Peggy Olson’s Promotion in “MAD MEN” (1.13) “The Wheel”

PEGGY OLSON’S PROMOTION IN “MAD MEN” (1.13) “THE WHEEL”

Many fans of the show have made a big deal of Peggy Olson’s promotion in the Season One finale, (1.13) “The Wheel”. Actually, many have focused upon Peggy’s upward mobility from the secretarial pool to her new position as one of the firm’s copywriters – a professional. I had just finished watching this episode and another thought came to mind. 

It finally occurred to me that Don had given Peggy that promotion in order to spite Pete Campbell. Pete had informed Don that he managed to acquire the Clearsil account due to his father-in-law being an executive of the company. One could say that Pete was simply being an asshole by trying to shove the achievement in Don’s face. But I think that it was simply another tactic of Pete’s to win Don’s approval.

Unfortunately for Pete, the tactic backfired. I suspect that Don – feeling satisfied and perhaps a little smug over winning the Kodak account – had decided to strike back at Pete for the latter’s blackmail attempt in the previous episode, (1.12) “Nixon vs. Kennedy”. He promoted Peggy and handed the Clearisil account over to her in order to embarrass Pete. It was one of the most childish and despicable acts I have ever seen on that show. And yet, because Pete was (and probably still is) unpopular with many fans, a good number of fans failed to notice that Don had used Peggy to get back at Pete.

I find it amazing that both the critics and fans have accused both Betty Draper (Don’s wife) and Pete of being immature characters. Yet, time and again, Don has proven that he could be just as childish or even more so than either of these two or any other character in the series. But so many seemed blinded by his “man’s man” facade and good looks that they have failed to realize how emotionally stunted Don can be.

“ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE” (2007) Review

“ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE” (2007) Review

Nine years after the release of 1998’s “ELIZABETH”, director Shekhar Kapur returned to direct a sequel called, “ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE”. Like the 1998 movie, it stars Cate Blanchett as England’s “Virgin Queen” and Geoffrey Rush as the sovereign’s most trusted spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham. The movie covers a period during Elizabeth I’s reign in which she had faced the double threat of Philip II of Spain (Jordi Mollà) and Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton). The movie also features a romantic triangle for Elizabeth that features Clive Owen as Walter Raleigh, famous poet and explorer (and the Queen’s object of desire) and Abbie Cornish as one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waitng and Raleigh’s future wife, Bess Throckmorton. 

Despite having the same director and star as the previous film, “ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE” seems like a different kettle of fish from its predecessor. Michael Hirst and new writer, William Nicholson’s screenplay seem more somber and less violent than the 1998 film. The most graphic violence shown in the movie is actually heard as Mary Stuart’s neck is severed by a sword (or axe). And its sensuality almost seem subdued in compared to the earlier film. The most titillating scene seemed to be Cate Blanchett’s backside after she disrobes in one scene.

The movie covers a period in Elizabethan history that has been featured many times in the past – namely Elizabeth Tudor’s decision to execute Mary Stuart for plotting treason. It also covers the consequences of this act – namely Spain’s decision to send an armada to England. Although I found this mildly interesting, I wish that one day in the future, some filmaker would focus upon a period in Elizabeth’s reign that did not cover her early years as queen, Mary Stuart’s death or the Spanish Armada. Unfortunately, these incidents seem to define her reign in history. Perhaps that is why I found the story’s main conflict anti-climatic. At least the royal triangle between Elizabeth, Raleigh and Throckmorton managed to provide some spark in the story . . . even if this actually played out in the early 1590s, instead of the 1580s as shown in the film.

The performances are basically first-rate – especially by Rush, Owen and Cornish. Although I must confess that I found Owen’s presence in the movie to be almost irrevelant. Aside from participating in the defense of England against Spain, he had no serious role in the movie’s main story – namely Elizabeth’s conflict with Mary and Philip.

I really do not know what to make of Jordi Mollà’s portrayal of Philip II. I guess I found it rather odd. I think he had tried to portray the Spanish sovereign as someone more eccentric than he actually was. And quite frankly, screenwriters Hirst and Nicholson did not serve him well by dumping some rather pedantic dialogue upon him that seemed focused around insulting Elizabeth’s character. I do not know what he had called English queen more – ‘whore’‘bastard’ or simply ‘darkness’. Quite frankly, he had made a much better villain in “BAD BOYS II”.

