Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mad Men Medley

Call me a liar and I won't disagree. I had grand plans to do in-depth write-ups of each episode of Mad Men this season, but through two episodes I just haven't had the time. I've watched both, but to do anything more than summaries would have taken too much, and I'm only going to get busier. So, as the season goes along I may actually delve into it, but for now I think I'll just try to put up a post every week where myself and the other couple people watching can talk about it. Some highlights from the first two weeks: 

Don and Betty appear to be much happier and, dare I say, more equal in their marriage now, with Betty being very pregnant, but Don already cheated when out of town in the first episode. He seemed more reluctant than usual, almost letting the woman seduce him instead of the other way around, but he still did it. On the more positive side, Don volunteered their home to help take care of her senile father when Betty and her brother couldn't decide what to do.

At Sterling Cooper the British firm Putnam, Powell & Lowe is firmly entrenched, with Financial Director Lane Pryce more or less acting as the boss. One third of the company has been laid off, including the head of accounts, so Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove have both been given the job, leading to Pete being jealous and acting like a little kid instead of appreciating the promotion. Joan Holloway has married her evil, rapist fiancee, and keeps talking about how she's leaving when he gets his residency. Peggy Olson is even more of an equal than she has been in the past, and seems to be learning from Don on other fronts as well: she went out, picked up some guy, went back to his place, and then left him after without even getting his number.

Don is still upset with Roger Sterling for taking a conversation they had as advice to leave his wife, and poor closeted Salvatore Romano finally had his first experience with a man, even though it was cut short, while on the same trip that Don cheated on Betty during. Don saw him with the guy, but after Sal sat in fear of his reaction, Don, no slouch when it comes to secrets, told him to limit his exposure but didn't judge, cleverly hiding his advice in a discussion of an ad campaign.

So far I'm enjoying it as much as ever, and I love the addition of Jared Harris as Pryce, but something feels different about this season. I'm not sure if it's the pace, the writing, the production--whatever it is, I notice it and it takes me out of the show from time to time. Anyone have any theories what it is, or is it just me? How is everyone else liking it so far?


Dan said...

This last episode was definitely off. I couldn't tell if they had more content than time but breaks to commercial were jarring every time. I was really tired when I watched it and I'm sure that affected me (I didn't realize that Paul was insulting the MSG people until they abruptly ended the meeting and walked out) but it was one of the least satisfying episodes I'd seen. They also had such a broad, shallow touch on the story lines in the episode. Hopefully that was just to set the stage for upcoming episodes.

I don't know where Draper is headed in his attempt to be a better family man. Like you said, he didn't seem to particularly relish his fling with the stewardess and I was surprised he even followed through on it based on his "I've been to all kinds of new places but I always end up someplace I've been before" line. His reaction to the teacher at the May Day celebration was also ambiguous where in the past it seems like he would have been more than happy to follow up on his interest.

It'll be interesting to see how they continue to juxtapose Pete and Peggy as the proteges to Don. Campbell has the white guy, dissatisified with his marriage link and he obviously courts Don's approval. Peggy is perhaps more Draperesque in the fact that she's so alone in the world.

Hatfield said...

I was also confused by Paul's rant, not because I didn't realize he was attacking them, but because it seemed like such a strange, unprofessional move. And then Don wasn't even mad? I guess he agrees...

The thing with the teacher was interesting because she fits his usual mistress description, but he just stared and ran his fingers through the grass. And then in the next scene at work he gave Peggy a long, hard look that confused me. Was he thinking about her in that way, or just recognizing the difference between her and most other women, her Draperesque qualities? Or both?