Follow us:

Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira:

July 26, 2010 at 11:10 AM

Back in town, just in time for “Mad Men”

So, there are a LOT of mosquitoes at Lake Wenatchee, and not quite enough places to buy a Diet Coke. And my cell phone, which like me seems highly suspicious of The Great Outdoors, stubbornly refused to work even though everybody else’s did; perhaps it was just experiencing some fresh-air anxiety. But I had a lovely time anyway. Hope you all had a good week. Everybody seen “Inception” by now? One of these days we’ll have to talk about the ending, but not yet.
Anyway, it’s time for the return of “Mad Men” Mondays, and not a moment too soon. (Note that this will be a regular Monday feature, and that I’m assuming everyone reading this has either seen the show, or doesn’t care about spoilers. Be forewarned . . .) How much fun was it, last night, to see that mod “SCDP” on the wall at the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce headquarters (in, we’re told, the Time/Life building)? It’s a fresh start for the company, and for the show, and last night’s episode felt nicely airy and uncluttered, like it’s taking a breath before plunging back in. I of course wanted more Joan (but hey, she’s got her own office now!), but her plotlines will surely return in time. Some questions were answered: It’s a little less than a year since the events that closed Season 3, and Roger is still married to Jane (on borrowed time, no doubt); Betty did indeed marry Henry (and is still living in the Draper house, which seems to me a tad out of character for Henry); Harry has gotten a bit of a makeover, as befits a hip TV department head; Sally is still sad; and Don is paying a prostitute to slap his face (among other things). Um, wait, what was that last item? Still pondering that one.
“Who is Don Draper?” was the question that opened the episode, and it’s the question that’s driven “Mad Men” from the beginning — this enigmatic ad man with a secret past carefully shields the stories he tells. So it was a kick, in this episode, to see him realize that he needs to change — that, as Peggy reminds him, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is basically just Draper. He’s the creative charge behind it; he’s the reason why they’re there; and he’s the one who needs to be out in front — he needs to play the game. Don broke out of Sterling Cooper because he wanted to play by his own rules — he wanted, as we saw last night, to tell clients who want the same old conventional ads to get the hell out of his office. (He’s right — that Jantzen ad he showed them would have worked like gangbusters.) But to do that, he needs to attract a certain kind of client — the kind who’ll be drawn to the story Don was telling the Wall Street Journal writer as the episode closed. Schmoozing a reporter is something the old Don would never have done – he would have been above it — but the new Don is trying on this changed role for size, like the snazzy new striped ties he’s wearing.
And, can we pause for a second to reflect on what a fine actor Jon Hamm is? He’s made the hall of mirrors that is Don into a man that we believe at every second, whether he’s making a suave move on a date (arranged by Roger and Jane!) or tenderly tucking his kids in for the night. (Did you hear how he created a world of restrained yet rock-solid paternal love with the simple line, “Good night, both of you” ?)
Elsewhere, nice to see that Peggy is clearly more relaxed at work than she’s ever been — as befits a woman still in her early 20s, she’s still finding her way, but is no longer intimidated by Don and the boys. (Loved the “fiance” piping up in Don’s hallway, holding the Thanksgiving side dish. Will he be a recurring character?) Pete didn’t have too much to do this episode (where was Trudy?), but seems to be thriving; likewise Harry, who needs to learn about sunscreen. There’s a palpable energy in the smallish, conference-room-table-less quarters of SCDP, even as they fret about billings and clients. What will Don’s next great idea be? When will Joan and Roger fall back into each other’s arms? Betty’s story is less interesting — except for the fact that she’s suddenly dressing like Pat Nixon, as befits a politician’s wife — and I wonder how long her neglectful-mother plotline can be sustained. We’ll see.
Did you like last night’s episode? Are you happy to see the gang again? Any disappointments? Favorite lines?
January Jones as the ever-evolving Betty Draper, dressed in perfect politician’s-wife pastels, in “Mad Men”. (Photo courtesy AMC.)



No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►