Monday, August 9, 2010

Mad Men's Very Happy New Year

Just a few thoughts about the ringing in of 1965, as I ponder the following year.

Spoilers, of course.

An interesting choice for the week between Christmas and New Year: a Joan/Pryce/Dick special, with little of anyone else.

First, our favorite redhead's storyline.
  • I really appreciate that Matthew Weiner is giving Joan's hubbie, Dr. Rapist, some self-understanding just before he goes off to Vietnam--Joan cuts her hand, and this is the one thing he can fix.  We still hate the guy for what he did, but he is not entirely evil nor is he entirely incompetent.  His bedside manner was surprisingly quite good.  Perhaps we need to like him a bit before he comes back from Vietnam wounded (I don't think he will get killed off, but that is possible). 
  • I love that Joan is much stronger at work, fighting back against Lane Pryce who picks a losing fight--a few days of vacation for Joan to get impregnated (that she had more than one abortion is still a bit surprising, given that one had to be done without a doctor).  
  • Even better--how she turns on a time from confronting Lane to firing the secretary who blew the florist instructions.  Of course, it may have been entirely out of the control of the secretary, but "taking responsibility" for one's mistakes is apparently high on Joanie's list of priorities.  Very interesting since so few people at the firm or in the show do anything like that.  
Second, Lane Pryce gets center-stage.
  • Poor guy!  Loves the US, his wife does not.  So, it looks like yet another marriage about to fall apart.  Who was it that noted that all of the marriages around the office were messed up?  Peggy?  
  • Anyhow, so we get to see Lane much more at length than ever before.  He notes that despite the fragility of the firm's account balances, it was a magnificent year.  Smashing! 
  • He ends up getting drunk with Don and spends a night on the town with Don!  The highlight, of course, was when he took the steak and put on in front of his belt and did a nice imitation of Lee Garner Jr of Lucky Strikes. Although he was also heaps of fun during the movie (not Godzilla but something like it, I think).
  • He ends his night with some partaking of a lady of evening offered by Don after both are roasted at the comedy show.  But wakes up in his old form of perfectly coifed.  
Third, it is more of a Dick Whitman story than a Don Draper one as Don goes to California to see the original Mrs. Draper, a sweet, sweet pot-smoking women unknowingly on death's door.
  • Of course, the first thing to think is "yuck"!  Don/Dick will hit anyone he is attracted to, even a pseudo/quasi-niece.  We saw that coming from a mile away, but hoped that Dick would have a bit more restraint than Don.  Nope, not when it comes to pretty young ladies. Perhaps it was her background as a U of California political science student?
  • Other than that, it was nice to see Dick/Don so fully relaxed, as he could be himself with a person who truly knew who he was.  Dick Whitman can be a pretty nice guy (when there are not cute girls to inappropriately chase).  
  • Too bad he had to return back to the mode of liar when the quasi-niece uses the most successful Don brushoff move yet--that Anna Draper is dying and she does not know it. So, it is sad to see Dick having to lie to the one person who knows him and loves him for/despite who he is.  Jon Hamm did a nice job of portraying the anguish--of both losing a great person and losing the one person who knows him.  
  • Which gets to the question du jour: should Dick have told Anna about her condition?  Was he a coward for not doing so?  What would you do in that place?  I don't know, as she probably has a few clues and you could discern some of that perhaps in her behavior.  But is it his role to do so?  As the ex-husband?  As the guy who visits every couple of years?  I have no discretion, so I probably would have blabbed.  But I am not sure that would have been the right move.  Typical of Matthew Weiner to give us something that we can debate around and around.  
One of the consistent things about Mad Men is that it is not consistent.  This episode had a very different flow and a very different set of characters than the usual episode: no Roger, no Pete, no Pete's wife (everyone wants more Alison Brie), no Betty (probably not too many people upset at that), etc.  

Your thoughts?

No comments: