Screen Savors: ‘Mad Men’ debuts, Masada disappoints

This week on TV.

April 15, 2015 13:28
3 minute read.
‘Mad Men’ TV show

‘Mad Men’ TV show. (photo credit: PR)


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Fans of Mad Men have seen Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in bedrooms and boardrooms all over Manhattan, as well as in the rural Pennsylvania bordello where he grew up and in Los Angeles.

We’ve even seen him in Korea and Rome. And now, we’ve seen him at a shiva.

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In the first episode of the second half of Mad Men’s last season, Don thinks he glimpses Rachel Menken, the department-store heiress he became fascinated with – and with whom he had a brief affair – in the first season. Casting a fur ad with sexy models in this new episode, he is sure one of them is Rachel.

Trying to contact her, he learns she has just died and he shows up at her shiva, knowledgeably lifting the cloth over the mirror to check his reflection and handing her sister a box of cake. “I’ve been living in New York a long time,” he explains, although he seems disappointed when her widower tells him he can’t complete the minyan. Don has been so many things to so many people over the past seven seasons – why couldn’t he be Jewish? The series’ creator, Matthew Weiner, is certainly Jewish, and in interviews he has credited his Jewish upbringing for giving him a fascination with outsiders. This inspired him to create Don, who literally steals another man’s identity in the chaos of the Korean War. Fearing that his deception will be revealed, he always feels as if he doesn’t belong.

The tension between belonging and being an outsider is at the center of this episode, as it has been at many. It opens in the early 1970s, and most of the male characters have laughable facial hair, but Don remains dapper.

Still, after having shaken off two wives, he has become something of a parody of himself, trotting out stories about his deprived childhood to win over 20something babes. But he finds himself drawn to the memory of Rachel and to a dark-haired waitress (Elizabeth Reaser, who is best known as Edward’s very young mother in the Twilight saga) at a diner, who is conveniently and symbolically reading a volume of John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy.

This episode focused on Don and workplace dramas – Betty, Sally and Megan were not in evidence. There are six more episodes left, but I’ll predict right now that the series will end, as it began, with Don drinking alone in a bar, and will leave us reflecting on how he has and hasn’t changed.

The series is being broadcast on HOT Plus on Monday nights at 10 p.m. and on HOT VOD for free.

The first episode was actually screened before a large crowd of Mad Men fanatics at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque several days ahead of its US premiere.

Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at sundown on April 15, and Channel 1 is broadcasting a documentary called Screaming Silence on a subject that has been both taboo and an inspiration for pulp fiction and pornography: the sexual abuse of Holocaust victims.

The documentary will be broadcast on Channel 1 on April 15 at 8 p.m. If you feel the need to watch it in HD, you can see it on HOT HD and YES HD.

If you’re interested in a fictional depiction of how Israelis view this topic, you might want to watch Avi Nesher’s 2010 film The Matchmaker, which is available on DVD.

Based on the best-selling novel by Alice Hoffman, the miniseries The Dovekeepers, which is running on YES VOD and YES Drama and will be available on YES Binge starting on April 24, tells the stories of three women at Masada.

It’s in the spirit of the clunky old Hollywood Bible epics, with everyone speaking English in different accents.

The cast is mostly European, and Sam Neill, who plays Josephus, is the big name. In case you’re wondering, it was filmed in Malta.

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