Masters of Sex: Pilot
July 3, 2014 5:33 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Dr. William Masters, a successful doctor of obstetrics and gynecology, begins his controversial study of human sexuality. Dr. Masters recruits Virginia Johnson to be his secretary, but she quickly advances to be a valuable associate.
posted by oh yeah! (13 comments total)
This series was one of my favorite new shows of 2013, and I'm planning on re-watching all of S1 in anticipation of next weekend's S2 premiere. For anyone who missed the original run - Showtime will be doing a marathon on 7/4 & 7/5, 6pm-midnight, and depending on your cable package S1 is still up on free VOD, and it's up on Amazon (not sure if that's for buying only or for free streaming).

I haven't yet read the book that inspired the series - Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love, so I know very little about which events & people are real and which were invented for the show. But I think one of the strengths of the writing is that it doesn't rely on the suspense of keeping the audience wondering what will happen. Instead there are many scenes where we know more than the characters do, and the suspense comes from waiting for them to find out what we already have.

Another strength of the show is how well they do the sex scenes - they're always done in a way that's relevant to characterization, not just for titillation. So in the pilot we get the sad joyless sex scene between William Masters & Libby contrasted with the enthusiasm of Virginia & Dr. Haas, or between study subjects Jane & Dr. Langham.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:06 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I liked this show (and so did my girlfriend.) I think Dr Masters' motivations are a little opaque during a few episodes in the middle of the season, but it's well worth the watch. I agree with you, oh yeah!, that the sex scenes really serve the plot more than most shows.
posted by Catblack at 8:35 PM on July 3, 2014

I liked the AV Club recap summary of Masters in the pilot:

Masters himself is a tricky character. He’s brilliant, progressive, and easy to root for, but he’s so deluded and hypocritical, at times, about his own life, and especially his relationship with his wife. His motivations are good, but circuitous. How can a man so committed to helping women have babies be so unable to help his own wife with the same process? How can a man so invested in researching sex take so little joy in having sex himself? Michael Sheen plays him so seamlessly it’s hard to remember that there’s a British actor there who has played flamboyant news personalities and prime ministers. All we get is the puzzling exterior of the man, with all of the cracks laid bare, but as yet untouched. A riddle in a white coat and bow tie.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:06 PM on July 3, 2014

Michael Sheen plays him so seamlessly it’s hard to remember that there’s a British actor there who has played flamboyant news personalities and prime ministers.

And a rebellious werewolf.
posted by homunculus at 9:19 PM on July 3, 2014

This is a great show and it does seem like it's not gotten the attention that it deserves.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:05 PM on July 5, 2014

Ivan - I think the show got a lot of good reviews, but, yeah, I don't think it's made great inroads pop-culture-wise. It's a great show for mefites though, glad Fanfare is here now.

I won't be able to get all 12 S1 episode threads up before the S2 premiere with the 24-hour limit on posting, so, if anyone else wants to submit some feel free.
posted by oh yeah! at 2:54 PM on July 5, 2014

Ok, so, is it silly for me to keep posting an episode a day when there are 0 comments on the previous episode's thread? I could give up on S1 and assume that activity will pick up when S2 starts, but I'm nearly up to the S1 episode I most want to discuss.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:29 AM on July 8, 2014

It doesn't hurt anything and there are a number of variables involved in how many comments your post will get; interest is one among several. Also the threads don't close for a long time and, as the new season begins, there will likely be some people who will discover the show and go back and watch the first season episodes. Maybe they'll add comments later as they watch those episodes.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:18 PM on July 8, 2014

Really enjoyed the pilot, can't wait to check out more of the series.
posted by drezdn at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2014

I watched the first season last year and re watched the first episode when I saw this fanfare thread. I really enjoyed the first season, but this show does have an unconventional feel to it at times. A sort of detachment that mirrors Dr Masters perhaps? Take the music cues for the pilot episode, they seem to be used primarily as ways to delineate scene changes and set time periods more so than to build drama. It gives the show a strange held back quality.

I think the writing, particularly in the first half dozen episodes can also be a little uneven and this also contributes to the series being a bit of a slow burner. Well worth persisting though.

I'm really looking forward to seeing season two when it airs again later in the month here in Australia.
posted by bakery at 2:41 AM on July 17, 2014

Just started watching this on DVD. Utterly hooked by the pilot. I agree thee sex scenes are particularly well done.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:47 PM on October 5, 2014

Welcome, mbrubeck - the MoS threads didn't generate many comments, but, I liked the AV Club & Vulture/NY Mag recaps, if you're looking for additional show analysis.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:32 PM on October 6, 2014

Just getting into this. I love period shows and unpacking it with my buddy watcher is a lot of fun, it being more interesting and less problematic than MadMen.
posted by tilde at 3:55 PM on August 7, 2017

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