Nancy Sinatra, You Only Live Twice, Mad Men Season Finale

Mad Men is a hell of a show.  When it first premiered, I was intrigued because I loved the Sopranos, and knew that Matthew Weiner, one of that shows head writers, was behind its creation.  At first I wasn’t hooked.  I thought many of the characters were overly stylized and inauthentic.  I also thought much of the first season’s hook was portraying the chauvinistic and racist world that world that was very much in full swing in the early 1960s.  So, after a few episodes, I stayed away from Mad Men, casually sympathizing with those who thought the show to be an over-hyped and empty experience.  The show drew me back though after the conclusion of season 2.  I had caught a few more episodes, and was reluctantly entertained.  When I made an effort to follow up on several of the episodes’ smokey cliffhangers, the reluctance was gone, and I was hooked.  This past week, in gearing up for the season 5 conclusion, I found myself looking back at season 1 with fresh eyes, re-watching classic moments from other moments of the show, like how the characters react to the Kennedy assassination, and all around just soaking in the smugly rewarding atmosphere that indulging in this show offers.  Season 5 ended last night, and I am a bit sad because it was my favorite season by far.  At last, in the midst of season 5, and to apparent great expense, the Beatles were heard on the show.  Hearing “Tomorrow Never Knows,” from Revolver, finally filled a great cultural void that existed only due to the near impossibility of getting all the Beatle heirs to agree to allow a real Beatle master tape to be played on television.  It was immensely satisfying as a Beatle fan to hear the group that could not be avoided in the real 60s, to finally find a place in the fictional Mad Men 60s.  Then there was the inevitable LSD episode, also executed brilliantly, capturing an unsensationalized and mature look at that curious drug’s power, a welcome change of pace from the countless overblown depictions of the drug and its effects across the span of pop culture history.  Those highlights aside, the season was full of the same witty writing, stunning dramatics, and impeccable set and prop design which are the show’s hallmarks.  Season 5 ended like many Mad Men episodes do, with a montage of our favorite characters in their most private and isolated moments, all set to “You Only Live Twice,” by Nancy Sinatra.  Nancy had some spellbinding hits throughout the 60s, really capturing the more “swinging” side of the 60s through her cinematic cool anthems.  This song, known mainly as a James Bond theme song, finds new life spilling over the secret worlds of our favorite group of spiritually desolated protagonists.  I’ve got the song below, but I do want to close by saying that if you’ve had reservations about Mad Men, drop them.  Start with season 2 and either work yourself forward or backwards.  Like I said, its a hell of a show.

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