Odds and ends:
*We’ve been doing conference previews at Crystal Ball Run to help pass the time in the offseason. This week is the Big 12, so be sure to check back early and often.
*Speaking of great Big 12 previews, our buddy Bill Connelly has done some yeoman’s work for the last few months previewing every FBS team. He is wrapping up the Big 12 squads today with none other than the Crimson and Cream.
*What a strange season for Mad Men. The show has never exactly been feel-good, but, man, it plunged into the depths of depression for the sixth season. It felt like all of the major characters were just falling into the same destructive patterns as before, with even worse consequences. Every week was so damn grueling that I’m having a hard time dealing with the prospect of finishing the show off when AMC brings it back for its seventh and final season (whenever that may be).
That said, 1968 has been forever etched into the American consciousness as a year of upheaval and radical disruption. The show did a fantastic job of capturing that feeling in this series of episodes, and despite the melancholy mood of what was one of Mad Men’s most uneven seasons, the finale seemed to go out on a note of optimism, the kind that comes from breaking out of a rut.
*More TV: As good as Jon Hamm is at playing Don Draper, he still bows down to James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano in the pantheon of indelible television characters. Gandolfini’s passing last week got me to thinking about what it was like him perform. For all the gangster lore surrounding The Sopranos, you can only mine the novelty of that kind of dramatic conceit for so long. Gandolfini and Edie Falco carried that show in its later seasons through the gravity of their performances.
*Even more TV: I missed last night’s episode, but I’m really digging the reboot of The Killing. The show seems to have gotten away from the ham-handed misdirection that dogged its first two seasons. Joel Kinnaman is still great as Holder, too. If you gave up on the show – and I wouldn’t blame you if you did – give the new season a shot.