Call me a sentimental old fluff, but I loved Robert Morse’s song and dance at the end of the mid-season finale of AMC’s Mad Men. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has just turned around and he sees a ghost: Bert Cooper (Morse) breaking into a soft shoe (more of a soft sock as–in a nice touch–his shoes are off) and singing, “The Best Things in Life are Free.”
If you saw the episode, you’ll know this is Cooper’s swan song. The patriarch of the firm died at home shortly after witnessing the best ad line ever on television: Neil Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“Bravo,” said Bertie before leaving this earth himself.
The episode had more than its share of giant leaps. Draper finally closed the door on his relationship with Megan (or had it closed for him). Roger (John Slattery) seized the day and stepped into the leadership vacuum at the firm, pulling off a rescue merger which saved his and Don’s neck but also seemed far too pat. (There are seven more episodes, coming in 2015.)
Don showed maturity at last by mentoring Peggy (Elizabeth Moss ) towards her giant leap: the perfect pitch to the Burger Chef execs.
This quick half season has had its share of darkness and unease and while the finale seemed a tad too tidy the blast of optimism as the ’60s neared an end was welcome. If there is sometimes too much nostalgia among boomers for that decade it is still nice to be reminded of a value that seems lost today–a healthy lack of cynicism.
The moon landing was a precious time when people all around the world stopped and looked up together. That probably was worth 25 billion dollars.
Even if the best things in life are free, as Morse sang to us all at the end. Seeing Morse, at 83, turn back the clock and nail that number was pretty sweet. He still has that impish charm, that playfulness in his step. Even way back in his Tony Award-winning “How to Succeed in Business…” days there was a casualness to his singing and dancing that made it seem like any of us could do it. Bravo to him, and to showrunner Matthew Weiner for giving an old song and dance man a memorable curtain call.