"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Monday, October 5, 2009

August Flights in Mad Men 3.8

Almost nothing took place in the office of Mad Men 3.8 tonight, which only makes sense, since it's August 1963, and everyone is literally or figuratively on vacation.

Betty Draper is actually on both, and given a tour-de-force performance by January Jones. She lets Rockefeller's assistant kiss her - after he comes through (at least, for a short time) on the reservoir - and the look on her face was priceless. A hint of self-reproachment, a flash of satisfaction, and much more in the mix of conflicted attraction that's Betty vis-a-vis men other than Don. But we've rarely seen that mix so clearly.

And this is only warm-up for her trip with Don to Rome, on Hilton business. She has the Italian men eating out her hand, as she segues into play-acting with Don as an "ugly American" who succeeds where the Romans have failed. It's like a brief scene out of Fellini, capped off with her half undressed in black with Don in their hotel room - in their most erotic interlude of the series - and their making love not only that evening, but the next morning when Don says he has to get to work. Betty's at the height of her power as a woman whom every man, including Don, spins around.

But the bubble bursts when they're back in Ossining, no Rome in any way. Betty doesn't want to be that wife, and now that we've seen what she can be, now that she has seen it, we can understand a little better why it's so difficult for her back in New York. But the trip has made her a better mother, as she gives good counsel to Sally (and herself) about kissing and boys.

Meanwhile, Pete has an instructive adventure in the warm evenings of August, too. With Trudy away, he makes a play for an au-pair down the hall in his building, helping her replace a gown she ruined. She resists, but, typical of Pete, he gets his way with her anyway, all but against her will. Her employer has to subsequently warn Pete, Trudy's back, and after a day or two of brooding, he tells from now on he'll accompany her when she goes away with her family.

Lots learned by most concerned on these summer excursions, and the momentous Fall of 1963 looms ever closer in this season of Mad Men...

5-min podcast review of Mad Men

See also: Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges

And from Season Two: 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 ... 2.4: 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 ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from 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

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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Steven Chabot said...

"Her employer has to subsequently warn Pete, Trudy's back, and after a day or two of brooding, he tells from now on he'll accompany her when she goes away with her family."

I am surprised you didn't mention Peter's wordless confession. I think it was much more than brooding. It brought up a discussion between my partner and I about infidelity, and the gradations of the (usually) female response. For not all women is it the end of the world (particularly in Rome...). But we will have to see the long term effects of this.

It is a pity if things go bad for Peter and Trudy. I enjoyed their reconciliation and Charleston-ing.

Anonymous said...

No offense Paul, but AMC's Terms and conditions don't allow advertising of any kind. They may delete your posts...just be forewarned.

Paul Levinson said...

I loved the Peter & Trudy Charleston-ing, too! Glad you mentioned it, Steven.

No offense taken, anon. I've been posting links to my Mad Men reviews over on AMC since the day the show began. After the first season, this blog was even listed in the AMC sidebar as a Mad Men blog.

I discuss this issue in my new book, New New Media - it's wise for TV shows to encourage posting of links to substantive reviews on other blogs. It helps generate interest in the shows - and is not really advertising, since nothing is bought and sold. Nor is it spam, if the post and link are related to the subject of the TV message board.