‘Mad Men’ opening day, ‘Luck’ season finale

The words that I’ve been using to describe the season opener of Mad Men are “jarring and fascinating.” The show has constantly evolved in character and look, but you’ll never notice it more than in the leap forward it has taken between its last season, which ended 17 months ago, and tonight’s season-five premiere. So some of it comes as a shock to the system, but at the same time, you’ll see the logic behind every move of the many pieces on showrunner Matthew Weiner’s chessboard, while feeling a great deal of anticipation for what’s to come. There’s also some pretty sly humor mixed in with the darkness and tumult, I will say.

Meanwhile, a less successful but still intriguing show wraps up its first and last season tonight. The final episode of Luck lays out all its strengths and weaknesses. Some of the characters are extremely compelling – Kevin Dunn as Marcus particularly shines in the finale – but others are a mixed bag, including Dustin Hoffman’s Ace, who is played almost like what might have happened if his Rain Man character had gotten, say, 65 percent of the social skills he’d ideally have. Above all, though, the cinematography of the final race is beyond spectacular. Of course, the reliance on horses is what ultimately sowed the seeds of the show’s demise, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any program that had more appreciation for the artistry of the animals. Luck will occupy a place in the middle range of HBO shows of the past several years for me, but I don’t regret watching it.

My Variety colleagues and I will be talking Mad Men and other TV in a live chat Monday starting at approximately 9:45 a.m. I’ll post a link when I have it – join us then, but feel free to have any initial discussion here tonight.

  • Anonymous

    And to lead in to “Mad Men” something unrelated. I believe there was only one entry in the Dodger Thoughts NCAA Tournament pool that was 4 for 4 on Final Four teams. 

    Me!

    But, I’m just in second place. The entry in first (KWUTT’s 2nd Bracket) can’t win though.

    If Kentucky beats Ohio State in the final, the winner is Bring Out the Gimp. If Kentucky beats Kansas in the Final, the winner is Blue Velvet Jonez. If Louisville plays Kansas in the final, Live from NY wins regardless of the winner. If Louisville plays Ohio State in the final, I will win regardless of the winner. I also win if Ohio State beats Kentucky in the final.
    Live from NY wins if Kansas is the champion.

    • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

       Incredible. Don’t know how you did it.

      • Anonymous

        Usually I try to pick one team that I actually like and would want to see win it. This year, I decided to go with the All Hatred Final Four.

    • Anonymous

      Wow!  Kudos.

  • Anonymous

    I am a great fan of Dazzy Vance and of his amazing 1924 season which is still the best of any Brooklyn/LA pitcher except Sandy Koufax although Kershaw obviously has the potential.
    B-R has Vance throwing 308.1 innings; but, if you look at the box-scores they provide there are only 3 part innings all 2/3 so the .1 in the 308.1 is wrong. Vance had 1 relief appearance of 4 innings- the last 4 of a 12 inning game in which Vance got the win. Using the B-R stats that leaves 304 innings in 34 starts which figures to 8.94 innings per start. (Jon had a number over 9 in the previous thread possible using a source other than B-R.) One of Vance’s starts, btw, lasted only 1 inning but he came back 2 days later to win a 3 hit 1 run complete game. After his 4 inning relief appearance he pitched 2 days later but lost an 11 inning complete game. He then came back 3 days later to again lose by 5-4 this time going 9 2/3 innings. 
    Brooklyn had been in 4th place 13 games behind a great NY Giants team as late as August 9 but went 34-10 to tie the Giants on September 22. Vance’s second 5-4 loss that I mentioned was on September 23 and the Brooklyn team known as the Robins never had a share of 1st again in the few days remaining. Vance went 28-6.  

  • Anonymous

    Of course Dazzy’s season was nothing compared to Will White with the 1879 Cincinnati Reds. Will, 24 years old at the time, still holds the single season records for most innings pitched, games started and complete games. Of the 726 innings pitched by his team that season, he finished 680 of them (an astounding 93.6%). He won 43 and lost 31 games that year, completing everyone of the 75 games he started! Sure, he lost 42 games the following year, but beyond that he won 40, 43, 34 games several years later. And then he was pretty much done. Those records however, I feel confident, will not be broken any time soon…

    So, let’s see Kershaw pitch over 90% of the innings pitched by the Dodgers this year – and then maybe we will be getting somewhere…

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT