Category Archives: Mad Men Recaps

Saturday Odds & Sods: Second Hand News

Rick Griffin Flying Eyeball

1969 Avalon Ballroom concert poster by Rick Griffin.

The holidays are upon us in New Orleans. That means erratic weather: in the last week we’ve run both the heater and air-conditioner. It makes me want to re-shoot an old feline-centric Python sketch as Confuse A Human. I think Della Street might like that…

It was a harrowing week because of the horrendous slaughter in Southern California. I said all I have to say about it on Thursday. As a matter of fact, Crooks and Liars picked up Still Comfortably Numb. Thanks, y’all. I only wish it hadn’t been necessary to write it but the mass shootings keep on coming. That’s why I’m deliberately keeping it light this week. We’ve had enough blood and guts and bad news to last a lifetime:

The stupid keeps flying at us. My favorite this week was Tailgunner Ted’s insistence that the hairy loon who shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was a “transgendered leftist activist.” It made no sense whatsoever but it made me wonder if Cruz has read this Vidal classic:

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End of obligatory Gore Vidal reference. Let’s move on to this week’s theme song.

It struck me that Second Hand News is a perfect theme song for this feature. All I do is purvey second hand news, make a few jokes, and post some pictures and videos. Second Hand News is a frequent set opener for Fleetwood Mac, and it’s an excellent table setter for their, uh, set.

I just recalled the first time I saw the Buckingham-Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac. It was a 1975 (yeah, I’m old, deal with it) Bill Graham extravaganza at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium. It was dubbed, Day On The Green #3: The British Are Coming. Fleetwood Mac hadn’t quite broken out yet commercially and were fourth billed under Robin Trower, Peter Frampton, and Dave Mason. It was a great show and, oddly enough, Dave Mason later served a brief tour of duty in Fleetwood Mac as the irreplaceable Lindsey Buckingham’s replacement. Speaking of Lindsey, he’s just second hand news, just second hand news, yeaaaah.

We’ll begin with the studio version from Rumours followed by a 2012 live version with a smashing drum intro by the world’s tallest rock star, Mick Fleetwood.

I wonder if Lindsey could still grow the white boy fro he had in the 1970’s? If so, I am deeply envious. It’s possible that I might Go Insane with jealousy:

You didn’t take me literally did you? I would hope not. I am prone to exaggeration, after all. Now that I’ve painted myself into another corner, it’s time for the break.

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Sunday Morning Video: Matthew Weiner At The NYPL

I’ve written about Matthew Weiner’s May 2oth appearance at the New York Public Library after the Mad Men finale. We finally have video. I’m not sure why it’s divided into 2 parts, but it’s free so beggars can’t be choosers:

Mad Men Thread: Person To Person

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The most important thing Matthew Weiner learned from David Chase was this: Leave the Russian in the woods. In short, it’s okay to be subtle, ambiguous and  leave something to the viewers’ imagination. That’s exactly what Weiner did in the Mad Men series finale, Person To Person. It was something that was lost on the twitterati. It’s one reason I never live tweet Mad Men. That’s okay for sports but Mad Men requires that you put the fucking phone down and pay attention.

Unlike The Sopranos where people didn’t change because it was easier to be a wise guy, the characters on Mad Men *have* changed and evolved over the years. I just re-watched the first two seasons and was stuck by how jerky most of the guys in the bullpen were, even my main man Deadeye Cosgrove. He was not a monumental asshole like Pete Campbell but he was an entitled jerk who thought he was God’s gift to women. It was before he became a GIF dancer I suppose. Oddly enough, Harry Crane was the least jerky guy at Sterling, Cooper so he changed for the worst.

The ending has occasioned the most discussion online and elsewhere, but we’ll get to that after the break. First, a picture of Pete and the Pegster’s farewell:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: On The Street Where You Live

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I’ve made a few tweaks to this Saturday feature. Calling it Saturday Odd & Sods was so obvious that it didn’t occur to me until I had a Homeric insight yesterday. Homer Simpson, that is. D’OH.

In honor of the Mad Men series finale tomorrow, I have substituted the season-6 poster above for the usual Who in football helmets album cover. I’m either a substitute for another guy or the face, I’m not exactly sure which.

There will be some rather interesting Mad Men material after the break. But first this week’s theme song, which appeared in the pilot episode way back in 2007:

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Mad Men Thread: The Hobo Coda

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There was a lot going on in the penultimate (a word I love as much as eponymous) episode of Mad Men, The Milk and Honey Route. I’ll let the Guardian’s Will Dean explain the reference instead of cribbing from it:

The milk and honey route, from which this penultimate episode takes its name, was the hobo nickname for one of the train lines running through Utah. It got its name from the generosity of Mormons who would feed the itinerant travellers but, as this piece by the American sociologist Nels Anderson explains, the term has come to mean any route taken which has a promise of better things to come. It’s the route Don is on, wherever he’s headed. Anderson writes:

“What may be a milk and honey route to one hobo may not be so to another. A hobo may fare well on a route one time and another time fare ill. Again, it may be milk and honey for a road kid but not for an old timer.”

That reference, in turn, got me circling back to a flashback from Season-1, Episode-8, you guessed it, the Hobo Code. In that flashback, young Dick Whitman is made an “honorary hobo” by the real deal. Ever since those days, Don’s personal code has been flight, not fight. In this episode, he’s running away from his past as Don Draper and the demons that have haunted him since Korea. His plan, such as it is, is to keep running but other developments may get in the way.

Our old friend the dog abandoning headhunter Duck Phillips returns to tempt Pete Campbell and to drink his booze. More about that after the break but first a picture:

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Mad Men Thread: Lost Horizon

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Lost Horizon was a 1933 Utopian novel by James Hilton. It was adapted into a movie by Frank Capra in 1937 and laid an egg at the box office for a variety of reasons including a Utopia that resembled a Midwestern hotel lobby. Ronald Colman, an actor known for his pretty mug and mellifluous voice, starred as Robert Conway who found, lost and then once again found his Shangri-La. Sound familiar? Like Don Draper with an English accent? That’s *one* of the reasons the latest installment of Mad Men is  aptly entitled Lost Horizon.

Don Draper isn’t the only one who feels defeated and lost in the wake of SCP’s sale to the barbarian hordes of McCann and Malaka. There is buyer’s and seller’s remorse on both sides as the sale breaks up our old gang, and introduces an element of chaos into the well-ordered office of the large, impersonal, corporate ad agency. Loss pervades the entire episode even among those who are ostensibly winners: Don and Jim Hobart who landed his white whale. The only characters who are happy with the change are  a depressingly sweaterless Ted Chaough, Pete Campbell whose WASP credentials will help the heavily Hibernian agency, and Harry Crane: human cockroach. Harry is a survivor and he’ll thrive at McCann and Malaka because he *is* one, a malaka, that is. I hope that won’t be the last time we see Roger insult Harry but if it was, what a way to go out.

The customary random and discursive comments will follow the break and this picture of the Pegster strutting down the hall at McCann like a Mod goddess (modess?) near episode’s end:

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Mad Men Thread: Everything Must Go

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This week’s recap is late because it was like a bloody Carpenters song in New Orleans yesterday. John Phillips was obviously right: Monday, Monday can’t trust that day. If I recall correctly, the color of Roger’s jacket was a hue unknown to nature, electric blue. I had the electric blues yesterday: power flickers and internet wonkiness so I threw in the towel and decided to write this today. Too much information? Perhaps, but what’s a bit of oversharing among friends?

As much as I hate to agree with the conventional wisdom on anything, in this case I do: Time & Life was by far and away the best episode of the Season 7 rump of Mad Men. Glad I don’t have to give it a rump roast. There were plot twists aplenty, and it evoked some of the best past episodes of the series including this image of Pete Campbell in a wee punch-up at a fancy school in Greenwich, CT:

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Remember in Season-5 when dweeby Brit Lane Pryce kicked Pete’s equally dweeby preppie ass? Jared Harris who played Lane directed this episode and I think he gave Vincent Kartheiser some pugilistic pointers. More random and discursive comments after the break or is that round? I promise to answer the bell.

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Mad Men Thread: You Just Ooze Everywhere

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Thus spake Sally at the end of The Forecast. She was aggravated at having to play second fiddle to both Betty and Don in this episode so she let Big Daddy have it like one of those pesky no-neck monsters in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. It didn’t work. Don reminded her how much like both parents she is. I quite agree. She wanted the limelight just like they do and was snippy over her friend Sarah’s flirting with Don as well as a certain person’s obvious infatuation with Betty. More about that later.

The Forecast was clearly the best episode of Season-7 mach two thus far. In the previous episode, Don looked back whereas this time around he asked all and sundry what their dreams and hopes for the future were. Neither Sally nor Peggy took it very well. In Peggy’s case, she was upset that Don wanted her to look past advertising and discuss the big picture. Don is having a hard time coping with the agency’s success and is appalled that Ted Chaough’s vision of the future was confined to advertising. Ted’s career crisis is clearly over. Me, I was appalled that Ted wasn’t wearing a sweater. What’s up with that, Teddy boy? It’s not nice to make me er, sweat…

As Don groped for a bigger meaning to life, I was brought back to the song that concluded Severance: Is That All There Is? Don has at least moved on from the Zou Bissou Bissou memorial penthouse by selling it.

More random and meandering comments after the break.  The Veep  circa 1970 might have even called me a nattering nabob of negativism. Note that I don’t call Spiro T Agnew my countryman, he didn’t embrace his ethnicity until he ran for national office. Oy, such malakatude.

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Mad Men Thread: Don Draper’s Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

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There’s been a lot of kvetching among the Mad Men punditocracy and fan base about New Business. Much of it is based on animus towards Megan and her big scary teeth, and some of it is from people craving big plot developments. It *is* a still episode, but I’ve always liked Mad Men for its moments. It’s what the show is all about: moments and characters, not fast paced action. And yes, I, too, want to see Sally, Jim Cutler as well as Ted Chaough’s latest sweater. I suspect he’s moved on to sweater vests by now…

Viewers may be expecting big things from the last few episodes but, like Peggy and unlike Stan, Matthew Weiner doesn’t give a damn what others think. He’ll pursue his artistic vision to the, more likely than not, bitter end.

I’ll dive in to the deep end of  the episode after the break, but first the divine Mimi Rogers as Pima Ryan:

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Mad Men Thread: Is That All There Is?

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I was hoping the second part of Mad Men season 7 would be a mini-season of 8 episodes but we’ll have to be satisfied with a mini-mini-season of 6. Damn you, Matthew Weiner, you’re taking that David Chase disciple thing too far. On the other hand, better Peggy Lee than Journey…

Things have moved along at SC & P, which has become an independent subsidiary of advertising monolith, McCann, Erickson. The sale has left lingering tensions between the partners and other core characters and it pops up in scenes between Peggy and Joan and Pete and Deadeye Ken Cosgrove. R is for resentment, especially from Ken who is in for a royal screwing in this episode but we’ll get to that a bit later.

Don has divorced Megan and has reverted to his natural state as a feral bachelor. The rub is that while Don wants to cat around, he doesn’t like living alone. In short, he wants to have a wife to cheat on.

I’ll make some random and discursive comments about Severance after the break, but first one of my favorite images from the episode:

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Mad Men Mania

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The final season of Mad Men starts next Sunday, which means I’ll be recapping the show once again. The Matthew Weiner cone of silence seems to be holding, so anything I say today is mere speculation but what’s a little speculation among friends?

Season 6 ended with Don Draper being suspended from the agency. I think he’ll return and that the series will end with either his resignation or death. Megan will NOT be Sharon Tate but there will be allusions to the Tate-LaBianca murders. I’m not sure if Sally and Weird Glenn will run away and join the Manson family but I have a hunch that they’ll go to Woodstock.

At the firm, I think that Ted Chaough and his sweaters will stay at the home office and that Stan and his fringed Roger Daltrey jacket will go West to head up the LA outpost. Who knows Stan may even hang out with Terry (Manson’s Real Target) Melcher and help Brian Wilson put that sandbox in his living room.

I’m hoping for more mordant interplay between Cutler and Roger. They really need to share the screen more. I think Peggy will continue to be mistress of the universe only without the whole dominatrix thing. I’m less sure of what will happen with Joan but Pete Campbell will continue to be insufferable. I’m also reasonably certain our dreams of Sal Romano’s return will be dashed for good. There hasn’t been a peep in NOLA about Bryan Batt rejoining the cast so Sal be gone for good, alas.

Okay, that was rank speculation. There are a plethora of short teaser videos at AMC’s Mad Men site but I’m going to share just two vids. The first is a psychedelic teaser featuring Milton Glaserianimagery just like the fabulous poster he designed for Season 7:

Finally, here’s the last scene from Season 6 wherein Don takes his kids to see the old whorehouse homestead:

Mad Men Thread: Fly Me To The Moon

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The mid-season finale of Mad Men is an instant classic. Matthew Weiner successfully messed with us by titling it Waterloo. It meant that we expected a downer of an episode, instead the first half of Season-7 ended on a high note. I daresay it was a happy ending for everyone except for Bert Cooper and No Problem Lou. Who the hell expected a happy ending from Weiner and company? Surely not me. One reason for that was the moon landing as a backdrop, which was a tonic to the American spirit in the real world and helped the Pegster land the Burger Chef account on Mad Men.

The episode conjured up images of the Season-3 finale, Shut The Door Have A Seat, wherein our main characters resisted a sale to one of the big agencies and started the firm now known as SC&P. There’s, of course, a big old twist, but we’ll get to that after the break. First, a picture of Robert Morse going back to his roots and doing the old sock shoe:

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Mad Men Thread: Did you park your white horse outside?

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The penultimate episode of the 2014 mini-season, The Strategy, is Mad Men at its finest. It has many interesting themes, images, and meditations about what constitutes a family in 1969. The episode title refers to Peggy’s pitch for the Burger Chef account but there are various strategies running throughout the episode. Peggy *thinks* she likes her traditional family strategy for the new account: Lou and Pete are onboard but both of them are mired in 1950’s expectations of gender roles. Don backs the Pegster at the meeting but expresses reservations in private. Despite their differences, he is still Don Fucking Draper, her mentor and the most powerful presence in her life hence the white horse reference. The scene between Don and Peggy in her office near the end of the episode conjures up The Suitcase, one of the greatest episodes in the show’s history. Peggy refers to 1965 being a very good year, it was when that episode was set, and it was the first time we saw Don and Peggy interact as equals.

Time for me to natter, babble, and ramble about the episode after the break, but first another picture:

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Mad Men Thread: Scout’s Honor

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I’m in the minority among the Mad Men punditocracy (at least the ones I read) about this episode. They’ve been complaining about the episodic nature of The Runaways, it may be true but it doesn’t bother me a bit. The best thing about Mad Men has always been the moments and this episodic episode is full of them. I suspect they’ll be tied together momentarily…

It’s random and scattershot comment time, but first a picture of the Draper siblings:

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Mad Men Thread: Stanley Kubrick Meets Tom Seaver

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Progess has come to SC&P via the big ass IBM 360 mainframe computer that Harry Crane has been whining about and finally scored. Jim Cutler decided to display it for all to see, and takes away the lounge that the creatives used to hang out in and do their best work. Ginsburg and the Pegster are not amused. The artist formerly known as Don Fucking Draper is so out of the loop that he doesn’t even receive the memo announcing the ceremony whereat Crane and Cutler wear hard hats for no discernible reason. It’s not a good look for either of them. Of course, Harry Hamlin dressed up in a gorilla suit when he played Michael Kuzak on LA Law so a silly hat is no big whoop for him.

