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The Late Movies: Baffling "Next on Mad Men" Clips

I'm a big fan of AMC's Mad Men. I've been watching it faithfully since its debut. But one thing has been bugging me since the third season -- the "next on" segments at the end of each episode reveal virtually nothing about the plot of the next episode. They're a kind of dada art in which the producers of the show show clips of unrelated dialogue; even if you know exactly what's going on with the show, they don't show enough actual interaction to figure out what the next episode is about. It's almost as if the producers are contractually obligated to provide some kind of "next on" segment, so decide to put meaningless stuff in there to fill time (either that, or they're driving you to their website for a meaningful video). In tonight's Late Movies I'll show a few examples, then some hilarious parodies.

Warning: in theory, there might be spoilers here. However, I think you'll see pretty quickly that these things are nonsensical in the extreme. Also note that in the first two seasons (like this clip from season 2) the "next on" segments did actually seem meaningful on their own, so are full of spoilers.

Season 3 Episode 12

On the next episode of Mad Men: "I have what is rather disappointing news." (About what?) "If they wanted to fire you, they would have fired you." (Who is he talking to?) "What are you doing here?" (Who is she talking to?) "Bert Cooper still has a say around here." (Regarding what??)

Season 3 Episode 11

"It's unfair but it's over." (What's over? Who's he talking to?) "I'm curious why you won't answer the question." (Who? What question?) "I like that you thought of me. You want to be on some people's minds." (Who??) "What are you doing here?" (Remember this exact line from the episode above?)

Season 3 Episode 13

"I'm deeply disappointed, Don." (Why?) "What if this is my time?" (What/why?) "You are in over your head." (Who?) (Crying, throwing things, kissing, tender moments, breaking a vase...huh?) Spoiler alert: to be fair, there is a little actual content in this one -- the stuff with the kids and Betty has clear meaning, and so does the bit about Sterling Cooper.

Parody - The Room

Update: these are all apparently the work of John Duffy, and he's making more! Check out his YouTube channel for more; I particularly recommend the 30 Rock video, featuring Jon Hamm.

Apparently I'm not the first person to notice this madness. Various parodies have popped up on YouTube, substituting similar clips from other shows and movies, in a similarly disjointed manner. You can find them by searching for the fourth episode of the fourth season ("Episode 4.4"). Here's one from The Room:

Parody - Arrested Development

Parody - Curb Your Enthusiasm

Warning: swearing.

Parody - The Office (Original Series)

Parody - Jurassic Park

Mostly dinosaurs.

Sesame Street: Mad Men

Oh, good old Sesame Street. "This doesn't make me happy! The raccoons are running off with the bear's honey! This makes me mad!" Best closing line ever: "Good work, sycophants." I gotta use that more often.

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11 Fast Facts About Cash Cab
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel

Between 2005 and 2012, anyone hailing a taxi in New York harbored a secret wish: that they’d wind up in the Cash Cab. The mysterious vehicle was both a licensed city taxi and a mobile game show, one where passengers could win thousands of dollars just by answering a few trivia questions on the way to their destination. After five years away, it’s back on Discovery Channel with its original cabbie host, Ben Bailey. But before you slide into the Cash Cab seat once again, check out some trivia on the series itself. Who knows—it could come in handy during your next taxi ride.

1. THE SERIES ORIGINATED IN ENGLAND.

Before Cash Cab came to the U.S., it had a brief run in Britain. This Cash Cab aired on ITV with host John Moody. It kicked off in the summer of 2005 and, although producers had high hopes for the series, fizzled out by the following year.

2. THERE ARE CASH CABS ALL OVER THE WORLD NOW.

Since the American iteration of Cash Cab became a hit, the concept has expanded across the globe. Internationally, it’s earned airtime in India, Canada, Jamaica, Egypt, and many more countries. Just stateside, the show has had additional runs outside of New York. Check out a clip from Cash Cab Chicago, with host Beth Melewski, above.

