Sure, Peggy Olson kissed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce goodbye on the May 27 episode of "Mad Men" when she accepted a job elsewhere, but her character isn't exiting permanently, is she? She'll appear now and again, maybe to have drinks with Don Draper and Ken Cosgrove, right? Wrong, according to (former) star Jared Harris.
The actor, who played the newly deceased Lane Pryce, hinted in an interview with The Daily that Elisabeth Moss' popular character won't be returning. Harris let the tidbit about Peggy slip when he answered a question about whether the cast gave him a goodbye when his character died this past Sunday. His reply? They didn't because actors leaving shows "isn't a big deal."
"Other people had left the show that had been there since the beginning," Harris explained to The Daily. "Elisabeth left the episode before and she'd been there since the beginning. ... People leave and it's just part of it. They didn't make a giant fuss."
AMC had no comment about Moss' possible permanent departure. We also reached out to show creator Matt Weiner's folks, but no word yet. Moss' rep said viewers should just keep watching.
We'll keep you posted, but until then, enjoy Peggy's exit once more:
The "Mad Men" season finale airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on AMC.
"True Blood" returns for season three on Sunday! Little spoilers and hints have been appearing online. Ryan Kwanten, who plays Jason Stackhouse, has dropped a few details, including what his character develops a passion for. And Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, has dished on his character's sexy new love interest.
Since a test pattern is what television sets used to show after the programs have faded to black, what happens when a test pattern itself fades to black?
That's too complicated for this bear of very little brain to process, but it's one way to say that this Entertainment blog, Test Pattern, is shutting down after today. I began the blog solo in 2003, and it turned into a group effort in 2008.
The toenail monster: Test Pattern's unofficial, and super-creepy, mascot.
Highlights of the Test Pattern days for me included the annual TV commercial contest, which began in 2004 and ran every summer, with the most recent one just concluding a week ago. If when you think of creepy toenail monsters you think of msnbc.com, well, my work is done, but your sleep will be severely disturbed.
We'll still find ways to give you a chance to have your say on msnbc.com. Our community site, Newsvine, features moderated discussions of issues including entertainment, and also lets you weigh in via votes. You'll see more and more Newsvine links popping up in our stories. And our staff isn't going away, we'll still be here, just spending our time on other things. And other msnbc.com blogs, including Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log, will continue to publish. Self-plug: If you're a fan of pop-culture Weblogs, I run one called Pop Culture Junk Mail and would love to see you there.
I've been blogging since 1999, and without reader reaction and comments, it's kind of like talking to yourself in the mirror. You made the blog fun and carried it for six years. Thanks for that, and don't touch that dial. This blog may be going off the air, but the show goes on.
Has there been a show more fun than this season's "True Blood"? It reminds me how ponderous some of my other favorite dramas can get. Meanwhile, Jason Stackhouse is trying to figure out if Sam could turn into a chicken and lay and eat his own eggs. He also questioned Sam's sexual behavior as a dog. As I giggled watching him, I realized how much I had missed having a show that was pure daffy fun. Not since "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which got rather heavy-handed in its later seasons, has there been a show that reveled so much in its own silliness.
Maryann, you were fun for a while, but now it's time for you to go.
This season was even better than the first. The rise of Eric to lead character status was a savvy move. I'm certainly on Team Eric these days. Bill, who was such a dangerous character in season 1, now seems positively stately and safe compared to Eric. Is it wrong to want Eric and Sookie to end up in bed together?
Godric's short visit to season 2 was also fascinating. More peace-loving than even the staid Bill Compton, Godric just wished everyone could get along. Well, they couldn't. And his exit, with Sookie looking on and Eric's howl of pain was a season highlight. It also makes me wonder if we will see more vampire suicides in future shows, which makes me think of Jessica.
Her relationship with Hoyt is something out of ever girl's adolescent nightmares. Is there a woman out there that doesn't groan at the thought of every time being just like her first time? Oy. Her adolescent angst has fangs and superspeed to amp it up to crazytown. Talk about a no-win situation. Though, I would argue that Hoyt's evil mom had that little bite coming. Will these crazy kids be able to work it out?
And speaking of crazy kids. It's not looking good for Tara's beau Eggs. Actor Mechad Brooks just landed a role on ABC's midseason replacement legal drama "The Deep End." Looks like he may not survive the epic battle with Maryann.
