Posts Tagged ‘Parks and Recreation’

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In 2013, two dude-bro brothers named Mike and Dave posted an ad on Craigslist looking for dates to accompany them to a wedding. You likely heard the story, as the stunt quickly gained the viral ubiquity of our fleeting national attention.

And like clockwork, here we are three years later with an irreverent comedy based on Mike and Dave’s antics (an eventuality overtly prophesied in the Craiglist post in question). As the down-to-business title suggests, this is a movie about Mike and Dave, played by Zac Efron and Adam Devine, who need wedding dates, which they find in Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza through the miracle of the internet and daytime talk show television.

Both men are well-intentioned and affable manboys whose life-of-the-party aspirations are inevitably undone by flying too close to the sun. This premise is introduced in probably the only coherent and comedically consistent vignette of the film, as Mike and Dave’s family visits with a slide-show montage of their past destruction and a mandate to arrive to their sister’s upcoming nuptials with plus-ones in tow as a protective measure against their accidentally destructive nature.

There are a few more laughs to be had, but not many. The movie plays as if SNL devoted an entire episode to a single sketch: it’s largely improvised and occasionally funny, but most of the jokes fail to land and everything would be better with a few more celebrity cameos. To their credit, Efron, Devine, Kendrick and Plaza are committed to their bits, working overtime to squeeze a few more drops of comedy blood out of the stone that is the film’s outline of a script. But their performances are also grating, particularly Plaza, who is forced to relinquish her otherwise capable comedy timing in favor of a barely two-dimensional caricature of a “bad” girl playing nice.

At every turn “Mike and Dave” seems desperate to position itself as a spiritual extension of Wedding Crashers, going so far as to name-drop the earlier film in a particularly on-the-nose scene. But while leads Efron and Devine exhibit some of that Wilson/Vaughan chemistry, the surrounding film is severely lacking in the showmanship and ingenuity of better comedies.

It’s a failed attempt that barely entertains for its shorter-than-it-feels running time.

Grade: C+

*Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates opens nationwide on Friday, July 8.

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*Note: Portions of review were originally published during Wood Stock’s coverage of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

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Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling star as a married couple, recently relocated to Los Angeles and struggling to acclimate to their new community while navigating their own personal and marital issues. While visiting a park with their son, they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), a bon vivant Californian who invites the pair over for dinner with him and his wife.

After the couples’ children are asleep, the adults relax into a booze-filled evening that ebbs and flows in increasingly awkward and revelatory ways as Scott and Schilling’s buttoned-up suburbanites slowly give in to the free-spirited je ne sai quois of their hosts. There are late night confessionals, erotic photography and the best use of prosthetic genitalia since Boogie Nights.

It’s an unceasingly and increasingly enjoyable film that plays into your assumptions, flips them around and hands them back to you in delightful ways. Every laugh is earned, not by pandering with loud, obvious jokes but by a series of spot-on deliveries by Scott, Schwartzman and Schilling.

Grade: B+

*The Overnight opens in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 3.

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One of the more memorable moments of 2007’s Juno comes at the close of the film’s first act, when our titular protagonists arrives at a clinic to undergo an abortion procedure, walks past a classmate chanting “All Babies Want to Get Borned” and is so unnerved by the idea of fingernails in utero and pie-smelling junk that she abandons her plans and commits to carrying her unborn child to term.

Without necessarily trying to be, that scene is quite indicative of how the subject of abortion is predominantly treated by Hollywood, which despite it’s lingering image by the conservative right as a lurid cesspool of progressive liberal villainy is overwhelmingly pro-life (this point has been made more articulately by other writers, such as Amy Nicholson).

Juno MacGuff is an edgy, wise-cracking character cooked up by an elaborately tattooed former-stipper, but when faced with the moral dilemma of ending the life growing inside her she chooses the physical discomfort and social exile that comes from a teen pregnancy: a decision increasingly uncommon to that of her off-screen peers.

Which is what makes Obvious Child so interesting, in that it is so ordinary. Aspiring comedienne Donna Stern (Parks and Rec’s Jenny Slate) gets dumped by a philandering boyfriend and rebounds via a drunken tryst with Max (The Office’s Jake Lacy), resulting in an unplanned pregnancy. No worries, there’s a Planned Parenthood nearby.

The internal conflict that results from Donna’s little biological miracle is not the moral quandaries of life and death. Instead, it’s the fear of a painful procedure, the anxiety over whether or not to tell Max about her pregnancy, the angst of disappointing her parents and the financial implications, since Donna is a Williamsburg millennial with student loans.

That’s the drama. The fun comes from the cringe-worthy honesty of Jenny Slate’s ebullient comedy style, manifested in occasional stage routines that include frank discussions of gender, culture and sexuality and girl-talk with bestie Nellie (Gaby Hoffman, playing a very Gaby Hoffman-type character).

It’s a perfect showcase for Slate, who has existed just outside the spotlight since her brief stint on Saturday Night Live (she infamously dropped an accidental F-bomb during her debut appearance and was politely shown the door at the end of the season).

And despite it’s cast of characters, Obvious Child is very much a one-woman show, placing a heavy burden on Slate’s shoulders to deliver the funny. Best of all, she succeeds.

Grade: A-

*Obvious Child opens in Salt Lake City theaters on Friday, June 27.

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*The following grades refer ONLY to premiere episodes. In addition to a letter grades based on the quality of the single episodes, I will also suggest — based on what those episodes suggest for the season to come — that you “Subscribe” on Hulu, “Keep your eye on” for the odd episode here and there or “Kill and Bury,” which should be self-explanatory.

The Mob Doctor (Fox)

It’s easy enough to be fooled by the pilot of Mob Doctor into thinking it might be a decent show. The story of an ends-justifies-the-means doctor with a debt to the local organized crime syndicate has intriguing possibilities.  But after some time and distance you begin to remember all of the unpolished nonsense that transpires in one 44-minute episode.

TMD — intended as the medical procedural replacement for the great albeit inconsistent House M.D. — is packed full with a rather forgettable and mostly unlikeable cast, the worst of which is the series’ protagonist  Dr. Delvin (Jordana Spiro) with an ever-present pout, and an inexplicably off-putting snake-like stare.

To call the pilot convoluted would be an understatement. The good doctor fights to save the lives of not one but three patients and crosses paths with not one but two mob bosses. We’re also introduced to the boyfriend, a co-worker (obviously) with whom Spiro shares no chemistry whatsoever, and two medical superiors, one of whom is the Mr. Miyagi for Delvin, and the other the thorn in her side.

Seeping with melodrama (one teenage patient has apparently experienced an immaculate conception and is at risk of losing her super-important swimming scholarship. “DRAMA!”) and lacking really any compelling character or structure (with the exception of one, carefully-placed sleight of hand twist) Mob Doctor flatlines fast.

Grade: C

Class: Kill and Bury

Revolution (NBC)

In the latest Show-That-Would-Be-Lost, the world is inexplicably plunged into an un-correctable darkness as all electric power and activity shuts off. From there, human society decays into a feudal system ruled by militias and plunderers.

We meet our heroes, a nice family of four getting by in a friendly commune of survivors, but one day the local militia rides into town, shoots up the place, kills Katniss Everdeen’s Charlie Matheson’s father, steals her brother and gets out of dodge.

As you would expect, Charlie, with the help of her step-mom and a pudgy in-over-her-head neighbor, go trekking off to 1) find her uncle so that they can 2) rescue her brother. The producers have talked about how Star Wars was an inspiration for the show (watch for a shout-out to the sci-fi franchise in the form of a lunch box) so in a nutshell, Charlie is Luke Skywalker, her brother is R2-D2 and her uncle is both ObiWan Kenobi AND Han Solo. Oh, and Giancarlo Esposito is Darth Vader and some guy named General Monroe is Emperor Palpatine. Oh, and instead of storm troopers we have a bunch of guys with the letter “M” carved into their forearms who (much like Storm Troopers) can’t shoot the broad side of a barn.

Got it? Good.

The show is purely and utterly “ok” and while it’s full of logical inconsistencies (is it really that hard to build new stuff or did the “event” somehow make the scientific principals that define electric energy somehow inert? And I’m not sure where they started, but it sure didn’t take long to walk to Chicago) it also has a fair share of fun and the action is pretty decent. When was the last time you saw blood spray and sword fighting on primetime television. I mean seriously, SWORD FIGHTING? Props.

It’s not great and it ain’t no Lost, but in the Lost-esque spectrum it’s much more digestible than Flash Forward and far less sappy than Terra Nova. Here’s hoping they can make it work. (p.s. I’ll bet you a Gajillion dollars that the reports of Elizabeth Mitchell’s death are greatly exaggerated).

Grade: B-

Class: Keep and Eye On

NBC Thursday Comedy Block (The Office, Parks, Up All Night)

NBC has made a big deal about the “farewell season” of the office. They brought back the original showrunner and have heavily advertised the swan song of NBC’s most successfully scripted comedy (extra sad when you see the viewership ratings, the most recent season premiere matched the show’s lowest rated episode…ever).

Less fanfare has been spent on the new seasons of Parks and Rec and Up All Night, despite the well-understood fact that Parks will likely be joining the Office in death at the end of the episode. As for Up All Night…well…it’s a cute show that no one really seems to care about.

All three premiered this week, giving us sit-commy plot points that will set the pace for the next few weeks. Andy is back as the full-fledged manager of Dunder Mifflin and Jim and Pam are looking at a huge transition for their little family. There’s also a New Jim and New Dwight, a gag that would have been funnier if they actually acted like Jim and Dwight instead of just showing a minor resemblance to the best comedy rivals of our generation.

On Parks, Leslie Knope has taken on a polluted river as her new project and is dealing with her long-distance relationship with boy-toy Adam Scott.

As for Up All Night, well, something about a show being canceled and Chris deciding to go back to work with Reagan’s brother. Let’s face it, the only reason any of us watch this show is because we love Will Arnett and want him to be successful.

Parks is still a great show you should be watching. Office is still a decent show you probably are watching some of the time and Up All Night is a show with Will Arnett and a baby. Let’s be honest, at this point your opinion of NBC Thursday isn’t going to change and it’s a shame that the Peacock’s strategy for trying to win back it’s title of Must-See-TV-Thursday seems to have only consisted of moving Community to Fridays. For shame, Peacock. For shame.

The Office: B

Parks: B

Up All Night: B-

Class: Keep an Eye On

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The 2012 Emmy Nominations were announced this morning and, once again, its hard to not feel a sense of crushing disappointment topped off with a sprinkle of dread. Besides the fact that excellent programming like Community and Happy Endings was completely overlooked while Kathy Bates gets yet another nomination for a show no one watches (nor should), the Big Four have once again been completely shut out of the drama competitions which means broadcast television is one year closer to its grave. Hold on to Comedy, buddy!

But mostly, my disappointment comes from the utter predictability of the nominations. With the exception of the pleasant and well deserved nod to New Girl’s M.V.P Max Greenfield (pictured above with the same expression I had this morning after reading the noms list) the major categories look like they nominators just recycled last year’s ballots. Yes, EVERYONE in Modern Family is nominated, defeating any chance of lesser-known (and arguably more deserving considering MF’s mediocre season) actors from the comedy genre to break into the pack. Jon Cryer inexplicably is included in the lead actor category (not because he isn’t a lead, but because 2.5 Men is rubbish) and whatever is left goes to big bang theory…again. Even I admit that as wonderful as Tina Fey is, this season of 30 Rock was undeserving of awards attention.

And seriously, I love Don Cheadle but…house of lies? Dear voters, I have 3 words for you: JOEL F***ING MCHALE (not actually his middle name).

I suppose I should give credit where credit is due, the nominators were smart enough to include HBO’s breakout “Girls” AND it’s writer/director/creator/muse Lena Dunham. They also came to their sense and all but excluded “Glee” except for a guest-starring role which, frankly, who cares. The temptation is always there to include shows like Glee as an appeal to the Bieber crowd and I’m glad they were not swayed.

They resisted the temptation to give Hugh Laurie a send-off nomination for House, which is the right decision. I love Hugh Laurie and, at various points during its run, have loved House, but this last season was not one of those points. Laurie, and the show as a whole, looked tired and much like how the BCS SHOULD be, we’re rewarding this year’s season, not every season that came before it.

Community also scored a writing nom, and I submit that if it does not win we Burn This Mother Down!

Other things are just plain ridiculous. “Missing” as a miniseries? There was a little bit of an uproar last year when Downton went the mini-series route but, at the time, it had not been renewed for a second season and was intended as a one-off. Not so with Missing. The Ashley Judd thriller was fully intended to be a multiple-season before it got yanked off the air for failing to even remotely stir the attention of the audience and just failing in almost every measurably way. Apparently we’re rewarding that sort of thing now.

The (for all intents and purposes) full list of nominees:

COMEDY SERIES

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
“Girls” (HBO)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“30 Rock” (NBC)
“Veep” (HBO)

COMEDY ACTOR

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in “The Big Bang Theory”
Larry David as Himself in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan in “House of Lies”
Louis C.K. as Louie in “Louie”
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in “30 Rock”
Jon Cryer as Alan Harper in “Two and a Half Men”

COMEDY ACTRESS

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in “Girls”
Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn in “Mike & Molly”
Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day in “New Girl”
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in “Nurse Jackie”
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in “Parks and Recreation”
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in “30 Rock”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in “Veep”

SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTOR

Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett in “Modern Family”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett in “Modern Family”
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy in “Modern Family”
Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker in “Modern Family”
Max Greenfield as Schmidt in “New Girl”
Bill Hader as various characters in “Saturday Night Live”

SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTRESS

Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler in “The Big Bang Theory”
Kathryn Joosten as Karen McCluskey in “Desperate Housewives”
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy in “Modern Family”
Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in “Modern Family”
Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow in “Nurse Jackie”
Kristen Wiig as various characters in “Saturday Night Live”

DRAMA SERIES

“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Homeland” (Showtime)
“Mad Men” (AMC)

DRAMA ACTRESS

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in “Damages”
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in “Downton Abbey”
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in “The Good Wife”
Kathy Bates as Harriet Korn in “Harry’s Law”
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in “Homeland”
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in “Mad Men”

DRAMA ACTOR

Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in “Breaking Bad”
Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in “Dexter”
Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham in “Downton Abbey”
Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in “Homeland”
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “Mad Men”

SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTRESS

Anna Gunn as Skyler White in “Breaking Bad”
Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey”
Joanne Froggatt as Anna in “Downton Abbey”
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma in “The Good Wife”
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart in “The Good Wife”
Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway Harris in “Mad Men”

SUPPORTING DRAMA ACTOR

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in “Breaking Bad”
Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring “Breaking Bad”
Brendan Coyle as John Bates in “Downton Abbey”
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in “Downton Abbey”
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in “Game of Thrones”
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce “Mad Men”

MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE

“American Horror Story” (FX)
“Game Change” (HBO)
“Hatfields & McCoys” (History)
“Hemingway & Gellhorn” (HBO)
“Luther” (BBC America)
“Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia” (PBS)

LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Connie Britton as Vivien Harmon in “American Horror Story”
Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in “Game Change”
Nicole Kidman as Martha Gellhorn in “Hemingway & Gellhorn”
Ashley Judd as Rebecca Winstone in “Missing”
Emma Thompson as She in “The Song of Lunch”

LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt in “Game Change”
Kevin Costner as ‘Devil’ Anse Hatfield in “Hatfields & McCoys”
Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy in “Hatfields & McCoys”
Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway in “Hemingway & Gellhorn”
Idris Elba as John Luther in “Luther”
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Frances Conroy as Moira in “American Horror Story”
Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon in “American Horror Story”
Sarah Paulson as Nicolle Wallace “Game Change”
Mare Winningham as Sally McCoy in “Hatfields & McCoys”
Judy Davis as Jill Tankard in “Page Eight”

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Denis O’Hare as Larry Harvey in “American Horror Story”
Ed Harris as John McCain in “Game Change”
Tom Berenger as Jim Vance in “Hatfields & McCoys”
David Strathairn as John Dos Passos in “Hemingway & Gellhorn”
Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson in “Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia”

VARIETY SERIES

“The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central)
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC)
“Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” (NBC)
“Real Time With Bill Maher” (HBO)
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

REALITY PROGRAM

“Antiques Roadshow” (PBS)
“Jamie Oliver’s Food” (ABC)
“MythBusters” (Discovery Channel)
“Shark Tank” (ABC)
“Undercover Boss” (CBS)
“Who Do You Think You Are?” (NBC)

REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM

“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
“Dancing With The Stars” (ABC)
“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
“So You Think You Can Dance” )FOX)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
“The Voice” (NBC)

HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM

Phil Keoghan, “The Amazing Race”
Ryan Seacrest, “American Idol”
Betty White, “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers”
Tom Bergeron, “Dancing With The Stars”
Cat Deeley, “So You Think You Can Dance”

ANIMATED PROGRAM

“American Dad!” (FOX)
“Bob’s Burgers” (FOX)
“Futurama” (Comedy Central)
“The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole” (Nickelodeon)
“The Simpsons” (Fox)

SHORT-FORMAT ANIMATED PROGRAM

“Adventure Time” (Cartoon Network)
“Phineas and Ferb” (Disney Channel)
“MAD” (Cartoon Network)
“Regular Show” (Cartoon Network)
“Robot Chicken” (Cartoon Network)

CHILDREN’S PROGRAM

“Degrassi” (TeenNick)
“Good Luck Charlie” (Disney Channel)
“iCarly” (Nickelodeon)
“Victorious” (Nickelodeon)
“Wizards of Waverly Place” (Disney Channel

CHILDREN’S NONFICTION, REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM

“It Gets Better” (MTV)
“Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger” (PBS)
“The Weight of the Nation for Kids: The Great Cafeteria Takeover” (HBO)

GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Dot-Marie Jones as Coach Shannon Beiste in “Glee”
Maya Rudolph, host in “Saturday Night Live”
Melissa McCarthy, host in “Saturday Night Live”
Elizabeth Banks as Avery Jessup in “30 Rock”
Margaret Cho as Kim Jong-il in “30 Rock”
Kathy Bates as Charlie Harper in “Two and a Half Men”

GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Michael J. Fox as himself in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Greg Kinnear as Tad in “Modern Family”
Bobby Cannavale as Dr. Mike Cruz in “Nurse Jackie”
Jimmy Fallon, host in “Saturday Night Live”
Will Arnett as Devon Banks in “30 Rock”
Will Arnett as Devon Banks in “30 Rock”

GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Martha Plimpton as Patti Nyholm in “The Good Wife”
Loretta Devine as Adele Webber in “Grey’s Anatomy”
Jean Smart as D.A. Roseanna Remmick in “Harry’s Law”
Julia Ormond as Marie Calvet in “Mad Men”
Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson in “Shameless”
Uma Thurman as Rebecca Duvall in “Smash”

GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Mark Margolis as Tio Salamanca in “Breaking Bad”
Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney in “The Good Wife”
Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning in “The Good Wife”
Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett in “Justified”
Ben Feldman as Michael Ginsberg in “Mad Men”
Jason Ritter as Mark Cyr in “Parenthood”

VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE

Brenda Strong as Mary-Alice Young in “Desperate Housewives”
Dan Povenmire as Doctor Doofenshmirtz in “Phineas and Ferb”
Rob Riggle as Noel in “Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice”
Maurice LaMarche as Clamps, Donbot, Hyperchicken, Calculon, Hedonismbot, Morbo in “Futurama”
Kristen Wiig as Lola in “The Looney Tunes Show”
Hank Azaria as Moe Szyslak, Duffman, Mexican Duffman, Carl, Comic Book Guy, Chief Wiggum in “The Simpsons”

DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES

Robert B. Weide, “Curb Your Enthusiasm ”
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Louis C.K., “Duckling”
Jason Winer, “Modern Family”
Steven Levitan, “Modern Family”
Jake Kasdan, “New Girl”

WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES

Chris McKenna, “Community”
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Louis C.K., “Louie”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
Michael Schure, “Parks and Recreation”

DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES

Tim Van Patten, “Boardwalk Empire”
Vince Gilligan, “Breaking Bad”
Brian Percival, “Downton Abbey”
Michael Cuesta, “Homeland”
Phil Abraham, “Mad Men”

WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES

Julian Fellowes, “Downton Abbey”
Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff, “Homeland”
Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men”
Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton, “Mad Men”
Erin Levy & Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men”

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