Monday, August 23, 2010

Mad Men 4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis

An at times scalding, playful episode of Mad Men 4.5 tonight, my favorite in this season so far.

First, a character I just can't stand anymore - certainly not my favorite, but powerfully played and sadly fascinating - pours the most scalding water into show.   Betty first slaps Sally because she cut her hair, and then insists that Sally start seeing a child shrink (the shrink is only 6 years old  - no, only kidding) because Sally is caught by a neighbor "playing with herself" (as the neighbor and Betty say).  Sally is 10 years old at this point in the story, and I know attitudes were somewhat more puritanical and embarrassed by any sexuality back then, but the former Betty Draper now Betty Francis has got to be one of the worst, neurotically repressed mothers ever depicted on television.  She's almost becoming Mad Men's equivalent to Livia Soprano, at least psychologically.

Back at the office, Roger pours some of his own scalding coffee into the show, doing his best to sabotage the deal that our gang is desperately trying to land with Honda.  Roger can't forgive the Japanese for World War II.   But our company needs the business, and as Pete correctly says, the war has been over almost 20 years.

Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce have competition from another ad firm, and Don pulls one of his best moves - faking out the competitor, getting them to believe that SCDP is making an expensive television ad as part of its pitch to Honda, which would violate Honda' rules of engagement (don't spend more than three grand on the presentation, and no finished products).  We see all kinds of wool pulled over lots of people's eyes, including Peggy doing her part, riding around on a Honda behind closed doors, to simulate production of any expensive ad which is in fact not being made.

The competitor takes the bait and submits it own expensive commercial.  This leads to Honda holding the competitor in far lower esteem than SCDP, who withdraw their bid rather than compete with an ad agency that breaks the rules.   The Honda honchos are sufficiently impressed, and though our team does not get the motorcycle account, they're given a shot at a nascent campaign for Honda's car (from our vantage point in 2010, we know that's going to be a very lucrative account).

Corporate wheeling and dealing at its best, and family life at its worst, make for one strong episode of Mad Men indeed.

See also Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."
And from Season 3: 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 ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

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

                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle

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

And  check out Natasha Vargas-Cooper's new book ....

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