Feb 252013

I work pretty hard on the timeline for the Mad Men Episode Guide, making sure I have evidence for what day things happen on. We know that Matt is super-careful about things like that, going so far as to have the weather on specific days match the actual weather report, and adding references to things that happened in the news.

Dark Shadows takes place in the lead-up to Thanksgiving. Day One is a work day, presumably a Friday. On Day One, Bert tells Roger he wants him to set up a dinner for the Manischevitz account, at which Jane should be present.

Next is a weekend; when Betty picks up Sally, Megan says to Sally that she’ll see her in two weeks (pretty normal visitation schedule for the time; I saw my own father every other weekend back then).

Day Three appears to be Monday; Roger gets Ginsberg to come up with ideas for Manischevitz by Friday. This is strong evidence that it’s soon after Bert spoke with Roger; Roger is excited about the opportunity to one-up Pete, so it seems to me that Bert spoke to Roger on Friday and now it’s Roger’s earliest opportunity to get Ginsberg on the case. It wouldn’t make sense for a week to pass between those two conversations, right? On the same day, he calls Jane about dinner; he’s striking while the iron is hot.

Also on Day Three, Megan and Julia discuss Thanksgiving–Julia wants to know what she should bring. So, again, it’s not far away. So, I have Day One as Friday the 11 of November, 1966, Day Two as Sunday the 13th, and Day Three as Monday the 14th.

Now, here’s the problem. When the weekend rolls around, Sally is back with Don and Megan. It’s not two weeks, it’s one week. I tried backing up the first week and assuming a one-week gap, but that screws up the Roger-Ginsberg-Jane timeline. It makes no sense that Bert gives Roger an opportunity that Roger really wants to grab, but he waits a week to set it up.

Also, Sally gets colored pencils from Don on Day One for her family tree project, then she works on the project with Betty, then she’s back at her Dad’s–all before Thanksgiving. Betty then goes back to her weekly Weight Watchers meeting (the second this episode) and they talk about how it’s Thanksgiving week.

The episode takes place from November 11 through 24, 1966. The timeline is fine except for the every-other-week visitation, which is specifically referenced. This is the sort of thing that makes me crazy. And by the way, this is why I think our Episode Guides have real value for hardcore fans; no one else is working this hard on the show who doesn’t actually work there.


  14 Responses to “Dark Shadows Timeline Glitch”

  1. Deb, to me you ARE part of the MM staff. I was under the impression that the week of the Manischevitz meet was Turkey week. But then, who actually works on Thanksgiving Friday?
    I’m lost.
    That eerie fog/smog on the day of the holiday served in retrospect as a harbinger for Lane.

  2. I second Tilden’s comment about you being MM staff! Heck, they should pay you!

    Maybe the looming fog clouded everyone’s minds, Megan misspoke and no one noticed? Just one of those things, I guess!

  3. Now I need to go back and watch again. Deb please keep up your wonderful, obsessive, perfectionist habits. It does add real value. It makes the creative team and the audience better. Thanks!

  4. Well, we have heard Matt speak about the Lipp Sisters as fantastic supporters of the show so I can just imagine him reading your post and kicking himself for the error! Way to go. I love this blog and the perfectionism is wonderful. Keep it up, and thanks for all you girls do.

  5. Total non sequitur, but I flipped when I saw Sally’s suitcase. We had suitcases just like that, but I was surprised when I saw hers, because they were really cheap. Didn’t think Betty would buy anything at Kmart.

    • you might for a kid visiting her dad that you don’t like in the city. or it could be a spare/old one.

      • I’ll have to take another look at Tomorrowland to see if they had the suitcases then.

        • My Aunt Eileen had the exact same floral suitcase into the 1970’s — always took it with her when she visited from NJ.

    • I love the way Sally’s suitcase picks up on Megan’s outfit, while the plaid lining of Sally’s coat echoes Betty’s houndstooth. And the blue of Sally’s coat matches the blue of Betty’s scarf.

      And poor Bobby is exiled in red.

      And after lurking this site for God knows how long, I finally bust a move and write a post.

  6. Ruthie, Roberta and I had those suitcases too.

    The recap is now up and you can click through and see the timing. Despite the visitation glitch there’s overwhelming internal evidence in the episode that these are, in fact, the dates. Turkey Day was the 24th; the Manischewitz dinner is almost certainly Monday, the 21st.

    • Maybe Megan was mistaken about the “see you in two weeks” and forgot the kids were coming for Thanksgiving dinner. I know that usually holidays are exceptions when it comes to visitations. My neighbors switch holidays every year regardless of the weekly visits.

      • Because it reinforces the notion of Weiners omnipotence, I like the “Megan was mistaken” hypothesis. A nugget of realism which, unusually for Mad Men, does not serve literary matters.

        William of Ockham might go with Deborah’s hypothesis – that it’s a plain old mistake.

        • I don’t know about dissecting MM with Occam’s razor, after all it’s “where the truth lies.”

          Perhaps the glitch is a nod to the “Dark Shadows” series, who knows?

  7. “our Episode Guides have real value for hardcore fans; no one else is working this hard on the show who doesn’t actually work there.”

    I’ll second that sentiment – BoK is one the the few places I go to before Wikipedia on matters pop-cultural.

    (I’ll bet Weiner checks in from time to time)

    (I’ll bet more that that he has a staffer visting regularly)

    “I’ll see you in two weeks” – put that glitch up there with Dick telling his niece Stephanie “last time I saw you your front teeth were missing” – though (as C Carroll Adams so ably pointed out) the story is replete with Dick Whitman’s problematic early-50s timeline.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.