The Monolith contains some heavy-handed symbolism, even by Mad Men standards, but it works. I guess I’m a sucker for heavy-handed symbolism. Forrest Wickman of Slate wrote a fine piece detailing all the 2001:A Space Odyssey references, so I’ll refrain from piling on; other than to say Stanley Kubrick was God to film buffs in 1969, so I halfway expected them to mention the film more directly, but I’m glad that they did not. Nary a hint of Richard Strauss on the soundtrack either…

1969 is the year the New York Mets went from being the lovable losers of the Casey Stengel era to winning the World Series. Star pitcher Tom Seaver is a good comp for Don Draper in some ways. He was good-looking and super talented but not known for being a drunk. Don notices a Mets pennant under a book case in Lane’s old office, hangs it up and decides to be a Mets fan. For now at least. It’s an improvement on the last thing hung in that office…

Okey doke, now that I’ve bloviated about the episode’s symbolism, it’s random and discursive comment time, but first here’s a picture of Pa Kettle Sterling peeling spuds:

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Mad Men Thread: The Big Cringe

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Mad Men has always specialized in uncomfortable, cringe inducing moments but Field Tripmay be the cherry on the sundae, or the bride and groom on the wedding cake. The latter analogy is the one that fits this episode best. Someone once told Don and Betty that they looked like the couple on a wedding cake. It was at that moment that I knew their marriage wasn’t going to last. The episode places Don and Betty on parallel tracks that end up converging in embarrassment. Don may learn something from his humiliation but Betty being Betty will learn nothing from her lesser mortification.

Time for my weekly windy, discursive, and pointedly pointless comments about this excellent episode but first another picture:

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Mad Men Thread: My Funny Valentine

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I know some people who think Mad Men is as serious, somber, and depressing as a Bergman film. It can be all of those things, but it can also be very, very funny, more like Fanny and Alexander than The Seventh Seal. A Day’s Work is one of the funniest episodes ever: while still making serious points about racial and gender politics in 1969 and at SCP. The episode is set on Valentine’s Day, 1969 and has some elements of classic farce with all the mistaken identity shtick going down from Shirley’s flowers to Sally finding Lou (It’s Not My Problem) Avery in Don’s office to Cooper’s consternation at seeing a black face at reception to all the white folks confusing Shirley with Dawn. Shirley is the one with the mini-fro and mini-skirt and Dawn is the prim one who dresses like a church lady, y’all.

Time for some odd (probably very odd) random and discursive comments:

P is for Petulant: Both Pete Campbell and Peggy Olsen pitch hissy fits. We’ve seen it all before from Pete, who is the Daffy Duck of SCP. Ted Chaough is now cast in the role of Bugs Bunny and is the one Pete considers despicable. Absent is more like it. I think Ted is depressed because LA weather means that he cannot wear sweaters half the year and that cramps his style. Pete’s account idea was kinda sorta shot down but unlike the Pegster, he has a new love interest.

