Tag Archives: Betty and Don

Swimming with Sharks – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Summer Man”

Anyone out there who thinks that the writers of Mad Men don’t care about their fans, clearly hasn’t watched the show’s last two episodes.  Last week, Matt Weiner & Co., showed their love, by offering up one of the best-written, most hilarious, and most poignant hours on television of all time.  This week, that same group of writers chose, as a framing device for their episode, the image of a half-naked Jon Hamm, swimming laps in a crystal clear pool.

It just doesn’t get much better than that, Folks! 

Tonight’s installment of Mad Men was, more or less, split into three distinct storylines: (1) Don Draper’s first brave steps in the Wonderful World of Relative Sobriety, and his attempts to “tame” the three blondes in his life;

(2) Betty’s temper tantrum, as a result of seeing Don out with another woman, who is basically her doppelganger (minus a few years);

(3) and Joan’s struggles with her her husband leaving for Vietnam, and with office bullying.

So, what are we waiting for?  Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Often-Unappreciated Art of Navel Gazing

Dear Diary,

Sometimes, I find it a curse to be so damn attractive.  For example, this morning I was two whole hours late for work — all because  I couldn’t stop staring at myself in the bathroom mirror.  And all those WOMEN!  And all that SEX!  A guy can only have so much sex!  You know, I’m not in my twenties anymore.  I often have nightmares that, one day, the darn thing will just shrivel up and fall off . . .

“When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him,” Don writes in the opening moments of the episode.

As he ruminates on the meaning of life, we are treated to alternating shots of our Sexy Scribe: alone in his apartment; swimming laps at the local pool (yay!); and taking a few moments to bask in the summer sun, on his way to work.

Given the vast amount of guffaws and snorts he and Peggy had at Roger’s expense last week, I would hate to think Don is hypocritcally self-indulgent enough to draft his own memoir.  (Although, admittedly, THAT would probably be a pretty juicy read.) 

No.  I actually think Don’s daily journal writings serve much the same purpose as his daily visits to the pool.  They are meant to re-instill in his life a certain amount of discipline, and to help him organize his recently liquor-clouded thoughts. 

 “They say, as soon as you have to cut down on your drinking, you have a drinking problem,” Don posits, via voiceover.

Admitting THAT to himself, must have been a real punch in the face . . .

Through Don’s narrative, we not only learn how flowery his writing can be, when he’s not pitching advertisements, we also learn that he never graduated high school.  While it is obvious that this is a source of embarrassment for Don, and yet another skeleton in his closet, upon learning this, I couldn’t help but once again be impressed by how far Don came in life, despite such vastly humble beginnings.  “Drinking Problem” or not, you can’t take that away from him.

But, alas, it is tough to be sober in an office full of drunks  — particularly when you have an enabling secretary, like Miss. Blankenship.

Since she has started working as Don’s secretary, regularly refreshing the Executive’s booze supply, is probably the ONLY task she HASN’T screwed up . . . unfortunately.

“I’m set!”  Don growls, as Miss Blankenship offers him what looks like the entire top shelf of the local sports bar, thereby threatening to erase ALL the progress Don exhibited during the aforementioned earlier scenes.

“You are . . . and then you’re NOT,” retorts Dame Edna, fresh off a cataract surgery, which, if it is at all possible, seems to have left her even blinder than before, despite her claims to the contrary.

“Bring that stuff back to the store, and get me some cigarettes,” demands Don.

Ahhh, spoken like a true AA member . . .

And yet, unlike the members of that organization, Don has NOT quick drinking cold turkey.  To do so at a place like SCDP would, at best raise eyebrows, and, at worst, isolate Don from his colleagues.  (Speaking of Outcasted Sober Dudes, where has Freddy Rumsen been lately?)

Singing karaoke at the local cabaret, perhaps?

Don’s daily battles against the All-Mighty Bottle were perhaps best exhibited in a scene where he, Peggy, Ken and Stan were ironing out a new pitch idea for Mountain Dew.  The world literally went silent for Don, as he stared at Peggy’s pouty lips.  In all my naivety, I initially wondered whether the Dapper Don had recently fallen for our Peppy Peggy, as a result of their intense bonding session last week . . .

 . . . but then, when he started eying Ken’s and Stan’s lips too (as well as the ice clinking against the inner rims of their scotch glasses), I knew I had been mistaken.

Meanwhile, Don learns that Baby Gene (Toddler Gene?)’s Second Birthday Party is the upcoming Sunday, and Papa D is not invited.  In fact, he has been explicitly dis-invited,  both by Betty . . .

My people are Nordic.

 and Betty’s new husband, the increasingly dour, Henry Francis.

My people are A**holes.

To Don’s credit, rather than stewing over this, he spends his evenings dating people who look suspiciously like Betty . . .

“Every time I go out with you, it feels like we are on a first date.”

“Which one are you again?”

To help refresh Don’s memory as to who she is, Bethany does something to Don in the backseat of the cab that I can’t really tell you about here.  This is a Family Blog, after all.  I CAN show you, however.

Just substitute the bottle for an overused part of Don’s anatomy . . .

“To be continued,” coos Bethany lasciviously, as she crawls over Don to get out of the cab.  (Good lord!  I hope she didn’t leave any “unfinished business” behind!)

Sexually satisfied, but clearly unimpressed, Don writes in his diary, “I bet she spent all night coming up with that line.”

Then, just to show he’s a “true gentleman” with “no ill intentions” he finishes off the entry with a wishful thinking passage about Bethany’s bunkmates at the Barbizon hotel “touching themselves to sleep.”

Yeah . . . you stay classy, Don Draper!

Also touching herself to sleep, while dreaming of Don is THIS LADY . . .

. . . who I’ve referred to only as “Marketing Research Lady” since this season began; because, honestly, she never seemed all that important.  However, now that she has officially become Don’s Next Conquest, the character will hereinafter be referred to by her REAL name, Faye.  Don and Faye are working on something together in the office (But I don’t know what, because I’m still not 100% clear as to what exactly it is this woman DOES), when he suggests they relocate to a restaurant somewhere nearby.

Having struck out quite a few times with Faye in the past, Don knew he had the Green Light this time, because he overheard Faye breaking up with her boyfriend because . .  . she doesn’t cook.

(Hey Don!  I don’t cook either.  Would you like to go out with ME? :))

“Just so we’re clear here.  You are asking me out to dinner?”  Faye inquires, in a thick New Jersey Mob Princess accent that would make Carmela Soprano proud.

“Oh Donny!  This one’s a REAL KEEP-AH!”

Don admits that, yes, he is asking her out on a date.   So, Faye suggests something a bit more formal, and non-work related.  That night, the pair go out someplace fancy.  And I’ve gotta say, if Don’s and Bethany’s dates always seem like first, Don’s and Faye’s first date seemed much more like a THIRD, if you know what I mean. 😉  The two engaged in genuinely intelligent conversation, both revealing bits of their personal lives to one another.  Don even discussed his guilt over not being able to attend Baby Gene’s birthday.

In the taxi on the way home,  like Bethany, Faye also started getting VERY friendly with our Don Juan Draper.

Well . .  . maybe not THAT friendly.

Unlike Bethany, however, Faye doesn’t seem to be the “To Be Continued” type.  Instead, she immediately asks Don where his apartment is . . .

And he DENIES HER!

Remember, this is a man who, last week, probably wouldn’t have denied sex to a Friendly Armadillo . . .

Don tells Faye that he’s going to just walk her to her door.  “Because that’s all I can do right now.  I’m not ready to say Good Night, yet.”

Awwww!  Look who’s being a Real Gentleman for a change!  YOU GO DON!

These actually belong to Faye . . .

In yet another mature moment for the episode, Don cathartically tosses away the items he had in storage in Betty’s garage . . .

 . . . and attends Baby Gene’s Birthday Party!

That’s a WHOLE LOTTA self improvement, for a guy who, just last week, was puking on himself, and losing fist fights to Duck Phillips!

Baby Betty Needs a Bottle

“But Dad HENRRRRYYYYY!  You said we could go to the CANDY STORE after dinner.  I WANT CANNNNNNDDDDY!”

The Honeymoon Period is SO over, at the Francis / Draper residence!  This fact becomes more than evident, when Henry takes Betty to a business dinner with an important political consultant, and the group has a run-in with Don and Bethany . . .

AWKWARD!

Betty basically flips out.  She’s uncommonly icy (even for HER) to Henry’s important dinner guest, drinks gimlets like a fish throughout the meal, and then rushes off to hide in a bathroom stall, until the meal is over.  In the car on the way home, Henry spanks Betty and sends her to Time Out accuses her of being a child, a wino, and a drunk, who is not over her first marriage.  (Awww, how sweet!) 

The next morning, a very hungover and bleary-eyed Betty apologizes profusely for her bad behavior.  Henry accepts the gesture, but still seems kind of pissed.

And yet, Daddy Hubby looks on with pride, as Betty gallantly hands Baby Gene over to Don at the tot’s birthday party, a moderately believable plastic smile pasted on her face the whole time.  When Henry asks her if she is OK with Don’s presence, she replies in the affirmative.  “We have EVERYTHING!”

But do they, REALLY?

The VERY Brief Rise and Fall of Joey Baird

It looks like we’ll have to wait until they put you on another TV show, before I get to see you shirtless again.  Dammit,  Matt Long!  Why did your character have to be such a DOUCHE!

*Winks and waves at Shirtless Joey*  “CALL ME!”

*Squeals with joy at the news that SCDP now has a vacancy in its Art Department*

When the episode opens, Ken, Stan, Joey, and this random no-named new guy, who seems to have magically appeared during this episode, and yet everybody on the show acts like he’s been there the whole time . . .

“Who the heck are you?”

 . . . are loudly bucking the office vending machine, which somehow ate Joey’s watch.  “I feel like I’m Margaret Mead,” jokes Peggy, as she observes the male species in its natural habitat, hunting for a Rolex.

Then Joan, who I normally adore, but, in this episode, at least, was somewhat of a, to use her own words, “humorless b*tch” (not that she didn’t deserve to be, under the circumstances), storms outside to yell at the boys to keep it down.

“Yes, MOM!”  Joey yells out after her.

Enraged at the part-timer’s sheer disrespect, Joan calls Joey into her office to let him know that she “has a problem with him now.”

“What do you do all day, besides walking aroun this office, like you’re trying to get raped?”  Joey inquires.

Oh, he did NOT just say that!  WHO says stuff like that?  What were you, raised in a BARN?

When Don asks Joan to switch Joey over to full time so that he can put in some extra hours on an important account, Joan bristles at the thought of seeing that goat chew cud around the office Monday through Friday.  So, she stretches the truth a little bit.  “I’m not sure he’s the right fit.  I’ve been hearing complaints.”

“From who?”  Peggy inquires, having at least started the season being fairly tight with Joey Goat.  (Remember the whole John / Marsha bit, from Episode 1?)

“OK.  Let’s hear one dirty story,” suggests Don, gamely.

But Joan refuses to reveal a “dirty story” about Joey Goat, and Peggy becomes suspicious.  Later, she pulls Joey away from a Casting Couch session with Harry . . .

“Oh Joey!  You’re so handsome.  Do exactly as I say, and I can make you the next Jed Clampett . . . *points to autographed picture on his desk*

“He can play my pet goat!”

 . . . and warns him to lay off Joan, who clearly has it in for him now. 

“Listen, every office has a Joan.  My MOTHER was a Joan.  She even even wore a pen around her neck, so everyone would stare at her tits,” Joey retorts

(WOAHHH, Nelly!  Oedipal Complex much, kiddo?  The only time you should be staring so intently at your mother’s rack is when your breast-feeding.  After that, it’s just icky!)

But office Bully Goats are the least of Joan’s problems.  At home, she is faced with the lingering threat of her husband dying in the Vietnam war.  In a feeble attempt to be helpful, Dr. Greg suggests that Joan won’t even miss him while he’s gone, because she will be so busy hanging out with “all her friends at work.”

(No wonder you were such a bad surgeon, Dr. Greg.  Your timing SUCKS!)

Joan, of course, bawls at this comment, thus closing off any chance Dr. Greg ever had of getting laid that night.

Lots of these going around tonight . . .

The next day, Joey Goat and his Goat Posse . . .

. . . are targeting Joan once again.  But this time, they use artwork . . .

. . . specifically, “artwork” which suggests that Joan is doing THIS  . . .

 . . . to Lane . . .

“Oh my!  Who knew my Beefsteak Belt Buckle would be put to use again so soon!”

Peggy is in Joan’s office, when the picture is discovered.  So, she is understandably horrified, on Joan’s behalf.

But Joan just calmly walks outside and tells the artists, more or less, that she doesn’t like them, and hopes they all die in Vietnam.

“So . . . in other words . . . you DON’T wanna sleep with us?”

Peggy, in a rare attempt at sisterly solidarity, approaches Don about Joey’s bad behavior toward Joan.  While Don agrees the cartoon is reprehensible, he encourages Peggy to handle the matter on her own, so as to gain the respect of her peers.  Peggy pulls Joey Goat aside and insists that he apologize to Joan.  “That’s what I hate about working with women.  They have no sense of humor,” remarks the Tool.

Unable to reason with the bastard, Peggy fires his ass.  Off walks Joey Goat into the sunset, teeny tiny tail between his legs.  “Party’s over, boys,” he brays to his entourage, fielding one last invite for “drinks etc.” from Harry, before shutting the door on SCDP for good.

“That was Baaaaaaaaaaad!”

In the elevator on the way out of work, Peggy encounters Joans, and eagerly gives her the good news, about how she single-handedly sent Joey Goat to the Glue Factory.

But Joan is unimpressed.

“I defended you,” Peggy pouts.

Joan claims she was handling the matter in her own way, by meeting with the client at issue, and quietly having Joey taken off the account.  “It’s the same result,” Peggy mumbles. 

“All you’ve done is prove to them that I’m a meaningless secretary, and you are just another humorless bitch.  Have a nice weekend, Peggy.”

That couldn’t have felt good . . .

While Joan’s prophecy is quite possibly true, her nastiness to the woman who could have one day become the lonely office manager’s ONE female friend in the office seemed unnecessarily harsh.  It couldn’t have been easy for Peggy, who has always wanted desperately to be “one of the boys” to fire a former friend, and risk being ostracized by her co-workers, as a result. 

This elevator exchange further delineates the different paths these two women chose, in creating their futures: Joan representing the more traditional early 1960’s woman, both cunning and overtly feminine; and Peggy representing the New Feminist, independent and career-oriented.

So, what did you think of “The Summer Man?”  Do you believe Don will stick to his strict regimen of swimming, writing and drinking in moderation?  Is Faye a Keep-ah?  How long do you give Betty before she’s embroiled in a second divorce?  Can Joan and Peggy ever truly become friends, despite their differences?  Would you ever watch a television show produced by Harry Crane and starring Joey Goat? 

[www.juliekushner.com]

 

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A Lesson in Etiquette from the Cast of Mad Men and the Mister Men Series – A Recap of Mad Men’s “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”

“A lesson in whhaaaat?  From the cast of whoooooo?  DON, this damn phone don’t work and neither do I!”

Whether we are still kids, or just kids at heart, there are times in all of our lives, when we could stand to be reminded of the importance of minding our proverbial “Ps and Qs.”  And in this most recent Mad Men episode, EVERYONE fell a bit short on the Etiquette Scale. 

Let’s revisit, shall we?

Lesson One:  When you have nothing nice to say, it’s best to say nothing at all . . .

