Monday, July 28, 2008

Mad Men Returns with a Xerox Machine and a Call Girl

Mad Men returned for its much awaited second season tonight, with a quiet story that featured a new ungainly xerox machine in the middle of the office, and Betty and Don running into a old roommate of hers who now is a high priced call girl - on Valentine's Day, no less. Also of note - Harry's back with the Mrs. and they're expecting, Pete's wife would like to be, and Peggy's brighter and stronger than ever in the office, with no sign of the baby she had at the end of last season. It's February 1962, Jackie's giving her White House tour on television, and the characters seem to have hardly aged a day since we last saw them around Thanksgiving 1960. Everyone looks great and better than ever - maybe because they're just a little closer to our own time.

Youth, however, is in the air at the office. Cooper seems to have been replaced by his son - (actually not, as my vigilant commentators have informed me (see Comments); the arrogant youngo is Duck Phillips, introduced late last season (I knew he looked familiar :) -no one likes him much, of course - and Don gets a directive from Roger (apparently recovered from his heart attack) to hire some younger people. Don's take on youth - that they don't know anything but don't know it - was one of the savvier interludes of the show. (I disagree, by the way - I'm still pretty sure I knew just about everything of importance in life by the time I was 20, maybe even 17. But, then, again, I still pretty much feel like 17.)

Also excellent, as always, is Don's astute take on what it really takes to make an effective ad. In the case of the firm's airline client, it's not adventure or sex but coming home safely to family.

The flavor of the show was a bit more muted than I recall last year, but this is just the first course. One thing is clear - as was the case last year, Mad Men is unique, and a xerox of nothing that came before it.

The xerox machine, by the way, would go on to revolutionize all aspects of business and literary life - or, as Marshall McLuhan would later put it, "the xerox makes everyone a publisher" (see my Digital McLuhan, 1999, p. 120, for more). The xerox machine, in other words, was one of the first steps towards blogging...

See also: 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... ... 2.3: Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6 Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12: The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men

Also: Reviews of Mad Men, Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... 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 ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

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