I'm feeling about done with Maryann. It's amazing how even an orgy can start to feel repetitive if you have one every single week. So seeing her vanquished will feel satisfying. I do love that her storyline has brought some other characters out of the background.
Who would have thought Detective Andy Bellefleur would become the voice of reason, one of the few able to resist Maryann (and how does he do that exactly?), and a perfect foil for Jason. And I am so glad that Lafayette lived to see season 2. His post-traumatic vampire disorder combined with his usual sass makes for a more dimensional character. I'm hoping we get to see more interaction with Eric if Lafayette makes it through season 2.
And who will survive? The likely dead include Maryann, Eggs and maybe even Terry. Is there someone I'm missing? What do you think will happen with the finale? Who would you like to see bite the dust and who should survive? And how do you feel about some of the new characters, such as Evan Rachel Wood's vampire queen and the anti-vamp fanatics, Steve and Sarah Newlin?
This is our sixth annual summer TV commercial contest, and it's perhaps the most surprising yet. Usually, from the minute your comments start rolling in, I can tell which commercial is going to be named our favorite and which our least favorite. This year, I must have changed my mind five or six times. Reader votes would lean heavily one way, and then another.
Ozzy's Crazy Train of charm mowed down the Prius.
BEST AD: OZZY HITS PRIUS WITH A CRAZY TRAIN At first I figured the Prius ad, where people dressed as flowers and butterflies pop up in tune to "Let Your Love Grow," had the best commercial honor in the bag. It was weird, it was happy, it used cool technical elements, it even had a YouTube behind-the-scenes explanatory video. Definitely a neat ad.
But just when it seemed like the Prius was on the fast track to victory, it was knocked flying by a Crazy Train. This year's best commercial honor goes to Ozzy Osbourne for his series of Samsung Mobile cell phone ads, specifically, one in which he must text to make himself understood, and another in which he uses his phone as a personal assistant, including using it to discover a bathroom he didn't know his mansion even had.
What can I say? People love Ozzy. They love that this bat-biting Prince of Darkness has turned into a gentle, fumbling dad-about-the-house. And give Samsung credit, the ad smartly showcases the different benefits of the phone. Sure, you may not use it to make yourself understood at Starbucks or to find your way around your own house, but you know what it can do. Many celebrity endorsement ads fall flat (ahem -- Jillian Barberie) but this one, well, rocks.
I have to say that a favorite of mine was Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World. He didn't do as well with your comments and in the vote as I expected he would, but maybe that's because the ads aren't seen as often as some others. I'm sure it doesn't matter to the Man either way. After all, his blood still smells like cologne.
I won! I won! Or maybe: I lost, I lost!
WORST AD: SASQUATCH-LENGTH ARMPIT HAIR I hadn't even seen your choice for this year's worst ad when the contest started. And now that I've had to watch it numerous times in order to write about it, I'd really like to go back in time and pretend I never saw it. The winner (loser?) is a Boost Mobile ad, meaning cell-phone ads take both the best and the worst honors this year. But where Ozzy's ad hits all the right notes, this ad not only doesn't sell the product, but it grosses viewers out to the point where they actively steer away from the company being advertised.
In the ad that takes our worst-ad crown, a man and woman are riding on a tandem bike, and at first it appears that her long brown hair is blowing back in his face. But then she lifts her arm, and you realize that it's her gargantuan armpit hair. "You think this is wrong?" she asks the audience, going on instead to say that it's what other cell-phone companies do to their customers that's wrong, claiming that what Boost does is "unwronged."
Yes, the ad series is going for the gross-out factor, and I'm not saying that doesn't ever work. But it's also just kind of stupid. ""Unwronged"? That word, I do not think it means what you think it means. And while the Ozzy cell-phone ad smartly hypes what the phone does, all this ad does is moan about what other phone companies do.
As far as commercials and armpits go, I actually think this sweat-gusher for Axe Dry anti-perspirant is nastier, but it only came up in your comments a few times.
And personally, my least-favorite commercial this year is this one, where the woman sucks down a cup of Dannon yogurt in the supermarket, complete with nasty sucking sounds. It definitely was a contender, but just didn't earn as much hatred as the armpit hair woman.