When Peggy arrives and sees a dozen red roses on Shirley’s desk, she assumes that they’re hers. She is wrong, which she could have figured out if she’d listened to Stan’s jab: “Hard to believe your cat has the money.” Peggy proceeds to make a complete fool out of herself: initially assuming Ted had sent them, getting mad, and then being embarrassed when Shirley finally admits they came from her fiancée. The Pegster is so flustered that she banishes poor Shirley. I hope she will be able to find her Laverne…

It’s Not My Problem: We all thought Lou Avery had taken on Don’s job as creative director. It seems, however, that he’s SCP’s resident I don’t give a shitologist. Anything that Lou finds slightly irksome, burdensome or any other kind of some he deals with in the same way: Not my problem. Lou was even inordinately rude to young Sally Draper when she wandered into the office in search of her wayward parental unit. Lou’s response: not my problem. Instead, he blames Dawn. Hey, at least he doesn’t call her Shirley…

B is for Bigot: When Not My Problem Lou insists on Dawn’s banishment, Joan reassigns her to the reception desk. Dawn is obviously too sharp for that job but Bert Cooper wants her moved. Why? He’s SCP resident right wing bigot. I recall his opposition to the Civil Rights Act and Pete’s attempt to tap into the “colored market.” At least, Bert is consistent. Consistently wrong but consistent.

Jim Cutler Superstar: Even though he’s still listed as a guest star, Harry Hamlin has been rocking the Mad Men universe this season while Rich (Harry Crane) Summer has been MIA thus far. Cutler is suave, dapper, and surprisingly ethical. When Pete tries to pull an end run around Chevy when he signs up some SoCal car dealers, Cutler keeps his eye on the big picture and insists on full disclosure.

This arcane dispute may foreshadow a struggle with Roger over the account side of the agency. My money is on Jimbo, he’s even lined up our Joan as a potential ally, having noticed that her, uh, potential is being wasted shuffling secretaries and shit. Roger may be in love with Joan, but he’ll always think of her as an office manager with spectacular tatas.

When Don’s name comes up at the endless conference call meeting, Cutler is wittily dismissive, “Don who? Our collective ex-wife who still receives alimony?” It looks bleak for Don at SCP, y’all.

Don, Sally, and the roadside Patty Melt: Sally is back, looking and sounding more like Lauren Bacall than Betty Francis. Even without Weird Glenn at her side, Sally is the mistress of mischief. This time she uses a funeral as an excuse to escape boarding school for a day in the Village.

Unfortunately, she misplaces her purse, which leads her to Daddy’s office where she is, of course, not Lou’s problem. She lands at the Draper penthouse where she fences with dear old, secretive dad. Don learns from Dawn, not Shirley, about Sally’s close encounter with the master of I don’t give a shitology, and eventually levels with the kiddo. Sally is the only one who can tell Don to “just tell the truth” and hear it.

The episode concludes on a rare sweet note with Sally telling Don that she loves him. Don is the only one who gets any kind of loving on Valentine’s Day except for Pete and it will surely-not Shirley-backfire with him as it always does.

It’s a shame that this Clapton classic dates from 1970 and couldn’t be used in the episode but I can, and will, use it:

Mad Men Thread: Time Zones

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It’s January 1969 and Mad Men has gone full tilt bi-coastal. Don has become Megan’s sidekick instead of being a rock star. We saw this immediately after she picked him up at the airport and insisted on driving. Don Fucking Draper riding shotgun instead of behind the wheel? It’s a new world.

On to my customary random and discursive comments:

Mad Men Thread: Favors

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The Season-6 freight train gained momentum with another kick ass episode, Favors. It had everything I love about Mad Men from 60’s fashion to the generation gap writ large to a Moshe Dayanposter on a goyim’s wall. Nobody in the MM punditocracy has figured that one out, but another reference loops back to the Sharon Tate theory:Mark Lindsay lived in the murder house with Terry Melcherwho was the *real* target of Mason’s psychotic rage.