In the opening moments of the episode, Don receives a phone call from the New York Times.  Apparently, one of Don’s competitors at another advertising company(Cutler, Gleason, and Chauough), has been talking smack about him. 

(Riiiiiight! Because THAT’S what top New York Times reporters cover on the front page of their paper, Word Wars between anonymous Ad men.) 

The reporter wonders whether Don has a response to his competitors’  snide remarks.  If Don was POLITE, he would simply say, “No Comment.”  However, because Don is . . .

 . . . he, instead replies, “Never heard of him.” 

Lesson 2 – Be flexible.  There is no shame in compromising to get the job done.

“Compromise is for pussies!”

Later, at a meeting of the SCDP partners, Pete mentions that he has scored a meeting with Honda, where SCDP will have the opportunity to pitch the well established Japanese corporation a campaign for their motorcycle account.

Rumor has it that Honda is dissatisfied with their current representation by Massive Ad Agency, Grey.  The “catch” is that each competing agency will get just $3,000 to create a mock pitch for Honda.  Most of the partners are THRILLED . . .

. . . but Roger is NOT!

A World War II vet, who lost a lot of friends to the Japanese war effort, Roger REFUSES to represent a Japanese company, no matter how lucrative such representation could potentially BE for SCDP.  This is because Roger is . . .

“Why don’t we just bring Doctor Lyle Evans in here?”  Roger quips.

“Huh?”

*         *         *           *

Please forgive me this slight departure from your regularly scheduled recap, while I wax poetic on Roger’s so-called “historical reference.”

Who the heck is Doctor Lyle Evans?  If you didn’t catch the reference, fear not, because the rest of the staff of SCDP didn’t either.  Seeing as I was still about two decades away from being born, back in 1965, I just shrugged the name off, assuming it referred to some villainous doc, who worked for the enemy back in World War II.  (I was never exactly what you would call a “History Buff,” anyway . . .

But, apparently, there was much more to it than that.  You see, the interesting thing about Dr. Lyle Evans, is that he DOES NOT EXIST! 

OK.  There’s probably SOMEONE out there named Dr. Lyle Evans, but he’s certainly not a historical figure.  Evidently, Matt Weiner dropped the name into the script to have a little fun with those crazy Mad Men fans who like to look up every single historical reference they hear on the show.  It WORKED!  Google and Twitter trends for the mysterious “Dr. Lyle Evans” went through the ROOF, Sunday night!

Tsk, tsk, Matt Weiner!

I hearby dub you . . .

We now return to our regularly scheduled recap . . .

*      *      *      *

Lesson 3 – Before making drastic changes to your appearance, always consult with your elders . . .

Felicity’s Keri Russell learned THIS lesson the hard way . . . So did Sally Draper.

OK.  I REALLY don’t like this Nurse Phoebe chick!  I didn’t like her when she was Reed on Grey’s Anatomy . . .

 . . . and I DON’T like her now!  Apparently, neither does Sally Draper.  Because when Nurse Phoebe was babysitting the little Drapers, over at Don’s house, while Don was out on a date, Sally did something to ensure that Phoebe would NEVER be invited back into Don’s apartment again!  She did THIS . . .

She then asked Phoebe whether she and Don were doing The Nasty together.   Well, if they WERE, they won’t be NOW! 

When Don got back from his Dull Ass Date with Boring Bethany at Benihana’s . . .

 . . . (where he learned that his advertising rivals from Cutler would be competing with SCDP for the Honda account), he fired Nurse Phoebe on the spot!

Lesson 4 – Use your words, not your fists, B*tch (especially on YOUR KIDS)!!!!

The SLAP heard round the world . . .

While Don blamed Nurse Phoebe for the whole “Sally Hair Fiasco,” Betty blamed EVERYBODY BUT HERSELF!  Poor, poor, Betty!  Apparently, the whole world is conspiring to make your life miserable.  Your daughter’s rebellious actions have nothing to do with her inner turmoil over her grandfather’s death or her parents’ divorce, they are all about YOU.  Everything is about YOU!  YOU, YOU, YOU!

“Me?  Ahhh, my favorite subject.”

Betty slaps Poor Troubled Sally so hard, it looks for a moment like her teeth might fall right out of her mouth!  And although Hen-pecked Henry and Disaffected Don look appalled by her behavior, both do astonishingly little to help the crying ten-year old, whose just been physically abused.  “Betty,” Henry whispers half-heartedly.

“Well, gosh, I’d love to help ya, Sally.  But I don’t wanna get beat up by a girl . . . AGAIN!”

Sally dashes to her room, and Don scampers out the door like a coward.  Then, Betty, clearly the wronged one, whines to Henry about how much she wants to MURDER Don!

WOAH!  Take it easy there . . .

Lesson 5 – Be respectful of that which makes others “different”

“I really don’t understand why people think I’m racist.  Can’t a guy wear a mud mask without ridicule?  I hear helps clean the pores!”

The time has come for the men of SCDP to hold their meeting with the good folks at Honda.  Preparations have been made.  “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” has been not read.  White flowers (which signify death in Japanese culture) have been hidden.  Gifts have been purchased, including expensive bottles of booze.  Old Fogey Roger has been sent off on a loooonnng lunch, and told precisely nada about what is set to occur.

