Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mad Men 10: Life, Death, and Politics

Well, the next Mad Men was well worth waiting two weeks for - Episode 10 was the most powerful story so far, and had a superb piece on Eisenhower and Nixon.

I'll get right to it. Roger has a heart attack after going for a second round in the office with one of a pair of twins being hired for an ad campaign. Don's on hand, with the other twin - not doing anything, because Don wants to get back to Betty and his family, who are in a beach house for the Labor Day Weekend with Betty's father and new girlfriend and the kids (or maybe Don's not interested in the twin because Don's thinking about Rachel). But Don gets Roger to the hospital. The heart attack is serious, and Don is all shook up.

This sets the stage for three of the most important developments in Mad Men thus far:

1. Don comes face to face with his own mortality. We, the viewers, already know this. Every time we hear someone cough in this literally smoking world, we think lung cancer. The other health hazard of smoking is of course heart attack. Given the number of cigarettes that are smoked on the show, we could expect at least half of the characters to be struck by a smoke-induced illness. Has Don made the connection between Roger's heart attack and his smoking? Maybe not quite yet, but he's close.

2. Don calls Betty from the hospital, and their distance has never been more painfully apparent. Don maybe wants to talk, at least a little, about his feelings and proximity to mortality. Betty wants to talk about how much her father's girlfriend irritates her. The most helpful thing she can say to Don is make sure you don't forget to eat.

3. Don goes to Rachel's apartment. They not only sleep together, but it is more clear than ever that the two are soul mates. His relationship with Midge is spent already, and as for Betty...

So Don is now in some pretty new, risky personal territory. Rachel might yet say no to their relationship, but that certainly won't come from Don.

And the politics: It was great to see Eisenhower on the screen again, with that famous answer he gave about what Richard Nixon accomplished as Ike's Vice President. Give me a week, and maybe I can think of something, Ike replies...

Superb show ... even though it had one little anachronism, as always. Comes from Joan, who says, "I'm so over you...." In 1960, on the East Coast? I'm so not believing that....

But I don't really mind... You know, it dawns on me that most of the anachronisms are coming from Joan (she earlier said "the medium is the message"...) Maybe she's a time traveler...

See also reviews of other episodes: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarettes and Nixon Coming ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ... Mad Men 6: The Medium Is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo, Excellent ... Mad Men 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad Men 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through

6-minute podcast review of Mad Men

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
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