Favors was an apt title for this week’s installment. There was more “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” action than at a session of the Greek Parliament. Well, maybe not more but just as much. There’s a lot of ground to cover this week, so here we go:

Here’s to you, Mrs. Campbell: Pete’s mom is in love with her dashing Spanish nurse, Manolo. There was a great scene between her and the Pegster wherein Mrs. C confused her with Trudy and told her that Manolo was a goer. Nudge, nudge, say no more. Koo koo ka choo…

Peggy shared this insight with Pete who was disgusted. Pete was disgusted a lot in this episode except for the great moment he shared with Peggy while on the road with Ted (Sky Pilot) Chaough. Pete and Peggy were actually nice to one another as they ruminated about their shared past, Pete’s daft mother, and the obvious chemistry between the Pegster and the Tedster.

Bob and Pete sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g: Not realy, but Bob Benson almost declared his love for Pete in their “Manolo the degenerate must be fired” scene. I’m unsure if this will turn out to be Bob’s big secret but I didn’t see this coming. Pete clearly understood what Bob’s leg creep meant and used the word “disgusting” as he moved his own limb away. He was allegedly referring to Manolo, but Benson caught his drift. I’m not sure where they’re headed with this, but I somehow doubt that Pete and Bob are now gay married and living in condo on Fire Island, but ya never know.

Frenemies, a love story: The ongoing saga of Ted and Don’s unbromance was central to the episode. Ted’s fury with Don boiled over after the latter mentioned Rosen the younger’s draft status at a meeting with the Chevy guys. It’s business 101 that you never bring up a depressing subject with clients, but Don is so detached from the company that he forgot this basic rule. Don was hoping to get some help for Sylvia’s kid from the Motowners. It turned out that our boy Ted is not only as dovish as Don, but he’s got juice in the modern sense as opposed to Sunkist or Ocean Spray. Ted may just be able to save Mitchell’s cute little tush (according to Sally) from getting shot off by the Viet Cong. Speaking of Sally:

Sally and the keys: Sally and her little friend Julie are in Manhattan for “diplomacy school,” which Betty described as just another excuse for kids to make out. Even Betty is right occasionally. Sally and Julie think that Mitchell Rosen is a cutie pie and Sally’s sidekick slides a letter under the Rosen’s door to help Sally’s cause. In the immortal words of Rick Perry, “oops.”

In classic Don Fucking Draper fashion, he cannot leave well enough alone and keep his pants zipped while helping young Rosen avoid becoming cannon fodder. I’m convinced that Don’s motive was partially guilt over cuckolding Arnold, but he did what Don does and was in the process of “comforting” Sylvia when Sally walked in to retrieve her missive to Mitchell. Holy pandemonium, Batman.

For the first time since Betty learned that he was Dick Whitman, we see a baffled and dazed Don, totally bereft of his Draperesque suaveness. This is a bigger blow because Don’s relationship with Sally actually matters to him. Yeah, he’s a crappy father but he loves Sally and their previously rocky relationship is now on the rocks. Sally is too damn smart to buy Don’s lame and incoherent explanations.

The semi good news for Don is that Sally’ is unlikely to tell anyone what she saw since-like Pete with his mother-the mere thought of her daddy doing the nasty with anyone is, in a word, gross. The whole thing will make Sally even more jaded and cynical. I wonder if she’ll be calling Weird Glenn any time soon?

I know there’s a lot of stuff that I’m missing, but this episode had so much going on that I even forgot to lament Joan’s absence or discuss Peggy’s rat problem at any length. Suffice it to say that when Stan refused to make a rat call, Peggy did the sensible thing and got a cat. Hmm, I wonder if she called it Moshe? Probably not, unless it’s a one eyed tom cat…

Speaking of Motown, here are the Four Tops with an ode to Don Draper’s lack of impulse control:

Mad Men Thread: Hair and Death

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The season premiere was called The Doorway and there were a
shitload of them since Matthew Weiner and company are deep into symbolism in a
rather unsubtle way. The doors had a lot to do with death and very little to do
with hair, which may be just a harebrained idea on my part…

On to random and discursive comments that may be even randomer and discursive
than usual. Dang, that was repetitive:

Hair and Harry: It’s finally the late ’60’s at SCDP and the
men’s hair reflected that. It is no longer difficult to spot the
difference between the creative team and the beancounters. The former are as
shaggy as all get out: Harry has stopped using greasy kid stuff and has sideburns,
and Stan has a full-tilt Jerry Garcia beard. Even Roger and Pete have
sideburns. The sole hold-out is our Dante’s Inferno reading hero, Don Fucking Draper
who looks the same as he did in 1960, only more pensive.

