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TDHN Exclusive: Highlights From Mad Men At The Paley Center


Exactly a week ago, the Paley Center in Manhattan featured a panel with the cast of Mad Men. Fans and the media filled in every sold out seat in the main theatre and the second floor. Despite seeing the festivities through a screen, this was one of the best panels I have ever attended anywhere.

Mad Men’s ensemble cast and crew was represented by the creator Matthew Weiner as well as actors Jon Hamm, Jessica Paré, John Slattery, January Jones, Vincent Kartheiser and Kiernan Shipka. Brian Williams, best known for anchoring NBC Nightly News), shed his serious side and showed his fanboy colors as moderator. Very few secrets for future episodes were revealed, but here are the questions and comments fans will be most interested in:

"White men in suits did just fine"

This quote from Weiner stuck with me long after the discussion turned away from the way 1968 will be protrayed this coming season. The social unrest, anxiety over the future of the country, and the growing anti Vietnam sentiment will be important themes in the rest of Season 6. Most of the characters will be insulated from the worst of the social turmoil, but they will still feel the anxiety of the times.

 Pete the Skunk

Kartheiser tried very hard to defend the indefensible parts of Pete’s personality and actions. He believes Pete is seeing behind the curtain of Don’s work habits. This season for him is more about controlling Don than becoming Don or exceeding his achievements. 

The End Of Mad Men

Weiner knows how the show will end next year, and has told a few select people. “Everyone thinks it will be a disaster”, he joked. These negative opinons mean he will proceed with the current idea.

Don’t Rank The Mistresses

Jon Hamm refused again to answer which of the many women Don has had affairs with was the best or the favorite. He believes Don himself doesn’t even have the ability to judge his experiences in that way. Hamm did point out that many people believe Rachel Menken from Season 1 was different from the rest. Rachel was the only one who did not know Don was married.

The Big Mistake

Mad Men’s writers rarely make factual errors, but a throwaway line in ta recent episode ended up making headine news. Joan tells a friend she will make reservations at Le Cirque, but the iconic Manhattan restarant did not exist until 1974. Weiner apologized profusely for the error and also noted that the reaction shows how much of an impact Mad Men has on current pop culture.

“Why Did Lane Have To Die?”

This was the first question from the audience, and it is by far my favorite because it was the same question I would asked Weiner if I had the chance. He revealed that Lane’s tragic suicide at the end of last season fit with his cultural background. British expatriates were under enormous pressure from family and others to suceed in whatever venture they pursued. Failure was unacceptable, and those who failed could not go back. Lane chose death before facing the consequences of his mistakes and dealing with expectations that that did not match the results.

Sunday’s episode already highlighted some of the trends mentioned at the panel. I’m defnitely looking forward to the rest of Season 6 as well as to the next major Paley Center event. 

Attention Whovians: TDHN Will Cover Gallifrey One!

I’ll be live tweeting/live blogging the awesome happenings at Gallifrey One in Los Angeles this weekend. This convention is one of the largest Doctor Who specific cons in America. count.

Follow our Twitter and track the hashtag #TDHNGally1Diary. These posts will be a fan’s eye view at the panels, special guests, cosplay, and other events. Keep checking our site for long form posts as well. If you’re going to be at Gally and you want to find me, leave a message in the general ask box.


TDHN Exclusive: Chronicles Of Downton Abbey At Strand Bookstore

Last week, NYC’s Strand Bookstore celebrated the release of the second companion book to the series The Chronicles of Downton Abbey. Author Jessica Fellowes was interviewed by Carol Wallace, whose book To Marry An English Lord inspired Downton Abbey.

Chronicles is the sequel to the book The World of Downton Abbey. Both books were written at the same time as filming. While World focused on the overall history and behind the scenes action, Chronicles focuses heavily on the characters. Each chapter focuses on the back stories and history of one or two characters. [As a note, both Chronicles as well as the rest of this article does not contain any Series 3 spoilers.]

Throughout the evening, many behind the scenes filming details were dished out. On the set, the actors pretend to eat in the dining hall scenes because the food is real but often congealed after several hours of filming. Highclere (where the upstairs scenes are filmed) is also incredibly drafty. Once the cameras are off coats are put on.

There was also plenty of insight into the writing process. Julian Fellowes based every character on the premise that people are naturally good natured. Some of the characters are based on the Fellowes family history while others are compilations of people from the period. As an example, O’Brien was based off a maid who was “polite as a courtier and manipulative” to the point of driving away all of her mistresses’ family. Robert’s resistance to change was very typical of those in his position at the time. 

Several hints were dropped of what was to come in Series 3. The economic challenges of running Downton after World War I will form a major plot point. Chronicles foreshadows this by including a map of the estate. The new society required people with skills and business sense, not just a force of nature and inherited leadership.  Cora’s bailout of the state is no longer enough to keep Downton viable. Some of the great houses survived through changes in business practices but others fell into disrepair. Some old homes were saved by the newly rich wishing to appear just like the old aristocracy. In some ways, Jessica Fellowes noted Downton has some apparels with modern society adjusting to rapidly changing technology.

Along with economic changes, Series 3 will also deal with shifts in expectations and roles. Upper class women like Edith wished to do more than household management. Middle and working class women are no longer content with domestic service and childrearing and were moving into the workplace. More women are also earning degrees. For the lower classes, more career options opened up after the war. Thousands left domestic service to pursue a wide variety of career options. In addition, more people were gaining access to education. Anything was possible, and this will be reflected in the storylines of Edith and Daisy in particular.

The Q&A portion of the evening raised several additional points of interest:

- Audience concern over the lack of racial/ethnic diversity has been noted and a new minority character will appear in Series 4. Details are still hazy.

- I asked if fans will see a tiny piece of the Jazz Age/flapper action in Series 3. Unfortunately, it is a few years too early for the trends the 20’s are most remembered for.

- Matthew becomes “magisterial” in upcoming episodes.

- Downton has remained in tact from the first drafts of the script all the way to the pilot. Executive meddling was not a factor in production.

- Whether the injured soldier really was Patrick Crawley or an impostor is a purposeful mystery. No one knows if he will come back in a future episode.

The event was a great way to kick off the final countdown until the Series 3 premiere. Can it be January 6th now?