At long last, “Mad Men” is back, and Sunday’s premiere was full of intriguing nuggets as to what lies in store for the rest of the season. Here are a few random thoughts and observations . . .
— Wow, Don Draper likes to get slapped around by hookers. Didn’t see that one coming. Could that be his self-loathing coming out? He wants to be punished for being a phony? Or is he just so numbed to life that he wants to feel something? Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of this subject.
— And speaking of that, since when does Don need a prostitute for, ah, “companionship”? How the mighty have fallen. Between the collapse of the old Sterling Cooper, the immense pressure on him at the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and his divorce, Don seems to have lost his mojo. His confidence has been replaced by anger toward pretty much everyone.
— The girl Don went out with, Bethany, resembles Betty to a frightening degree: looks, shallowness and even her occupation (she’s an opera extra who basically stands around in the background and looks pretty).
— It was interesting to see Don watch his Glo-Coast commercial at home. It almost seemed like he couldn’t believe he made something so great. Maybe that reflects his lost confidence.
— The company’s new offices were sleek, stylish and very retro cool. But the high office walls and narrow hallway made it really claustrophobic. Can’t imagine that has any symbolic meaning (cough cough cough).
— Interesting how Roger wants to make clients believe there’s a second floor, to make the company look more impressive. Compare that to Don’s ad line for the not-bikini: “So well-built, we can’t show you the second floor.” There’s some kind of parallel there. Like, SCDP is so talented and efficient that they don’t need six floors of useless personnel, like their rivals. Quality over quantity.
— Roger is still master of one-liners. Whether funny or appalling, pretty much every line that came out of his mouth had me laughing.
— Peggy upgraded more than her hairdo. She’s got a lot more self-confidence and spunk, and seems comfortable supervising at least one underling. Funny how scared she was of Don’s reaction to her and Pete’s publicity stunt, though it turned out to be well-founded. (Actually, the whole stunt was pretty funny, especially the women going after each other in the coffee shop.) Nice moment when she told Don that everyone there only wanted his approval.
— OK, so the John and Marsha thing: It’s a reference to a 1951 comedy sketch by Stan Freberg, “the father of funny advertising.” He was spoofing the cheesiness of soap operas. (Thanks, Google!) Here it is:
If you want a modern equivilent, try the “Dude? Dude!” scene in “Baseketball.”
— OK, I’m digressing, back to “Mad Men.”
— So who’s unhappier in their new marriage: Betty or Henry? Betty’s finding out (or at least we are, she’s not big on introspection) that it wasn’t just Don that was making her miserable. She has some deeper issues. Henry, meanwhile, is uncomfortable living in Don’s house, and as much as he defends Betty to his overbearing mother, I think he’s starting to realize she isn’t entirely wrong. I loved Don’s dismissive line: “Believe me, everybody thinks this is temporary.” Henry and Betty’s tryst in the car seemed an attempt to recapture the spark that they originally felt – and which took place in a car.
— And speaking of unhappy, there’s Sally. Something tells me she’s going to be a handful this season. I can see Betty getting fed up and sending her to live with Don. If Sally doesn’t burn down the house first.
— Included in Betty’s Mother of the Year application: Stuffing Sally’s mouth with sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner. I loved how Sally’s face contorted, then she spit it out. (Kinda like me eating zucchini as a kid.) Then Betty dragged her away by the ear.
— I think Don’s blowup at the Jantzen clients was, in a nutshell, symbolic of the changing times. He wants to pull the company out of the conservative and staid thinking of the day, and do something truly creative and revolutionary. The times, they are a-changin.
— Don’s attempt at modesty was taken as arrogance by the one-legged reporter from Advertising Age. (And wow, Roger’s “They can’t even afford to send a whole reporter” was a jaw-dropper.) So at the end, with the Wall Street Journal, he put on a self-promoting act to show himself (and the company) in a more exciting, vibrant light. Not unlike what Peggy and Pete did with the ham stunt. Hmmmm.
So what’d you think? What was your favorite scene? Any predictions for the season?