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Monday, August 18, 2008

Mad Men 2.4: Betty and Don's Son

At least three powerful story lines in tonight's episode (2.4) of Mad Men ... Peggy's relationship with her jealous sister and a young priest ... American Airlines of course falls through after Sterling Cooper pulls out all the stops for a pitch on Good Friday ... but the story that I found the most winning was Bobby's (Don and Betty's sweet, highly intelligent, little boy).

Betty's been on Bobby's case all season, growing increasingly intolerant of the little lies and things that little boys do. It comes to a head tonight, as Betty, in her least attractive moment (emotionally, she still looked beautiful) urges Don to spank Bobby and be a better disciplining father.

Don's relationship with his own father, and the beatings he endured, makes him averse to any kind of punishment for Bobby, let alone a spanking. In a superb scene with the two of them, Don explains this to Bobby, who notes that Don's father is dead, and Don could use a new one. Don hugs him. An outstanding performance by the two of them - but special kudos to seven-year old Aaron Hart, and a really classic, heart-warming rendition of little Bobby. I'd give Aaron an Emmy just for that.

Meanwhile - what's got into Betty? Why is she acting so, well, cruel to her son? The Freudian answer is that she's taking out the resentment she has for Don on Bobby ... Well, Freud's a little obvious, but more so now then back in 1962.

Children of course played a major role in The Sopranos, Matthew Wiener's other great work (in a supporting creative role with David Chase). And so did at least one priest, and his interaction with Carmela. The priest in tonight's Mad Men, and the hint of the romantic relationship he might have imagined with Peggy, resonated a little with The Sopranos.

That's a good thing. Both The Sopranos and Mad Men are among the best stories ever to be told on television.

See also: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 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

And listen to my fabulous 20-minute interview last Fall with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through

The Plot to Save Socrates

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"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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