Don’s Inferno: Don had a rough episode. He was surrounded
by reminders of his own mortality from the beginning. I had a
brief Tweety-like tingle in my leg when I realized that Ray Abruzzo, Little
Carmine from The Sopranos, was playing the doorman who died briefly and was revived
by Don’s new frenemy Doctor Rosen. The latter doesn’t know the enemy part: Don
is porking the kindly Jewish doctor’s Italianate spouse…

I really loved the scene in the Honolulu bar where Don looked his past, and
perhaps his future, in the eye when he met the callow drunken private. Don’s
zippy Zippo lighter somehow got traded for the kid’s, which he’s trying to send
back via his secretary. I expect she’ll hear that he’s been KIA-killed in
action, not the Korean carmaker- when she tries to send it to his unit. Another
tailspin for Don, y’all.

Don Draper in a Frock: I’m talking about the Pegster,
y’all. It was great to see her thriving and in control at the new agency
complete with ex-Sterling Cooper dude Bert Peterson on the staff. He was last
seen pitching a fit after Lane and Moneypenny sacked him.

Peggy actually looked and acted happy. At Teddy Chaough’s agency, she’s no
longer the girl who used to be a secretary, which is why this was a good move
for her. In her dealings with her underlings, she was pure Don Draper in a
dress: barking orders, dismissing their ideas and demanding coffee. I hope
Teddy will continue to be a good boss so that we can continue to see 2, count
’em 2, Madison Avenue ad agencies in a time of social and creative ferment. Ferment? Sounds
like beer…

The Continuing Adventures of Roger Sterling: His mother
dies but he seems more upset by the death of his shoeshine guy. I think it was
the mere fact of seeing the man’s life work reduced to a box of rags laces and
polish. Our Roger seems reduced to being a figurehead at the office, and the bank of
Dad to his family. Time for another acid trip?

Roger does, however, take Don’s hurling at the wake rather well. Don was
drunk (shocked? I thought not) and had a hard time stomaching all the mommie dearest
chat since Don/Dick never knew his own mother. Don is spiraling, I tell ya. We
like it when Don spirals…

Brunette Betty the Social Worker: The weakest part of the
episode. It was motivated by a futile attempt to make us hate Betty less. Never
gonna happen, my friend. Her “rape joke’ will see to that. I did, however
get a kick out of the snippy hippie who used the word grok. Betty was, after all, a
Stranger
in a Strange Land
in that squalid Village squat. I grok that, man. Pass the
pork belly and the fiddle, please. At least Betty didn’t have to perform a
Heinlein maneuver on any of the grotty and spotty squatters…<rim
shot>

I think Sally’s pal is off to be a Manson girl but our Sally seems to have
developed a new way of dealing with her mother: ignore her. Probably a good
move, kiddo.

You say Megan, I say Corinne: The lovely and brilliant Ms.
Calvert is a minor soap opera villainess now. She was even recognized by a bun
headed woman from Minnesota in Hawaii. Ja, you betcha. I hope her fan won’t mind when she goes all Richard
Widmark and pushes someone in a wheelchair down a stariwell. That I want to
see…

Don and Megan are still together but my hopes that the love of a nice, intelligent, and
very fetching woman would make him a better man look hopeless. Don keeps proving that he’s incapable of love. Cheating on Betty was one thing but Megan
is a kindly, floral bikini-wearing doll. Zou bissou, bissou. That’s right,
y’all, Don is still in a tailspin: