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Monday, March 26, 2012

Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party

A fine Mad Men Season 5 debut tonight on AMC.  Here are some of the highlights -

Don and Megan are married and, actually, all things considered, more or less happy together.  The more - Don is crazy about Megan, or at least her body.  He wants her so much he wants her in the office. Megan loves Don and wants to please him.  That includes making a surprise birthday party for Don, which doesn't please him.  Here's where the less happy comes in.  Main reasons given by Don: it's not really his birthday (Whitman, whom Megan knows about,  had a birth date six months earlier);  and, Don doesn't like the office people in his home.  That includes Harry (whom Don can't stand - or so Peggy tells Megan).  But Harry sure loves looking at Megan and her French dance (which she does for Don and guests at the party).  Don's real displeasure at Megan and the party, alas, stems from his not being able to really love anyone.

Speaking of Harry - he's looking a little less like Isaac Asimov (that is, Rich Sommer playing Harry), but he's getting pushed around more, now losing his office, because Pete, always sure he's being slighted, wants a bigger place to do his business.   So the two switch offices, with Harry ending up in Pete's office, "a shit hole with a support beam," in Harry's words, and one of the best lines of the evening.  Harry's on the defensive, because he's waxing on about how Megan excites him, as Megan walks into the office-kitchen where Harry's talking.   As someone with a brief in the still up-and-coming world of TV ads (it's just after Memorial Day, 1966), Harry should have more sway in the firm.  Will be interesting to see how this develops.

Joan's sway in the firm needs to be reasserted.   She drops by with her baby boy, a few months old.  Roger knows the baby is his.   He still loves Joan.  The baby will likely pull them together, notwithstanding that Joan told Greg last season that the baby was his.  I wouldn't be surprised if Greg doesn't make it back from Vietnam.

Peggy still has the keenest mind in Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce - even though her animated beans commercial doesn't fly with client Heinz (maybe the slogan should have been "beans, beans, the magical fruit").  But she's right on in her interpersonal advice, telling Megan that Don won't like his party (they could have played "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To" in Don's honor at that party).  Actually, Joan is pretty astute, too - though in a different way than Peggy.

In many ways, Lane had the most quintessentially Mad Men episode in tonight's two-hour show.  He finds a wallet in a cab, finds a photo of a hot brunette in the wallet, and falls for her.   Her voice on the phone sounds great - he calls her, on the partial pretext of wanting to return the wallet to its owner (partial because in addition to that reason, he wants to find out more about the woman in the picture).  He doesn't quite manage to convince her to let him come by her place to return the wallet, and instead is obliged to return the wallet to its owner when he comes by the office.   But if major developments arising out of chance encounters in Mad Men of the past is any guide, that photo in the wallet in the cab will be a game changer for Lane.  He's off and running.

And so are we, with a bevvy of attractively dysfunctional characters,  good derriere shots, the Civil Rights movement, and a great Dusty Springfield song at the end.   Good to have Mad Men back.

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 ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

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

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"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

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