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Mad Dogs: Polly and Chauncey


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#31

Sister Magpie

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 10:29 AM

That wasn't what I was trying to suggest and it's also not what's been said. Moral flexibility is not the same thing as being morally reprehensible.


Actually, I was just referring to the comment that we were supposed to be struck by how offensive Don was in the scene and how he managed to weasel his way out of anything--I guess I should have quoted it. That was part of the scene, but it seemed like that was saying Don's behavior was about showing how Don gets to be a jerk and gets away with it, which I didn't think was the main idea. Yes, he does do something bad and then get welcomed back by Sally, but that didn't seem like the primary thing the scene was created to show. There was a lot of references around that to hating Don, so it just like there was a lot of emphasis being put on the scene there to give people reasons to hate Don rather than wonder why Don did what he did or whatever.

Edited by Sister Magpie, Aug 5, 2010 @ 10:32 AM.


#32

stillshimpy

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 10:52 AM

Actually, I was just referring to the comment that we were supposed to be struck by how offensive Don was in the scene and how he managed to weasel his way out of anything--I guess I should have quoted it.


It's no problem, don't sweat it :-) The thing is, I really don't hate Don. I think he's a fascinating character. I don't even think that he would be purposefully cruel to a family, and take their dog, thereby wreaking some emotional havoc, to put it mildly. It would break my heart to smithereens if someone took my dog, and Don Draper wouldn't purposefully smash a stranger's heart to smithereens. However, he does sometimes allow himself not to think about things like that.

When Dick Whitman took Don Draper's identity, he did so not knowing about Anna Draper, or allowing himself to think of things like that. He saw an opportunity, it was to his benefit, without actual malicious intent, he did what he felt he needed to do. The real Don Draper could have had four kids waiting for him at home, never knowing why daddy just never came home. He didn't, but Don didn't know one way or another. I also don't think that's about "well screw them, mwhahahaha!", I think Don is incredibly skilled at putting things like that out of his mind. "It will shock you how much this never happened."

So I think the possibility exists that Polly was someone's dog, but that Don, without actual intent to inflict emotional injury, just wouldn't have thought of that family, those kids, their feelings if, at that moment, he saw a dog and deemed it the necessary part of the equation that was missing for whatever complex reason.

But I don't think it is about "Well, then he must suck, is evil, twirls a mustache, robs nuns..." but rather this man has a complexity in what he is trying to find, that an otherwise feeling person, sometimes just goes for it.

I don't think we will ever know for absolute sure. It's strange, because I find it one of the more intriguing mysteries about Don and worked on me in a way the "is he reaching for a gun? No, oh good, it's cash...whew." thing didn't because Weiner never ever, supplied the "whew" just the "Wha...?"

#33

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 11:07 AM

Oh, I didn't think you hated Don. I don't want to sound like I think criticism of him, or thinking that he did something hurtful to someone, must come out of some bias against him because...the guy is capable of some pretty heinous things that we've seen him do. I didn't think about where Polly came from at the time, and it was just the way it was introduced sounded like a joke about crimes Don would commit because he was a Don. If I'd seen him get out of a car and take somebody's dog on screen I wouldn't have said, "No way would Don do that!" I'd believe it.

What's funny in that case, actually, is I can't think of too many characters on this show that I wouldn't believe it of. I could totally imagine Pete, if he felt he needed to, doing the same thing, or Roger. It's the kind of thing that happens on this show that characters do things like that.

Edited by Sister Magpie, Aug 5, 2010 @ 11:11 AM.


#34

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 11:16 AM

What's funny in that case, actually, is I can't think of too many characters on this show that I wouldn't believe it of. I could totally imagine Pete, if he felt he needed to, doing the same thing, or Roger. It's the kind of thing that happens on this show that characters do things like that.


That's so true. I think Harry wouldn't but then, you never know.

The animals within this story have really been used to great purpose haven't they? Mark Moses said something like (and this is a paraphrase) "My character could end up curing cancer, but all people are going to remember is that he put Chauncey out onto the street." and he said it with good humor, but it's so true! When Peggy hooked up with Duck, I couldn't see "Duck, well he is a handsome enough guy, and he's making Peggy feel both attractive and wanted, after having offered her a good opportunity, thereby further underlining that he sees her a person of value." Nope. Instead my response was, "You'd never touch him if you knew what he did to his dog!"

#35

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 12:21 PM

I was the one who said that bringing back a dog after disappearing all night was offensive. And yes, I kind of hate Don. Those are my feelings, which I am entitled to, and nobody else has to share.

While this is starting to be a lot more about Don than Polly, I think it's a distinction without meaning to say that someone does terrible things because he's really good at not thinking about the effects. Few people are truly sadistic, and of course, they have their own reasons for being so. Being so selfish that you never think about how you might hurt other people, whatever gymnastics you do in your head to accomplish that, I'd say that's getting really close to evil.

Has Don actually crossed over into being evil? I'd say no, though if I thought more about Polly's acquisition, I might be forced to say yes. Which is why I choose not to think about it too much, just like with Chauncey. I happen to like Duck, so I ignore Chauncey's fate (though I am relieved to hear about his summers on the lake). ;)

#36

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 12:43 PM

I was the one who said that bringing back a dog after disappearing all night was offensive. And yes, I kind of hate Don. Those are my feelings, which I am entitled to, and nobody else has to share.


Yes, I didn't mean to imply that your feelings were wrong or that you were forcing anybody to share them. I was just saying that it seemed like the interpretation *of the scene* that was being put forth was about reaction to Don rather than Don himself. I think the reaction to Don was just a side issue.

Like with Chauncey, I don't think the scene where Duck abandoned him was supposed to be about showing Duck was a terrible person. That was just a side effect.

#37

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 12:46 PM

Who knows, maybe he stole the dog and left an apologetic note in the owner's mailbox. Or bought her off a hobo. I don't think we'll ever know unless there's a DVD extra: Polly's Story.


Who does Don know who can find an apartment, write copy to find a roommate, set-up a holiday party or tourniquet an amputated foot at a moment's notice (not to mention find last year's fashions in the back of the store)?

Don called Joan. Joan found Polly for Don.

#38

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 2:16 PM

I also think much of what went on in those early episodes was left ambiguous purposefully.


That remains a hallmark of the show, as any episode thread attests. But it is true: the characters were still being defined back then, and Don in particular was more mysterious. We had no idea how far he would go and what was off-limits.

(Detour: Speaking of ambiguity, one of my favorite parts of that episode comes when Don is tasked with filming the party goings-on. Helen and Cameron have just had a tense confrontation after his pass at her, but they dutifully smile and wave and mug for the camera like best pals, smoothing out the edges to play their parts in what will someday be a nostalgic document. But then Don catches another couple, presumably married, sharing a moment of unfeigned tenderness and intimacy, and he's moved by it. The sequence would be lovely even without "Voi che sapete" on the soundtrack, although that does not hurt. And it underlines a truth of the show itself: some things the camera captures are exactly as they appear; others are not.)

I have wondered before if he stole Polly. Would even a docile and people-friendly dog settle in so comfortably, immediately, with a new family if it had been abruptly taken from someone's yard? No going to the front door and whining, et cetera? However, there are other explanations. It was late, but not too late, if the kids were still awake. He could have picked up a newspaper and responded to some "needs a good home" ad, apologizing (and maybe throwing in some/more money) for the lateness of the hour.

Interesting: Sally rubs off Don's kiss in the first Polly scene too, much as she did in the most recent season premiere. She's eager to get back to the dog.

Edited by Birdhee, Aug 5, 2010 @ 2:51 PM.


#39

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 3:49 PM

Would even a docile and people-friendly dog settle in so comfortably, immediately, with a new family if it had been abruptly taken from someone's yard?


I can answer that, although you poor people are going to end up knowing an awful lot about my dog. I've had two rescue dogs, one came to us via a foster home first and settled in fine, but our dog now is a rescue dog who was not surrendered to the rescue society, rather her owners contacted the rescue society to find her a new home (long, long story, I'll spare you all) and she stayed with them until one was found. Another long story is the name she came with, which is Puddles, but suffice it to say, she's housebroken.

So the first time Puddles met us, my husband and I came to her home with three strangers, and when we left as we were trying to take her to the car, Puddles slipped her collar. My dog's first memories of me, and my husband, are of us sprinting after her in a mountain town, as she desperately threw herself against her former owner's door. Then I physically caught her, carried her to my car, and after a two hour drive (in which she eliminated in every possible manner, yay) two abducting strangers had to immediately bathe her before we even let her in the house.

Now, by that time Puddles may very well have been suffering from freaking Stockholm Syndrome, after the day she had, but she has never given any indication that she wanted to get back home. That's actually not entirely true -- where she was she had a three-year-old little boy, here she doesn't. For the first two weeks whenever she saw a toddler while out on a walk, she would try to get to them, but not desperately.

So I do know it's possible, but am willing to say that it's not the average response.

Edited by stillshimpy, Aug 5, 2010 @ 3:53 PM.


#40

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 4:47 PM

I don't think dogs necessarily know when they are being 'napped. Any dog that's used to one home, be that in mommy's litter, a pet store, or a human family, will probably exhibit some stress before it settles into a new one. So I don't know that Polly would be able to convey that she was lonely for her rightful owners versus adjusting to the Drapers.

#41

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 5:46 PM

That birthday party is memorable for me, because I noticed that Don had had a lot to drink. Betty was basically running the party herself, and she asked him (or told him) to get the cake. You can't have a happy birthday party without a cake.

But he didn't return home; it was dark, and the party was over. Yes, I always assumed that Don took her from someone's yard. (Wasn't it Stepdaddy Dearest who wanted to have the dog sleep outside, and Betty at least had the decency to put the dog in the laundry room.) So obviously there are dogs outside at night in the neighborhood.

And Don always does whatever he wants to do; if he needs a dog, he will take a dog. He's a dog.

But I love that dog. Polly.

#42

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 5:48 PM

Although if she's outside without a leash for any period of time she might try to go home. (Now I'm going to be watching every scene with Polly imagining her remembering her house and planning a break for it.)

#43

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 6:37 PM

Aw, shimpy, what a great story! Puddles is a lucky pup.

I wonder why nobody on the show has a cat.

#44

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Posted Aug 5, 2010 @ 6:43 PM

Cats weren't invented until the 70s, I think.

#45

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Posted Aug 6, 2010 @ 1:14 AM

I could see Jane Sterling buying a pair of Siamese cats. The "modern" type, of course, as described here. (And how amused I was to see that the breed was depicted in the ancient Siamese manuscript, the Tamra Maew.)

When Betty was hallucinating during the dreadful Twilight Sleep childbirth scene, didn't she imagine her father calling her a house cat? Just sitting there, useless & pretty. I don't see her bringing competition into the house.

#46

stillshimpy

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Posted Aug 6, 2010 @ 8:38 AM

Thank you, Scaramanga, I'm so happy to have found her :-)

I wonder why nobody on the show has a cat.


Cats are often really difficult to work with on set. I like to listen to commentaries (yup, geek) and I listened to the one for Julie and Julia (don't do that, dreadfully boring commentary) but Nora Ephron did talk pretty extensively about how much she hated working with cats. In fact, in the scene where Amy Adams walks into the new apartment and sets the animal carrier on the floor to let out her cat, there are actually two cats in it. There were supposed to be two cats in the movie, but one of them never came out of the carrier during filming, so they dropped it.

People on TV pretty much never have cats because shooting schedules on TV shows are so tight. BSG used one a couple of times, and had problems too.

So no cats are likely for the Mad Men, but I completely agree that Jane Sterling would have a cat, and possibly put rhinestone collars on them.

In terms of the dogs, I know any animal used is there to show us something specific about the character. So I had to laugh at the reaction to Henry not liking Polly. I think it's mainly just supposed to be a reflection of Henry's frustration with having to living in Don's house, presumably being surrounded by Don's things, and dealing with his mother's disdain and presumably the judgment of others about being willing to live in the Draper house, and projecting that onto Polly.

#47

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Posted Aug 6, 2010 @ 11:37 AM

That's a great observation, and very true now that I think about it. I have a friend who walks his cat on a leash, something I've never been able to do. He says, "The best way to train a cat is to find one who happens to do the thing you want him to."

That's probably why Data's cat on Star Trek was a different ca every time, and most times you see a TV cat it's solid black or some other easily-substituted type.

Edited by Scaramanga, Aug 6, 2010 @ 11:39 AM.


#48

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Posted Aug 6, 2010 @ 5:14 PM

In terms of the dogs, I know any animal used is there to show us something specific about the character.


I think the two most nurturing women on the show are Carla and Polly.

#49

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Posted Aug 12, 2010 @ 4:07 PM

I wonder why nobody on the show has a cat.


I agree with stillshimpy that the likely cause is it's easier to shoot scenes with a dog than with a cat.

That being said, given the stereotypes of cats and dogs -- cats are more free-spirited and likely to blow you off; dogs are more unquestioningly obedient and loving -- I think Betty and Don are more dog people than cat people.

#50

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Posted Aug 13, 2010 @ 1:56 PM

You know what I'd love? If Polly got her own vignettes like all the other minor characters on the show. Maybe one showing how she figures out how to get out of the laundry room and then goes to sleep on Sally's bed. And then maybe Henry trips over her on the way to the breakfast table in the morning.

#51

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Posted Apr 6, 2012 @ 8:10 AM

Found a Polly reference in EP 4.01 about "Did you put the dog out?" (it was night-time) and Betty said no because it was too cold so the dog was in the laundry room.

I think Henry doesn't like Polly.

I wonder if Polly made the trip to Rye or got given away. Polly's absence in "Tea Leaves" when they were playing w/ sparklers was ominous.

I'm hoping Carla took Polly.