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Mixed Notes - May 14

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 14, 2012

Some thoughts about "Smash," "Mad Men" and "Survivor." Also, this is the week when the broadcast networks announce their fall lineups, and I will be posting those announcements as they are made. You can see NBC's below, and Fox's is due this morning. Many of the details have already come out (as you can see, for example, on TV Tattle) but the boilerplate gives a fuller idea of what each network is thinking. 

As for recent and upcoming viewing, "Smash" concludes its first season tonight, and it's been a roller coaster. As I have said before, I have liked the show-biz stuff and am far less impressed by the personal stories. Tonight tries to deal with both and -- without getting too spoiler-y -- I wonder if it has built a box for itself that will be very difficult to break out of in the second season. I will be back when the second season begins, but will be very wary of what direction the show takes. And may post more about the finale after you all have had a chance to see it.

"Mad Men" continues the season-long duel between the aging characters and the younger ones, and last night's episode found Don feeling especially challenged by his proteges; Betty dismayed when she compares herself to Don's new, young wife, and Roger having to turn to two young characters to get what he wants. Of course, Roger then touched on the other theme this year (and in past "Mad Men") -- that getting what you want is not the same as getting what you need, and you can be as unhappy with what you have as without. Indeed, Roger finally seems to have learned that getting what he wants is destructive -- much as it is for Don and the ad campaign, however much Don tries to justify his actions with getting the client.

Betty, with no suggestion of irony, says she is thankful for what she has -- but we know better, especially with Henry's career in decline. Don has moved up in his business -- and likes being a boss -- but is realizing that there are other smart guys in his wake. Peggy knows she is not always going to be the go-to person.

But the great character in the episode may be Sally, who is making herself in Betty's image -- and brilliantly -- but is still seeing that both Betty and Megan have aspects of life that she may want. Sally may even be caught in the idea of how do you have it all: the glamorous independence of Megan and the domestic role of Betty. Only Megan, too, is faced with the realization that getting some of what she wanted -- life with Don -- diminishes any acting accomplishments she achieves. It is, indeed, too easy for her -- which Betty also recognizes, and hates Megan for it.

"Survivor," meanwhile, ended in a way that, while hardly surprising, made perfect sense. Kim played a perfect game, strong in challenges (especilaly at the end, when she needed immunity most) and excellent at the social game. She had too much swagger at times, but she was right about her game-playing skill, as opposed to Alicia, who seemed to think she was the puppet master when she was never really running things. Of course, I hated Alicia from her vindictive early self to her deluded later self to her teary moment on the cast reunion, where her emotions seemed very, very false. I am also dreading the return of Colton, who -- like Russell -- still does not understand the difference betwen cold-blooded tactics and reveling in malice; but he is so horrifying, as the reunion show demonstrated yet again, that the show must be looking at him as one of the returners on "Survivor: Philippines." 









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