3. BEN BAILEY HAD TO PASS A DRIVING TEST.

Before Ben Bailey was the host of Cash Cab, he was a stand-up comedian who drove limos to pay the bills. That side gig turned out to be useful when he auditioned for the show. According to NJ.com, Bailey demonstrated his skills behind the wheel by scoring a 92 on his taxi license exam. He got the Cash Cab job, and left his old chauffeuring job behind. But he still does stand-up comedy (in fact, he’s touring now).

4. BAILEY HAS SECRET HELPERS.

Cash Cab can’t run on one man or one vehicle alone; Bailey has a crew close by at all times. Esquire reported that a black van housing the audio and video team trails behind the car. Bailey also has assistants who hop into the cab after he has revealed his identity to passengers. They’ll get contestants to sign their release forms, then work the lights and music. These assistants also, crucially, keep track of how much money is on the line.

5. SOME CONTESTANTS ARE SELECTED AHEAD OF TIME.

Not all passengers are chosen randomly off the street. Some are prescreened, although even that process is a little sneaky. According to previous contestants, the Cash Cab staff often approaches people by saying they work for a made-up series called Show Me New York, where residents share their favorite spots in the city. They’ll give prospective contestants a quiz. If they do well, the staffers will tell them to go to a certain location to film their segment. That’s when they get in the cab, and Bailey reveals the ruse.

6. NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO PLAY.

Ben Bailey and the Cash Cab
Discovery Channel

While most people shriek in delight when the lights go off in the Cash Cab, not everyone is into the game. Bailey told NPR that when the show was first starting out, people regularly declined to participate. “People would kind of look at me and go, 'I don’t know what this crazy cab driver is up to, but I am out of here,'" he said. After the show gained attention, more passengers stuck around. But Bailey still got some hold-outs.

“I’ve had a couple people who burst into tears in the cab when I’ve told them what was going on,” he told Thrillist. “One time someone seemed to have some sort of panic attack, and then another time, this one woman was having an awful day—she just wanted to get in the cab and get where she needed to go. I was like, ‘Why are you crying in the Cash Cab? This is supposed to be fun, man!’”

7. THE CASH CAB IS FREE.

Regardless of how well they do, contestants never pay a fare for riding in the Cash Cab. Bailey still runs the meter, because the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission requires drivers to keep a record of the trip, but there’s no fee at the end of the trip. As Bailey puts it: The Cash Cab is one of only two free rides in New York. The other is the Staten Island Ferry.

8. THE BIGGEST PAYOUT WAS $6200.

To date, the biggest winner in Cash Cab history is a man named Sam, who took a ride with Bailey in 2011. He correctly answered a Video Bonus question about the Bonneville Salt Flats, doubling his $3100 in prize money to $6200. Anyone looking to beat Sam this season had better study up on America’s salt pans.

9. THE ORIGINAL CASH CAB WAS A TOYOTA SIENNA.

During the show’s original run, the Cash Cab was a Toyota Sienna minivan, sporting the taxi number 1G12. According to the Associated Press, the specs were so well-known that fans would chant the taxi number at Bailey’s standup shows in New York.

10. THE OLD CASH CAB IS CURRENTLY IN BAILEY’S GARAGE.

When the old Cash Cab minivan retired, it wound up in Bailey’s own garage in Morristown, New Jersey. “My neighbors are like, ‘Are you a cab driver?’” he told Entertainment Weekly. Bailey admits that he sometimes takes the car out for a drive, to “get people excited just to disappoint them.”

11. NO ONE HAS EVER THROWN UP IN THE CASH CAB.

Bailey gets this question all the time and would like to set the record straight: Nobody has ever puked in the Cash Cab. “Surprisingly, no one has,” he told the New York Post. “Once in a while you get someone who is a little disgruntled when they lose, but no release of bodily [fluids] happens on my watch.”

Hopefully, that streak will continue with the show's return.

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40 Years Later: Watch The Johnny Cash Christmas Show
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Over the course of his career, Johnny Cash made a series of Christmas TV specials and recorded a string of Christmas records. In this 1977 TV performance, Cash is in great form. He brings special guests Roy Clark, June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison ("Pretty Woman" starts around 23:50), Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers. Tune in for Christmas as we celebrated it 40 years ago—with gigantic shirt collars, wavy hair, and bow ties. So many bow ties.

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