reading spoiler wikis, and am possibly putting together an Arya Stark costume for Halloween this year. I am sure I am constantly annoying my real-life friends with references to khaleesis, wildlings and who would win in a “Best Hair” competition: Robb or Daenerys.

I am not the only fan with such fervor, and with the second season drawing to a close, the online discussion for this show is hitting a fever pitch. Season two’s penultimate episode, “Blackwater,” which airs this Sunday, has already garnered lots of anticipation for its plot significance, as well as the logistics (high budget and CGI usage) to make the battle scenes come alive. The Wall Street Journal reported that the show’s second season budget was upped to $69 million (up from the previous season’s $60 million) and a lot of it was reportedly going toward this “Blackwater” episode.  Considering what happened in the first season’s penultimate episode, “Baelor,” (link contains major spoilers), it’s no surprise that this show has garnered such critical praise and word-of-mouth buzz.

I’m interested in that buzz, particularly the online conversation that goes on when big television shows combine heavy online promotion with plot-important episodes. I’m particularly interested in looking at Twitter, because of its easy communication access between the show (HBO, actors, etc.) and fans.

When UGA’s Grady College began offering a Network Analysis class, I knew that I’d want to study one of my favorite shows and the social media surrounding it. In network analysis, we’re taking a look at social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.), and tracking data (tweets, popular words, big influencers, links, follows, friendships, tags), and are trying to understand the relationships between users (it involves making really intricate, beautiful charts and graphs). Who’s following who? Who clicked on what link based on the recommendation of this user? Who’s talking about this show? And how fast is that conversation going? There are enough riddles here to make Varys giddy with glee.

Much like a sweet summer child, I thought it’d be easy: type in a few keywords, click a few buttons, put in a few weights, and presto! Being able to understand the online conversation surrounding Westeros and beyond.

What I’ve found so far is that “Game of Thrones” is really, really popular. So popular, that my data collection (when set at a 1,000 limit) for “Game of Thrones” only tracked information on Twitter for less than an hour because of how fast the conversation was moving. In addition, with the kind help of my professor, I was able to collect Youtube data as well (tags and commenters for “Game of Thrones” and “Winter is coming”), but that information was difficult to collect because a) the keywords kept bringing up a large data set and b) once those data sets were procured, they kept crashing when I tried to open them. In other words, lots of people want to search/watch/discuss this show on Youtube (which is probably propelled by the fact that people try to watch around HBO’s subscription services through streaming/other online outlets). All this for a premium cable show that’s only been on for two seasons. Compare this to a test data collection set for the 23-year-old network show “The Simpsons,” which was collected from our software quickly like it was no big thing.

Much like Jon Snow, I don’t know what I’ll find beyond the wall of social media, but I do know that I’ll be eagerly watching “Blackwater” this weekend, keeping my ears open for new catchphrases, and my laptop open for data collection. I’ll be sure to share some of my findings soon here!

HBO fan poster via.

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Puttin’ on the Glitz: Baz Luhrmann’s “Great Gatsby”

This trailer encompasses many things I love: Baz Luhrmann, movies that show epic party scenes, young-looking Leo, F. Scott Fitzgerald and classic American literature. Luhrmann’s proven his creative prowess with big, fancy productions (“Romeo + Juliet,” “Moulin Rouge”), so it’s easy to see that he’d handle the opulence of the 1920s Jazz Age with all the right glitz and glamour. My only concern? I do hope that the movie can capture the novel’s darker themes with the characters’ malaise with the crumbling American dream (and after DiCaprio’s performance in “Revolutionary Road,” I think he’s a great fit for the enigmatic Gatsby).

Below are a few of my favorite “Great Gatby” quotes from the novel:

- “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

- “And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out Daisy’s light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.”

Are you going to see this film? Do you have a favorite book-to-movie adaptation?

Video via.

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