Things go pretty well . . . at first.  Pleasantries are exchanged and translated.  Joan’s assets are admired.  “How does she not fall over?”  One of the business men inquires “cutely” in Japanese.

“Actually, sir, I fall over all the time.  That’s why I always try to have Japanese business men in front of me, to break my fall.”

But then Roger comes, and screws everything up.

Pissed that he’s been lied to, and that his opinion has been blatantly ignored by his colleagues, an uncharacteristically belligerant Roger starts hurling insults at the Japanese businessmen, left and right.  “They won’t know it’s over until we drop a bomb on them . . . twice,” jokes Roger, insensitively.

“We don’t want your JAP CRAP!”  He says later. 

Now, Roger, there’s no need to be . . .

After the meeting ends abruptly, Roger whines some more about the Japanese and World War II.  Don berates Roger for acting unprofessionally, and killing the Honda account, all for something that happened twenty years prior.  Pete takes the lecture session one step further, accusing Roger of being . . .

 . . . and sabotaging Pete’s ability to gain accounts, so that Roger can maintain financial supremacy over the company.  Roger tries to deck Pete, but Don intervenes. 

 Sure, Don!  NOW YOU INTERVENE!  What about when the recipient of the fist was your own DAUGHTER?   You weren’t so tough then, were you?

Lesson 6 – Keep your hands to yourself, but not IN yourself . . . At least, not when others might see you do it.

For actress Kiernan Shipka’s sake, I’m hoping she’s too young an actress to think to ask what her “motivation” is for scenes like this one.  I’m also hoping that when she’s a teenager, Kiernan’s friends never dig out DVDs of this episode for blackmail purposes . . .

Speaking of Miss Sally Draper, she’s up late at a sleepover party, watching what looks to be the LEAST sexy television show on the planet . . .

I don’t know, Sally.  These guys just don’t do it for me . . .

 . . . when she starts digging for gold underneath her nightgown. 

She doesn’t find any.

(OK.  I’m no Betty prude.  I get that kids Sally’s age experiment with their bodies.  I also get that it’s normal and natural for them to do that . . . hopefully, IN PRIVATE.  But I REALLY didn’t need to watch this, and would have preferred the producers opted not to show it.  It made me feel uncomfortable, and dirty, in a way that soap can’t wash . . .)

Apparently, Sally’s friend’s mom felt the same way, when she walked in on Sally’s “Gold Rush.”    After having a little freak out, the lady immediately drove Sally home, interrupting Betty and Henry’s own sex session, to inform them that their kid was a sexual deviant.  As per usual, Mommy Dearest makes this all about herself.  After threatening to chop Sally’s fingers off . . .

How pleasant!

 . . . Betty moans to Henry in bed about how UNPOPULAR Sally’s actions are going to make Betty with the other mothers.

“Now I’ll NEVER be prom queen!”

Concerned that Sally’s willingness to play fast and loose with her flower, might ultimately result in her becoming . . .

. . . Betty reluctantly considers Henry’s idea that Sally start seeing a therapist. 

“My daughter MUST be certifiably insane!  Where on Earth would she learn to pleasure herself on the couch?  Who DOES that?”

Ultimately, Betty suggests the therapy idea to Don, and he eventually agrees to it. 

Then, of course, when the therapist calls Don to confirm Sally’s appointment, the Lovely Miss Blankenship greets him, in his small office, with the paper thin walls . . .

 . . .  screeching, “DON, YOUR DAUGHTER’S PSYCHIATRIST IS ON THE PHONE!”

Oh, Miss Blankenship . . . You are most certainly . . .

How Don hasn’t fired you yet, is BEYOND ME!

Lesson 7 – Honesty is always the best policy . . . unless you’re in advertising.

Just when it seems as though all hope is lost for SCDP to win over the Honda campaign . . .

Don reconsiders his newfound knowledge of Japanese business, and comes up with an idea to sabotage his competitors, while, at the same time, potentially saving the account.

Recognizing that neither SCDP nor its main competitor, Cutler, have the funds necessary to produce a full advertising campaign for Honda, Don decides to make Cutler THINK that SCDP is breaking Honda’s rules and paying for a television campaign out-of-pocket.  The underlying assumption is that, by doing this, SCDP will goad Cutler into breaking the rules, thereby, shooting themselves in the foot.  Not to mention, potentially bankrupting themselves.  A few “clandestine” meetings, a fake filming session, and some carefully placed words later, the trap is set. 

 On the morning of the presentations, Cutler, as expected, goes forward with presenting Honda the television campaign, in violation of the prescribed rules for the advertising competition.  When Don enters the office, he expresses feigned outrage at Honda for entertaining such a blatant rule violation, and returns the $3,000, refusing to make any sort of presentation at all.  Interestingly enough, the Honda CEO likes Don’s attitude, he, himself, being somewhat of a  . . .

And so, even though Honda ends up keeping their motorcycle account with Grey.  They ultimately decide to throw SCDP a bone, by allowing the agency to represent their “small” car business.

Well, played, Don!  You . . .

The episode concludes with, among other things, Don sharing some Sake with the joyless Marketing Research Lady . . .

During this meeting, he learns that she is NOT married, and is only pretending to be, because, OF COURSE, once men learn Marketing Research Lady is single, they DEFINITELY won’t be able to control themselves around her. . .