As for Blanchett, I really enjoyed her performance in the movie’s first half. She seemed more self-assured, mature and perhaps manipulative than she was in the 1998 movie. Yet, once when affairs of both the state and the heart began to sour for her, she engaged in more over-the-top mannerisms than Bette Davis did during her entire 17 years at Warner Brothers. Before one starts thinking that I was more impressed by Blanchett’s performance in “ELIZABETH”, let me assure you that I was not. If anything, her twitchiness in the movie’s second half only reminded me of the same mannerisms that I almost found annoying in the first movie. Yet . . . she still managed to turn in an excellent performance.

Like its 1998 predecessor, “ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE” is not perfect. It lacks the previous movie’s colorful panache, despite the lavish costumes and sets. In fact, those very traits nearly threaten to overwhelm both the story and its characters. Thankfully, Kapur manages to prevent this from actually happening. And although it is historically incorrect, at least it is not marred by an unforgivable revision of history as was the case with the Elizabeth/Dudley storyline in the first film. Despite its imperfections, I suggest you go see “ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE”. Especially if you enjoy lavish costumes in a historical setting.

RETROSPECT: “CHARMED: (2.14) Pardon My Past” (1999)

RETROSPECT:  “CHARMED:  (2.14) Pardon My Past” (1999)

Pardon My Past” is an episode from Season Two of the TV series, ”CHARMED” (1998-2006). In it, one of the Charmed Ones – Phoebe Halliwell – is haunted by a spirit in her past life. The past life turned out to be one P. Russell, a first cousin of the sister’s great-grandmother. 

To find out why she is being haunted by P. Russell’s spirit, Phoebe visits 1924 and diiscovers that P. Russell was a pyrokinetic witch who had been romanced by a warlock named Anton. While in the past, Phoebe also acquired a glimpse into the past lives of her sisters – Prue and Piper. She discovers that they were former relatives of P. Russell and out to destroy her and all the latter’s future lives before any of them can become completely evil. Prue and Piper must then stop their past lives’ curse in the present before Phoebe falls victim to it and dies.

This episode was the second, following Season 1’s ”That 70s Episode” that revealed their family’s past history. And like many of these episode . . . it had a lot of flaws. Let us take a look at them, shall we?

Flaws in “Pardon My Past”

*Ownership of the Manor – In this episode, it was revealed that the parents of the sisters’ grandmother – Penelope Johnson Halliwell – had been living in the manor in 1924. Yet, according to the Season 1 episode – ”Is There a Woogy in the House?” – the Halliwells (which happened to be Penny’s in-laws) had purchased the manor following the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906.

The Ages of Phoebe Halliwell and P. Russell – While perusing the Warren family tree, Phoebe had this to say about her past life:

”I think that this one is me. (She points to P. Russell) She died February 17th, 1924. The same age I am also.”

How was this possible? According to the family tree, P. Russell lived during the period July 1894-February 17, 1924. She was 29 years old when her cousins killed her. The episode ”Pardon My Past” occurred between February 16-18, 1924; and February 16-18, 2000. Phoebe was born on November 2, 1975; making her 24 years old at the time, not 29 years old.

Past Life for Leo Wyatt? – According to Phoebe, she had spotted Leo’s past life in 1924 and he was P. Baxter’s (Past Piper) lover. I am curious. How is this possible? The series has claimed that Leo had been born in May 1924. But again, this is not possible. According to the Season 1 episode, ”Love Hurts”, Leo had been a medical student when he joined the Army in 1942:

”No. World War II. I left med school and enlisted as a medic. I wanted to help save people not shoot them. The last thing I remember, I was bandaging a soldier’s head wound and I felt a sharp pain and the next thing I know I was floating surrounded by White Lighters.”

If Leo had been at medical school at the time when the U.S. entered World War II, he should have at least older than 22 years old when he joined the Army. Which means that he should have already been alive at the time of P. Russell’s death in 1924.

Phoebe’s Theory – How did Phoebe get the idea that she was going to die within a day because of her encounter with her past spirit? From the moment she had encountered P. Russell’s spirit on the very anniversary that the latter was killed, Phoebe made this assumption:

”So, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to die today too, right?”

Even before she found out about the curse placed on P. Russell’s future selves, Phoebe came to the conclusion that she was doomed to die:

”Phoebe: Not much time. By midnight, I’ll be dead again.
Piper: By midnight? How do you know that?
Phoebe: Midnight, a full moon, what’s the difference? It’s always one or the other, right? I know I won’t make it to February 18th unless…
Leo: You go back to the past again and find some answers.

How on earth did she come to this conclusion without knowing the facts? Or was this another example of the Halliwells producing theories out from their respective asses?

Phoebe’s Ability – Phoebe had asked Leo why she did not have a power like P. Russell’s – pyrokinesis. This is what Leo had told her:

”Well, if you screw up your regrets. Your past self must have abused the power. That’s why it was taken away from you.”

What the hell? How did Leo come to this conclusion? Although Past Piper (P. Baxter)’s ability – slow down others – was a variation of Piper’s ability, Past Prue (P. Bowen)’s ability turned out to be cyrokinesis (freezing ability), which had nothing to do with Prue’s abilities of telekinesis or astral projection. Nor did P. Russell’s ability (pyrokinesis) have anything to do with Phoebe’s ability of precognition. And why is Phoebe’s precognition ability considered a REGRESSION of P. Russell’s fire ability? Phoebe is a seer. She has the ability to summon information on the past, the present and the future through visions. Information is power. Both of her parents have told Phoebe that many magic practitioners would kill to be a seer. Apparently, Phoebe never believed them. Even the Source did not want Phoebe’s precognition ability . . . despite the fact that he had depended upon two seers. Which only tells me that even intelligent individuals like Phoebe and the Source can be incredibly stupid.

The Warlock – Anton – So, Anton (who was P. Russell’s lover) was supposed to be a warlock? How is that possible? It is quite apparent that Anton had never aged in the 76 years between 1924 and 2000. It was established in the first episode that warlocks were merely witches who had gone bad:

”A bad witch or a warlock . . .”

Despite what Leo had believed, witches ARE mortals. If Piper could die from a bullet wound in an alternate timeline, then witches are mortals. And if witches are mortals, then warlocks should also be mortals. Which means that either Anton should have aged or he was something other than a warlock. Also . . . the sisters and Leo have declared many times that evil cannot love. Yet, Anton was in love with P. Russell and had remained in love with her for a long time.

Phoebe’s Warning in the Book of Shadows – Apparently, all of Phoebe’s future lives are doomed to die in their early 20’s unless they can somehow stop P. Bowen and P. Baxter’s curse from affecting them. They end up saving present Phoebe by putting the necklace on her, but the rest of her future lives are still doomed to die in their early 20’s. Thus, Phoebe wrote a warning in the Book of Shadows to warn her future selves about this. What if Phoebe’s future selves do not end up as a member of the Warren family line? Had anyone stopped to think of this?

Gordon Johnson’s Piano Talent . . . or Lack Of – Greg Vaughn, as the Charmed Ones’ great-grandfather, Gordon Johnson, is shown playing the piano in 1924. Unfortunately, it appears that Vaughn lacked the talent to fake playing the piano. One can easily see that his fingers do not even reach the keys.

The Confusing Warren Family Tree – This episode marked the only appearance of the Warren family (which began with Charlotte and Melinda Warren) tree. I came across some interesting entries that seem contradictory:

-Grams’ age: According to the family tree, Penelope Johnson (the sisters’ grandmother) was born in 1937. She gave birth to her only daughter, Patricia Halliwell, in 1950. Are we expected to believe that Grams gave birth to Patty at the age of 13? I rather doubt it. The family tree also stated that Grams had died on March 3, 1968. Gee, they got the date of Grams’ death wrong by 30 years.

-Piper’s birth year: According to the family tree, Piper was born in August 1973. Yet, in one S1 episode, Piper had identified herself as a Gemini. Also, in the S1 episode, ”Thank You For Not Morphing”, Victor clearly made it apparent that she was three years older than Phoebe, who was born in 1975. The S3 episode, ”Coyote Piper”supports Victor’s words with its revelation that Piper had graduated from Baker High in 1990, making her birth date of 1972 very plausible. And I doubt that young Piper was less than two years old in S1’s ”That 70s Episode”.

-The name of the Charmed Ones’ grandfather: According to the family tree, the name of the sisters’ maternal grandfather happened to be Jack Halliwell. Yet in the S6 episode, ”Witchstock”, he is renamed Allen. All I can say is . . . what happened to Jack?

I wish I could say that ”Pardon My Past”’s glimpse into the Warren family line was interesting. But it was filled with so many inconsistencies that I cannot help but harbor a little contempt for the writer who had penned this episode.