Congrats, Ozzy and Samsung, and, uh, "congrats," woman with enormous armpit hair and Boost Mobile. And thanks to all who contributed, whether you left a comment, suggested an ad, or just followed along. I always get a kick out of this summer contest and hope you do, too. Let's touch base on commercials again in a few months, just to see what new contenders are out there for next year.
If a TV commercial can scare you, they can get you to buy their product, and don't think they don't know it. If you're suddenly frightened into believing that you smell, or you're somehow hideously unattractive or uncool unless you have their product, that's one scare tactic. And then there are the less subtle ones -- ads where people claim your life or your property is at risk, but they can save you, if you just fork over the purchase money.
AAAAUGH! Your commercial is trying to scare me!
I understand that Brinks-turned-Broadview Security is an alarm company and they're trying to tell you how their product could protect you. But that doesn't mean I can't make fun of the way they go about it.
In one ad, a woman is dropped off at the Aaron Spelling-size mansion where she apparently lives alone, having just had a bad breakup with Scary Stalker Man. The very second New Guy drives off, Scary Stalker Man rushes out of his car and kicks in her door ... only to be frightened away by the alarm.
In another one, a woman is prepping for a first date, and hears a noise. Thinking he arrived early, she starts to go downstairs, only to find a burglar. And in another, Soccer Mom and Sweet Daughter are playing in the backyard, not noticing Scary Stalker Man peering through their fence. Instead of attacking them in the yard, he waits until they go inside and set the alarm before smashing his way in.
It's always women in danger, sometimes children. The burglar is always a fairly clean-cut guy who works alone, never a stringy-haired meth head or a bunch of gang teens. He may as well be wearing a black-and-white striped convict outfit and carrying a bag with a dollar sign on it. And he never jimmies a lock or gets in through an open window or door someone forgot to lock, he VIOLENTLY SMASHES his way in, noise be damned! It's also funny to me how in each case, the phone rings, and although the receiver is always conveniently handy to our newly terrified female in distress, she's never thought to dial 911 before the alarm company calls.
Alarm companies need to sell fear. Do car insurance companies? I haven't seen one lately, but one company -- was it Allstate? -- used to run ads where you got the driver's-eye view of a car accident as it happened. They freaked me out every time, and I started to resent them, although apparently not enough to remember who put them on.
Not all car insurance ads sell fear. Allstate does have a hilarious and smart ad where a friend brags about his new car to a pal eating at a diner. He can't hear his friend warning him that the brand new car is rolling back into the path of a semi. "It's gonna hit that truck!" he yells. "There's no need to swear!" replies the oblivious pal.
OnStar ads also sell fear. It's more than a little creepy to see an accident and then hear the OnStar rep trying to talk to the injured driver, who mumbles incomprehensible things back as, presumably, his or her lifeblood drains away. I also love the one which shows an entire city's fire, police, and medical departments jump into action to answer the call for a one-car accident. I've been in four-car pileups that didn't get that kind of service. And here's my petty nit-pick: Why does the OnStar dispatcher always say "CRAH-sh," like she's never pronounced the word before? Listen carefully, she does it in both ads.
Which ads are trying to scare you into buying their products, and does it work?
I had a great time seeing "Inglourious Basterds." I felt invigorated and empowered, as though I could actually win a fight if I were to get into one. If you enjoyed the film half as much as I did, you might agree that part of the fun is just how much director Quentin Tarantino loves movies.
And lately the Internet has provided some wonderful opportunites to do just that. Witness these three Sky Movie clips where he talks about Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood,"Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" and Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver." He's right on the money when he talks about how crucial Harvey Keitel was to "Taxi Driver," and the last failed act of "Sunshine." Of course, it's hard not to wonder about Tarantino's ego when he compares Anderson to Montgomery Clift and himself to Marlon Brando, when talking about their competitive careers and friendship. But that overconfidence is part of what makes Tarantino's films so much fun. He has a bluster that's the equilvalent of Tony Manero's strut in "Saturday Night Fever."
I really dug his recent interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, in which he talked about why he dropped out of school and how he regrets not giving college a chance. He also talks about how he went from being an actor to being a director because he loved movies so much -- he couldn't just act in them, he had to create them. The fun thing about a Tarantino interview is that when it's going good, the way this interview is, he doesn't want it to end.
His interview with Charlie Rose is also a stunner. I love how he smiles when Rose refers to him as an "icon." This is a guy who revels in being a director. He even read Joseph Goebbels' diaries to prepare for "Basterds." That's commitment.
How did you like "Inglourious Basterds"? Are you a Tarantino fan or foe? Share your comments below.
The use of kids in TV commercials is always a controversial topic. Some viewers are sucked in by their cuteness, others find them annoying as all get-out. And so we don't start a fight between the parents and the child-free, here, I'd like to say that I'm a parent, but that doesn't mean I find every use of a kid in a commercial to be brilliant. Sometimes I find myself grabbing for the remote because the kids are just so awful. And sometimes it's not the kids, but the fact that many commercials think smart-mouthed kids putting down their hapless and unable to discipline parents is entertainment. (See our stereotypes in ads discussion for more.)
Baby Shankapotamus has redeemed the E*Trade ads.
I admit, I didn't like the E*Trade baby for a long time. (and I don't like typing a star between "E" and "Trade" either -- cutesy company names bug me! Get off my lawn!) I especially hated the ad where the baby barfs up a bunch of milk. But I finally found one I like, and based on the comments, many readers agree. It's the one where the baby berates an older man for not paying him his golfing winnings, and then sneers "Why don't ya try reading the rules, Shankapotamus?" Just reading that description does not sound funny to me, but something about the voiceover inflection and the phrasing, and the word "Shankapotamus," has almost redeemed the E*Trade baby for me.
And I still haven't seen the Evian roller-skating rapper babies on TV -- just on YouTube -- but they still fascinate me. I think if I saw them on TV I would have to drop everything and watch them skate. But I'm not sure how great a commercial it is, because I remember "roller-skating rapper babies," but I had to look up the name of the product even though I've written about it three times. The connection between drinking expensive water and CGI babies just isn't being made for me. (This older ad, featuring synchronized swimmer babies, at least features water.)
Not all kids in ads are babies. Older kids are much harder for me to take in ads. I can't exactly explain why I'm bugged by this Olive Garden commercial, where Dad works late and Mom takes her teen son out and tries to get him to tell her about "Donna." (Which seems like a wrong-generation name for this ad, if you ask me.) Apparently the young actorwho plays the son has a fan club, but I find him and his "mother" both so syrupy fake that it's like drinking a no-ice Slurpee just to watch the ad.
Some ads have kids, but it's the adult actors who grate on me. From the comments, it seems that a lot of you like the AT&T rollover minutes ads, where a mom yells at her kids for throwing away little plastic circles that somehow represent cell-phone talk time. It's not the kids who bug me in this one, it's that screechy, horrible mom, who kind of looks like an older Kate Gosselin. I'd throw my minutes away just to spite her.
Discuss commercial kids of all ages, and their parents, in the comments, Shankapotamus.
I'd divide ads that use music into three categories. Some dig up an old familiar song from our past, counting on the nostalgia value to make us associate good things with their product. Some pick a catchy modern tune which viewers may or may not have heard before, thinking it'll hit the right notes. And others make up a jingle specifically for their product.
This Prius ad features a catchy remake of "Let Your Love Flow."
We've been talking about this Toyota Prius ad, where flowers and butterflies reveal themselves to be people, for the sheer coolness of the effect. But we haven't mentioned the music. The commercial is set to a redone version of The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow," performed a capella by Petra Haden. This post on the wonderful site AdTunes, which always helps me identify songs from commercials, notes that you can download the song free from Toyota's site. Whatever you think of the flower people in the ad, Haden has a dynamite voice.
This ad for Dawn dishwashing detergent shows a bunch of cute animals (see our discussion on animals in ads) being washed clean after apparently being caught in an oil spill, and it's set to a jaunty song with fitting lyrics about washing away one's troubles. Again, AdTunes identifies it for me, as Joe Purdy's "Wash Away."You may remember hearing it in an episode of "Lost." (Speaking of which, that show is genius when it comes to using music. It brought the Three Dog Night classic "Shambala" back into my mind, via what I consider to be one of the greatest song-scene combinations ever. Watch it here.)
I already mentioned it in that above-mentioned post about animals in ads, but Ray LaMontagne's sweet song "Trouble" is used to perfect pitch in the Traveler's Insurance adabout a dog desperately seeking to protect his bone.
I have to confess, I laugh every time I see this Heineken commercialwhere the middle-aged cabbie is belting out Biz Markie's "Just a Friend." The look on the cabbie's face is priceless. Give that man his own show! I actually think this ad is good all the way around. It doesn't hit you over the head with its message, which is a beer company dutifully warning you not to drink and drive. It's not preachy, and it makes getting a cab look like fun, plus it sticks that catchy song right in my brain.
On Oct. 30, oddly enough just in time for Halloween, Sony Pictures will release "Michael Jackson This Is It." People will line up and pay their $10 to take a look at Jackson's final performance rehearsals before his death. For me, this prospect is cringe worthy.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a Jackson fan from way back. My mom has a picture of me as a kid, excitedly holding up a copy of "Off the Wall" that I'd received as a gift. But this film release stinks of exploitation; just another way to keep money rolling into the estate.
Michael Jackson in his final rehearsals.
Perhaps to some, it feels like a way to celebrate a great entertainer. But if so, why not just air it on television? Why charge admission? The fact that organizers charged for refreshments at the public memorial in Los Angeles already seemed like a bad idea. I don't remember paying for a Pepsi at my grandfather's funeral.
And will people even be attending the movie to glimpse his talent? Or will it be to see if they can sense his impending death somewhere in those dance moves. Upon learning this week that the L.A. coroner considers Jackson's death a homicide, we also learned the singer had bed sores. It's hard not to be curious how someone can go from strenuous concert rehearsals to bed sores. Will we be looking for evidence of the "King of Pop's" decline?
I realize that the Jackson estate has debts and that his children will most likely be the main beneficiaries of the estate's gains, but it just feels way too soon for this film release.
On last week's "Real Time with Bill Maher," Maher made a joke about the postponement of Jackson's burial, saying, in effect, that Jackson was about to become the zombie he pretended to be in "Thriller." When I get a notice for this film's release that's what I think of: A lifeless puppet going through the motions on stage for our amusement.
I, for one, don't plan to buy a ticket. Instead, maybe I'll dig out my old copy of "Off the Wall." Now I just need to find a record player.
Animal ads are always a popular topic of discussion in our commercial contest. The right cute pooch or cuddly kitten can sell a product, or at least give you warm fuzzy feelings about a brand name, and advertisers know it.
Animal ads have won the best ad honor in our contest twice. The California Cows won in 2006, and in 2007, the title went to a bulldog who gave his favorite toy to a puppy and trooped off to PetSmart for a replacement.
This poor dog just can't rest until he knows his bone is safe. Do they actually offer insurance for bones?
Just last week, when I posted votes for some of the popular best and worst ad contenders, a small revolt started in the comments. People started a campaign for the Traveler's Insurance ad,in which a small dog worries and tries to protect his precious bone, eventually feeling safe once it's under the Traveler's umbrella. I've still never seen this commercial on TV, but I quickly found it on YouTube, and I agree -- it's a contender. Although it makes me feel a little bad that the dog is so distressed. The catchy, sweet song is "Trouble," by Maine folksinger Ray LaMontagne, and someone on YouTube points out that the city the dog is roaming around is San Francisco. It's a cute ad, but can it beat Ozzy Osbourne needing his phone to both translate for him, and find a bathroom in his own house?
These are not technically commercials, but animals in PSAs for organizations such as the ASPCA always break my heart. Here's one where a cat demonstrates that however hard he tries, he just can't speak out against animal cruelty without human help. Singer Sarah McLachlan makes an eloquent voice for abused animals in this ad (this YouTube version is tagged for Canada, but it's the same ad I've seen here in the U.S.)
I've written before about how I'm a sucker for any ad with the Budweiser Clydesdales, especially their poignant 9-11 tribute. And while I know it's too old to be eligible this year, my second-favorite Clydesdale ad has to be "Naw, they usually go for two." Although I was reminded of our misheard lyrics discussions when I read in the YouTube comments that someone thought the line was "No, they use the gophers, too."
Which animal ads are your favorites? Or do you feel animals shouldn't be used in commercials at all? Share your thoughts in the comments.