I think we all know where THIS is heading . . .

Here we GO AGAIN!

Also, Betty speaks briefly with Sally’s new therapist, Dr. Edna  . . .

.  . . who seems pretty cool . . .

 Betty even agrees to visit the therapist, herself, a few times, in accordance with Sally’s “treatment.”

At the very end of the episode, Sally, accompanied by the Most Fabulous Housekeeper / Caretaker who ever lived, Carla . . .

 . . . heads off to visit Dr. Edna for the first time.  We’re rooting for you, Sally!  Because the world REALLY doesn’t need ANOTHER Betty Draper . . .

Well, that’s all I’ve got for this episode, folks!  Special thanks go out to Roger Hargreaves, and the spectacular Little Miss and Mister Men series, for helping me to illustrate this recap.

See you next week!

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Welcome Back, Mr. Draper! – A Recap of Mad Men’s Season 4 Premiere Episode “Public Relations”

You’ve been missed . . . you sexy Mad Man, YOU!

Hard to believe, it’s been a FULL YEAR since those crazy cats at Sterling Cooper up and left the agency that still bore THEIR OWN NAMES, to start a brand new one.  (Actually, it’s EASY to believe.  Every day away felt like pure torture to me!)  But, hey, the past is in the past, right?  It’s a new year (1964), and our Mad Men have a shiny new logo, and a brand new office, to call “home” . . .

Pretty snazzy, right?

So, pour yourself some scotch, light up a ciggy, and practice your “John’s” and “Marsha’s,” because it’s time to start recapping!

” . . . so cheap, they couldn’t afford to get us a whole reporter!”

“We’re crude, inappropriate, mean-spirited, and make fun of cripples.  But you love us, anyway!”

When the episode begins, Don is seated at a coffee shop, enduring a tedious interview with a bland journalist from an advertising rag.  The purpose of the interview is to drum up business for the still fledgling Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce advertising agency, which, a year after it’s inception, is still just finding its sea legs.  “Who is Don Draper?”  Bland Journalist inquires, ironically echoing nearly the exact sentiments of practically EVERY newspaper / magazine that has covered Mad Men in the past three years.

Others who have reviewed this episode found Don’s reply to this question, obnoxious.  I, however, felt it was entirely understandable, if not exactly polite or appropriate.  To me, “Who are you?”  is the autobiographical equivalent of that all-too-familiar job interview question, most feared and despised by prospective employees the world over:

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

There is absolutely NO good way to answer a question like this succinctly, without sounding at best, trite, and, at worst, like a total tool.  It’s a stress question, pure and simple.  Bland Journalist himself  all but confirms this, when Don challenges the nature of the inquiry.  “How do people respond, when you ask them that question?”  He scoffs.

“Usually they think about it for a moment, and then say something cute.”  (That’s right, because “cute” and “trade magazine” are clearly synonymous with one another).  Nevertheless, here are some examples of answers Don COULD have given:

“I am the walrus.”

Who am I?  That’s a secret I’ll never tell.  XOXO, Gossip Girl.

Instead, Don simply replies that he’s from the Midwest, where he was taught that it is impolite to talk about yourself.  He’d much prefer to talk about his new ad campaign for his client, Glo- Coat, but Bland Journalist isn’t biting.  He’s got all the information he needs.  “It’s only a couple hundred words, but, with any luck, the picture will be bigger than the article,” concludes Blandy.

Good call, Ad Age magazine!  VERY good call!

To make things even more awkward, Pete and Roger arrive on the scene, crowding Bland Journalist with their good natured butt-kissing, and shameless self-promotion, respectively.  “Here’s my card.  You’ll probably want to write an article about me when I finish my book,” offers Roger, completely without irony. 

Bland Journalist is apparently so excited by this prospect, that he knocks into the table and twists his leg around . . . his wooden leg, that is.  Awkward apologies are muttered all around.  And with a “sincere” thanks from Pete for his service to his country (turns out Blandy’s a Korean war vet), the Journalist is on his not-so-merry way. 

“Would you look at that?  [Ad Age] is so cheap, they couldn’t even afford to give us a whole reporter,” quips Silver Fox, Roger Sterling.

Pretty harsh, right?  In his defense, this isn’t the first time Roger’s dealt with the extremity-challenged, in a business capacity.  Perhaps, you recall last season, when this . . .

 . . . let to this . . .

 . . . and, subsequently, this . . .

So, coming from the guy who once did THIS . . .

 . . . I’d say Roger was surprisingly well behaved.  Wouldn’t you?

Is it any wonder Blandy ends up writing an article that makes Don look like a total prick, putting the company in jeopardy, and forcing clients to seek representation elsewhere (including Harry’s precious Jai Alai)?


“I’m trying to be an adult about this.   But it’s just SO HARD!”

Next stop for the trio is an impromptu meeting with Jantzen, a swim suit company, that wants to advertise bikinis (I’m sorry, TWO-PIECE SUITS), without resorting to any sex appeal whatsoever.  They justify this by claiming to be a “Family Company.”  Yeah . . . You know who ELSE is a “Family Company?”  Hooters . . .

“Give me my Ham (and my Jon Hamm!)”

