Friday, August 17, 2007

Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men

I didn't have a chance to review Episode 4 last week, and it's just as well, because I thought Episode 5, which I saw last night, was the best episode so far. So I'll give you a double review now - of an excellent episode followed by a real powerhouse.

Two best scenes in Episode 4 were -

Betty is babysitting for neighbor Helen's son Glen, about 12 years old. He walks in on Betty when she's, ah, on the throne, in the bathroom... and he stares.

Like so many other things about Mad Men, the whole scene and Betty's reaction seems so quintessentially 1950s. She reprimands Glen, bur forgives him.
I had the feeling that, if a similar walk-in happened in a TV show situated in 2007, Betty's response would have been subtly but very different. On the one hand, I don't think Betty would've been quite that upset at first - we are a little more relaxed about nudity, men and women sharing dorms, etc. But, on the other hand, Betty might even be more upset, today - she might talk to Don about Glen needing help, because we're obviously much more concerned about sexual harassment, and anything that might lead to it.

So this scene in itself - like the whole series - shows how much things have changed since 1960.

The other really memorable scene in Episode 4 shows just the opposite - how little some things have changed. Don wants to fire Pete, because Pete pitched a slogan to a client without Don's permission - and, what's worse, the client loved it. Roger supports Don, but Mr. Cooper, the big boss, does not - it seems Pete's mother has some very important, blue-blood connections in the city ... Yep, connections, then and now, have always been what it's really most about...

Episode 5 is chock full of good scenes and angles, too. Ken - one of the guys on Don's team - has a story published in Atlantic Monthly. This excites just about everyone's admiration or jealousy. Pete pressures his wife to him get into print - by having her see a publisher who was also the first guy she slept with.

Meanwhile, back at the office, Peggy overhears Don talking to his mistress on the phone...

And Don shows his advertising savvy by coming up with a great title for bank accounts that men keep secret from their wives, and have sent to the office. Not "personal," Don says, "executive" ... (Another classic male chauvinistic touch that you just don't see anymore ... you not only need to keep it secret, you've got to tell yourself it's superior...)

But, unlike the other episodes, this one had a story unfold that kept you riveted to the screen. Don gets a visit from his little brother, Adam - grown up now. The two haven't seen each other in years. Don changed his name and embarked on his new life. His brother wants to reestablish the relationship. That's the last thing Don wants.

Don takes something out of his desk drawer at home, puts it in his briefcase, and goes to see Adam in his hotel room. They talk for a while, then Don reaches into his briefcase and-

I won't give the ending away. I found it satisfying, reassuring, and surprising - at the same time...

Looking forward to the weeks ahead. And there better be a Season 2...

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

great interview with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss)...

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 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 Men 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

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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