Mad Men – Season 4 – The Good News

A Don (Dick) and Joan centric episode.  Great.

I always enjoy an opportunity to see the alter ego of Don Draper, Dick Whitman.  He is just such a nice mix of the sauve-ness (probably not a word) of Don Draper, with the down to earth, caring side of Dick Whitman.  Or at least we see that side of him whenever Anna Draper is involved.  But don’t worry, the episode was book ended by enough of the womanizing, egotistical Don Draper that we do truly love or can’t really do anything but love.  It’s Don Draper after all.

On his way to a trip of definite debauchery in Acapulco, Don stops off in LA to visit Anna.  What he finds out on this stopover changes his life.  This person who loves him unconditionally, is facing certain death and doesn’t know it.  Tough call on everyone’s part to not tell her.  Which begs a very interesting ethical dilemma.  Would you want to know, if there was nothing that you could do about it?  This news does change a lot for Don and it will definitely play a big part as we go through the season and we see how Don must deal with the potential and eventual loss of Anna.

With this news, he cannot continue on his trip and returns to work.  This decision ends up creating, what I see as, a turning point in his relationship with British partner Lane.  Nothing like a few drinks, a good Japanese Godzilla movie, rubbing a huge steak on your pants (pretending it’s a Texas belt buckle), some homosexual comments at a comedy show and hookers to change a dynamic.  Don really knows how to show a very reserved guy a good time.  Didn’t take Don long to compartmentalize his feelings for Anna and find comfort in his favourite hookers arms.  And wow, hookers were $25 back then.  I really don’t know if that’s a good deal or not.  Probably pretty expensive for 1965.  Wow, 1965.  A year full of history for America.  Vietnam, Malcolm-X being shot, and the riots in Watts in LA.  How will this all be addressed by Mad Men.

Now, for one of everyone’s favourite, Joan.  We learned a lot about her this week.  She’s had two “procedures” in her past, but hopefully that won’t hurt her chances to get pregnant with her husband, who has such an explosive personality (but not in all aspects 0f his life).  We did get to see him actually handle a situation this week.  We could see that he truly does know how to do his job well when he was helping Joan after the orange juice incident.  I think that he really changed a lot of people’s view of him, including Joan, and finally she can let someone else handle a crisis.

I must say, I do love the way that Joan handles herself in the office.  She’s a woman who is trail blazer for the time.  Joan takes no crap from anyone and is so professional when she does.

Really another great episode and only a few references to Betty and we didn’t have to see that creepy kid Glen.  I’m sure they will be back soon enough.

Mad Men – Season 4 – Christmas Comes But Once A Year

Second week into season 4 and I’m becoming a happy Mad Men viewer.  Felt a bit strange watching a Christmas episode while sweating hot on the first day of August, but it helped to but a chill in the air, if only for an hour.

The first Christmas for Don as a separated man.  He receives a letter, address to Santa/Don Draper, from the kids.  What a good dad, while heading off to Acapulco for his Christmas,  he’s happy to fork out the dough to his assistant to go out and buy the gifts for the kids.  How thoughtful.  But that’s what was done in the day (not the Acapulco part).  Secretaries, as they were called at the time, not executive assistants, did pretty much everything for their bosses.  As we saw on last night’s episode, they really perform all tasks from shopping to bringing keys to drunk bosses and a few other acts.

This episode really got back on track to the Mad Men that we love.  With the return, of the now sober, Freddy, that odd dynamic between he and Peggy returned.  Old school creative man and new school of thought woman.  Saying that, Peggy is modern, but portraying an old fashioned mind girl to her boyfriend (let’s wait, it’ll be worth it – sure Peggy, you’ve had more partners than junior has, I’m sure).  Can’t wait to see when the truth comes out all that.  Her boyfriend represents what I think Peggy thinks she should be, but she is well passed that now.

Thanks to it being Christmas, we got to see a big blow out office party to impress the Lucky Strike big shooter.   As requested, Joan took the party “from convalescent home to Roman orgy.”  What ever Lee wanted he was to get, including drinks, women and one of those new fan-dangled Polaroid camera, which he was happy to use to thoroughly embarrass Roger with.  Whatever the client wants, the client gets.

This episode opened up many possible story lines for the upcoming season and a huge selection of woman for Don.  Including a consumer research expert, Dr. Faye Miller, the nurse from across the hall and his secretary.  The latter will definitely be an issue.  Don was intrigued, or maybe scared, by Dr. Miller and her insight into him and also her point about how he would be married within a year.   Hmmmm.

One last, albeit creepy, observation, was that kid Glen and what will his role and relationship will be with Sally.  What’s that about?

Mad Men – Season 4 – Public Relations

I’m thrilled to have Mad Men back.  I’ve missed you.  The finale of season 3 was so intriguing.  What was going to come of this new agency with the choice and interesting characters that were asked to join it.

When we join the Mad Men team, they are a couple of months into the new agency and they are out of the hotel room and into an office space that is lacking a boardroom table.  Fun and interesting comedy.  People sitting around in a circle with ashtrays in their laps.  Makes me think that this will be that constant subtle joke as the season goes on.

Now, I love Mad Men and there have been changes with the dumping of the dead wood characters, new situations and new roles that need to be established, but I didn’t find this episode to be that entertaining.  I left wanting more.  That could be that I’ve been waiting for its return for so long.  I guess wanted to know more about the truly interesting characters like Joan, Pete and Peggy.  Not so interested in Betty and her new life.  But, that could just be me and I know that we see more about them as the season goes on.  It can’t all happen in one episode.  That would be a movie, not a series.  Just want it all and want it now.  It needed to centre around Don and Betty and the new agency.  Which I guess is a lot to cover off in an hour.

(Sorry if doesn’t work if you are running off of a Canadian internet provider)

But this episode did seem flat and didn’t really grab me.  Again, I’m a fan and will stick with it, as it can only get better.

As for my friends who decided to start watching Mad Men for the first time on Sunday, I suggest that you go back to the beginning of season one and catch up from there.  This is a complex show with great characters and you need to know their back stories and how they all got to this point.

Glad your back Mad Men, now live up to my expectations.  Please!