Disgruntled that “Family Companies” like Jantzen are the kind they now have to beg for business, the Hot Trio heads back to their “new” office . . . well, it’s new to us anyway.  While bemoaning it’s small size (Employees have made a habit of lying to clients, and pretending it has a second floor . . . It doesn’t.), Scrappy Curmudgeon, Bertram Cooper, unwittingly gives us a nice tour of the place. 

During that tour we learn that Joan FINALLY has her own office . . .

And Peggy has a new part-time assistant / art guru.  The bad news is, it’s not Sal . . .

The good news is, this New Guy is pretty cute too!

Nice butt!

The character’s name is Joey Baird, and he’s played by Matt Long, who you may remember from the recently cancelled series, The Deep End, or the not-so-recently cancelled series, Jack and Bobby, or (blushes) the movie Sydney White, starring Amanda Bynes.

Wait  . . . that’s not a good picture of him.  Let me show you a better one . . .

You’re welcome!

When we first meet Joey, he’s playfully enjoying a little inside joke with our favorite Secretary-turned- Senior Copy Editor, Peggy Olson.

Love your newfound spunk, confidence, and laidback attitude, Peggy!  Not so crazy about the new ‘do . . .

Throughout the episode,  the two coo “John” and “Marsha” to one another repeatedly.  I’ll admit that, while I thought the whole bit was cute and amusing, I didn’t get the reference at first.  Upon further research, I learned that “John and Marsha” was a comedy sketch originated by a man named Stan Freberg in the late 1950’s.  If you are curious about it, you can find it, here.  However, it’s more or less what you see on the show.  Namely, lots of different variations on ways of saying the same two names, OVER and OVER and OVER again . . .

Along with the always adorable Pete Campbell (who I’ve majorly crushed on for three seasons straight, DESPITE his evil tendencies and smarminess; and who was unusually sweet, polite and altogether smiley, in this episode) . . .

I LOVE YOU . . .

 .  . . even though you might KILL ME!

 .  . . Peggy and Joey devise a cheap and easy way to advertise for one of their smaller clients, Sugarberry Ham.  The “advertising” will involve paying off two actresses to viciously fight over the ham in a grocery store, on the day before Thanksgiving.  Knowing that Don will likely disapprove of the stunt, they decide not to tell him.  Initially, the plan seems to go off without a hitch.  The “fight over the ham” makes headlines, and Sugarberry increases their advertising budget, as a result.   But then, one of the actresses charges the other one with assault, and an arrest is made. 

So, on Thanksgiving morning, Peggy has to call Don, with her tail between her legs, so that the actress in question can make bail.  Don initially balks at the request.  However, eventually, Don recalls that very special time when Peggy bailed HIM out of jail for drunk driving, while he was schtupping that comedian’s wife during Season 2 . . .

That is NOT Betty Draper . . .

He ultimately relents, allowing Peggy to come to his apartment to retrieve the cash.  Afraid of getting reamed a new one by her boss, Peggy brings her new boyfriend (fiance?) for protection.  Unfortunately, New Beau Mark doesn’t look like he could protect Peggy from a frisky kitten, much less Don.  Mark is played by Blake Bashoff, who Lost fans may remember as Dead Karl.  He looks like this . . .

 . . . only a bit older, and less bloody.

Mark does manage to let it slip that Peggy is his fiance, an admission which raises Don’s eyebrows, and which Peggy denies vigorously.

The next day at the office however, Don DOES ream Peggy a new one, for not informing him sooner about the stunt, and for jeopardizing the firm’s reputation.  But New and Improved Peggy more than holds her own in the Lion’s Den, arguing that the stunt DID in fact increase profits for Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce.  “Our reputation is pretty much where you left it,” retorts Peggy, not so subtly hinting at her boss’ Ad Age snafu.

Peggy also calls Don out on being spiteful, when he tells her she can’t take part in the Jantzen pitch meeting.  “You know, we’re all here because of you.  Everyone just wants to please you,” Peggy concludes matter-of-factly, before turning on her heel and stalking out of his office.  You GO GIRL!

Bitch Slaps and Girl Trouble

But Peggy isn’t the only lady giving Don Draper “girl trouble.”  He’s also coping with the fact that his wife is currently living in HIS marital home with the Deadly Boring Henry Francis, while HE keeps paying the mortgage (more on those two in a bit). Unaccustomed to seeing Don Draper NOT getting laid on a regular basis, Roger decides to set him up with cult leader Sarah Newlin from True Blood one of his tartlet new wife’s friends, Z-list actress, Bethany Van Nuys.

Bethany kind of reminds me of a slightly younger version of Betty Draper, on uppers.  She twirls to show Don her borrowed dress, and bemoans the sorry state of the world.  Later, on the taxi ride home, Bethany lets Don make out with her, and feel her up a bit, but will not let him walk her back to her apartment, “I know that trick,” she whispers coyly.

When he declines an invitation to spend Thanksgiving with Roger and his wife, Bethany offers to see him again on New Year’s Eve.  “We’ll see how things go,” she concludes, nonchalantly, before leaving Don to nurse his blue balls . . .

Unable to get a proper FREE lay, Don is forced to resort to paying for one.  In a slightly disturbing scene, Don invites a hooker to his shabby apartment, and instructs her to slap him in the face over and over again, with increasing force, as they screw.  I haven’t felt this uncomfortable watching Don Draper, since last season, when he picked up those hitchhikers, took some hallucinogenics, danced seductively with that teen from the kid show, Zoey 101, and passed out on the floor . . .

Now, I know there are a lot of powerful CEO types who enjoy being dominated in the bedroom, as a change of pace from their day-to-day lives.  But Don Draper has been SO emasculated, in practically every way possible, in recent episodes, that it’s a little surprising that HE, of all people, would be into this sort of thing. 

When Don picks up the children, the tension between him, Betty, and Henry is palpable.   To make matters worse, when he drops them off, Betty has intentionally stayed out past curfew.  He is, therefore, forced to wait alone in the dark of his former home, watching television, waiting for the inevitable confrontation to ensue . . .

In Evil Wench and Mr. Boring News . . .

Yes, that’s how I feel about them too, Sally!

When we first see Betty, this season, her and two of her three kids (What happened to Baby Gene?  Who stole Baby Gene?) are spending Thanksgiving with Henry’s family.  Clearly acting out, when Henry’s mother (who sort of didn’t look OLD enough to be his mother?) asks Sally Draper if she is enjoying the food, she poutily replies, “No.  I’m not hungry.”

In response, the kindly Betty shoves a heaping serving of marshmallows in Sally’s mouth, practically choking her own daughter.  Taken by surprise, Sally gags and spits up pre-chewed food all over the fancy table.   Betty then roughly drags Sally out by her arm, her long nails clawing into Sally’s wrist.  “You’re pinching me!”  Sally yelps, for the whole dinner table to hear.

Between this exchange and Betty’s later, “Don’t tell your Dad how mean I am to you” – threat in the hallway, late at night, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a movie I caught on cable recently.  Here, let me show you a clip . . .

“Well, she’s absolutely right!  Wire hangers ruin EVERYTHING!”

Seriously, could Betty BE a more hateful mother to her kids?  Fortunately, Naive and Not-Too-Swift, Bobby Draper, has, so far, gotten himself through this whole ordeal mostly unscarred.  But Sally?  That girl’s got “join a Doomsday cult” written ALL OVER HER!

“Time to drink the Kool Aid!”

Even Henry Francis’ cold shrew of a mother thinks Betty sucks at parenting.  “I’ve raised raised a few children in my day.  And those kids are terrified of her,” she cautions.

And the SECOND Worst Mother of the Year Award goes to . . .

“I see what appeals to you about her, and you don’t need marriage to get it.  She’s a Silly Woman, Henry.  And why are you still living in that man’s dirt?” Betty’s Monster-In-Law-To-BE continues.

“Because I’m a pig.  Oink, Oink!”

Clearly affected by his mother’s speech, sniveling rat, Henry, refuses to stick up for Betty, when Don confronts her about their not moving out of the house.  “He’s right, you know!  You haven’t even started looking,” whines Henry.

(Whatever happened to the guy who said, “I’ll take care of you, Betty.  I don’t want you to OWE [Don] anything, Betty?”  Has Mommy Dearest, Betty, sucked THAT out of him too?)

And you know what the ABSOLUTE WORST thing about this couple is?  They keep THEIR DOG CHAINED UP OUTSIDE!

FOR SHAME!

Don throws a temper tantrum, then FINALLY RE-grows a pair, and saves the day . . .

This picture has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with what I’m about to tell you.  I just really like it is all!

In the last few moments of the episode, Don and the rest of SCDP meet with the holier-than-thou Jantzen Swimsuit execs.  Don responds to their request that he keep their advertising pure and clean by . . . NOT LISTENING TO THEM AT ALL! 

 “So well built, we can’t show you the top floor,” Don pitches, showing the saintly wing nuts a highly suggestive (especially given the times) photograph of a woman wearing only a bikini bottom, and a white band across her boobs, so that you can’t tell whether she’s wearing a top, or not.

For whatever reason, Don’s advertisement kind of reminded me of THIS.

Well, the Jantzen people are appalled.  You can almost see their panties getting tied in a knot over the thought of this “lewd” picture representing their “Family Company.”  When they politely protest, Don berates them for their prudishness, and violently kicks them out of the office.  “Get me an interview with The Wall Street Journal,” he barks.

“And I thought I was the baby of the office!”

The Season Premiere Episode of Mad Men ended much as it began, with Don Draper being interviewed by a journalist, this time a slightly less bland one from The Wall Street Journal.  Here, a newly animated Don (humbly) touts himself as the driving force behind SCDP.  He then launches into the story of how SCDP got started, which is basically the same story that made up the Season 3 Finale.  A very exciting tale indeed!

So, there you have it, the Season Premiere Episode of Mad Men.  So what did you think?  Was it everything you hoped it would be?  Do you hate Betty and Henry as much as I do?  Do you think I’m weird for crushing on Pete for as long as I have?  Important questions . . . all. 

But before you go, I have something you might want to try . . .

It’s a little quiz from AMC’s website, in which you “interview” for a job at SCDP.  The first time I took it, I got “Secretary,” which, I have to admit, bugged me a bit.  Apparently, I’m a bit too nice for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce . . . So, I “interviewed” again and got “Account Manager.”  Much better .  . .

You can try the quiz, here.

[Watch Mad Men Sunday nights, at 10 p.m. on AMC.]

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