Tag Archives: Lucky Strike

The Return of Freddy Rumsen (and Creepy Glen): A Recap of Mad Men’s “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”

“Ho, ho, ho!  Don’s a ho, ho, ho!”

Tonight’s installment of Mad Men marked the “return” of a number of important people and things:

First, there was Freddy Rumsen . . .

A man whose vast talents include: pissing himself before client meetings, taking “six-month leaves” and playing Mozart with his fly . . .

Also, returning for this episode was Glen Bishop . . .

His talents include:  creeping everybody out, watching grown women pee, asking for locks of their hair, and being show producer, Matt Weiner’s kid in real life!

“That’s my boy!”

The final addition to the “People Returning” category is Lee Garner, Jr. . . .

His talents include trying to rape Sal . . .

 . . . getting Sal fired because he tried to rape him, and making fans HATE HIS GUTS for getting rid of Sal.

Other non-human returnees included:

Peggy’s virginity . . .

But it left a few minutes later . . .

And Don’s misery and lack of good judgment . . .

But, when you think about it, has that EVER really left?

So, now that we’ve given all the old -newcomers a warm welcome, what do you say we get on with the show?

The Case of Creepy Glen and the Phantom Phone Calls

“I don’t know about you.  But I’m just really happy to be involved a storyline that doesn’t involve someone dying, or me getting screamed at by my Mean Mommy.”

When the episode first opens, the new “Francis family,” led by the “about as exciting as watching paint dry,” Henry Francis . . .

“What exactly is wrong with watching paint dry?  I very much enjoy watching paint dry.  It’s scintillating . . .”

 . . . are searching for a Christmas tree that won’t scrape the paint off their ceiling.  While there, Sally runs into Creepy Glen . . .

“I heard you got a new dad.  My mom said that would happen,” offers Glen conversationally.  (Ohhh  BURN!  Take that Mama Betty!  You should have really thought twice about giving this boy a lock of your hair.  He’s out for revenge now!)

Glen then shows Sally his red twine dispenser, and Sally remarks at its beauty, before being called away by her brother.

“I might call you sometime,” threatens Glen, as he ponders putting a lock of Mama Betty’s hair on a squirrel he just killed, and making it into a voodoo doll.

Creepy Glen DOES call Sally.  But instead of revealing his true identity when Housekeeper Carla picks up the phone, he refers to himself as STANLEY, his evil alter ego.  As if Creepy Glen wasn’t creepy enough before, he now has multiple personality disorder too! 

Sally, who, unfortunately, has never seen the film Fatal Attraction (both because it’s Rated R, and because it hasn’t come out yet in 1964), takes this brilliant opportunity to pour her heart out to Creepy Glen / Stanley.  “I hate it here.  I really, really do,” she gripes.

(It’s interesting how Betty CLAIMS to be squatting in Don’s house with her new husband for the “children’s sake” and the “children” themselves, don’t even want to be there.)

“Bad Mommy!”  (says Creepy Glen, as he stabs a pin in Voodoo Betty’s heart).

“Don’t worry.  One day your parents will wake up and they will want to move.  You’ll see,” Glen offers, cryptically, before hanging up the phone.

That night, while the “Francis’s” (I’m never going to get used to typing that) are out for dinner, Glen once again calls the house.  This time, no one answers.  He and his friend then somehow break into the house and vandalize it, by pouring food from the fridge all over the place.  “There’s eggs in my bed,” complains Bobby, who has had more to say in this episode then he did throughout the entire third season of this show.

“My room is fine,” exclaims a confused Sally, as she walks toward her night table and finds Creepy Glen’s red twine dispenser – clearly, a gift of love . . .  FROM HELL! 

(Insert maniacal laughter here.)

“Mark” Your Man?

You know who wasn’t getting stalked by a creeper this week?  Peggy!  But she WAS getting pressured into sex, by her clingy, nasally voiced loser of a boyfriend, Mark.  (PEGGY!  You can do SO much better!)

I rest my case.

“I want to be your first,” whines Dweeby Mark, uttering the most unintentionally hilarious line in the entire episode, about the girl who got knocked up by Pete, and who Duck Phillips gave “a go around like she never had before.”

Like a virgin .  . . touched for the very tenth time . . .

Born Again Peggy tells Marky Mark with his Pants in a Bunch that she “wants to wait.”  He responds by laying on her the slobberiest, most unsexy, kiss of all time.  “Think about THAT!”  He says triumphantly, as he struts out of her apartment.  Oh, she’s thinking about it, all right . . . and so are we . . .

After admitting to herself that she “doesn’t want to be alone on New Years,” Peggy receives some advice from Freddy Rumsen about “men.”   Freddy tells her that she should “not lead the boy on,” because that’s PAINFUL . . .

Ahem.

 . . . and that if she “really likes him, she should wait,” Peggy decides to screw Marky Turd anyway.  Hey Mark, get the hint . . .

But, hey, at least you won’t have to worry about THESE anymore . . .

Freddy Rumsen Doesn’t DO Santa Claus!

(Insert sad zipper music here.)

Well, I, for one, enjoyed seeing Freddy Rumsen return. (Now we just need Sal, Ken and Paul!)  Unfortunately, the poor guy didn’t seem to be enjoying himself all that much this week!  It’s tough being on the wagon in an office filled with alcoholics, isn’t it Freddy? 

 Just ask THIS GUY . . .

Sorry, wrong Duck.  I mean THIS GUY . . .

Kind of blew the punchline there, didn’t I?

Speaking of Duck, I never did forgive him for what he did to poor Chauncey . . .

So NOT cool!

But I digress, back to On-The-Wagon Freddy  . . . 

He comes to the offices of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce, sober 16 months, and armed with a two-million dollar account, Ponds Face Cream.  When asked how he managed to receive such a windfall, Freddy explained that he and the CEO were “in the same fraternity” (more on that later). 

Interestingly enough, the heretofore, happy-go-lucky (happy-go-drunky?) Freddy specifically requests that Pete not have anything to do with the account, as it was Pete who ultimately got Freddy canned for The Piss Heard Round the World.  Now, not that I blame Freddy at all for his decision, but I would be careful, messing with Pete, if I were him.  After all, the dude IS armed . . .

 . . . and REALLY likes to hunt!

Freddy might not be happy to see Pete, but he’s thrilled to see Peggy, at least initially.  Upon entering the office, he lovingly refers to her as, “Ballerina,” and gives her a big bear hug.  If you recall, it was Freddy who first convinced Don and Co. to give then-secretary Peggy a shot at being copywriter for the old agency.  And look how far she’s come since then!

“I’ve come VERY far!  I now wear granny suits, and have the haircut of an 85- year old, despite being in my mid 20s!”

Peggy’s and Freddy’s reminiscences are cut short when Roger Sterling comes back from lunch with the Ponds CEO, clearly wasted!

Not THAT wasted!

“That man sure knows how to have a good time!”  Roger proclaims about his lunch companion, before stumbling back to his office. 

“That’s some job he has,” scoffs Peggy upon Roger’s exit, echoing the same thoughts many of us Mad Men fans have had throughout the course of the series.  Seriously, does Roger ever work?  (He does have the best one liners-though!)

“I also have the best sex life.  Unless you count Don . . .”

Freddy is not paying attention to Peggy’s gripes, however.  He’s worried about the CEO of Ponds.  He gets up and rushes to make a call.  “I heard you went out with Roger Sterling today.  Do you have something to tell me?”  Freddy says into the phone.

Clearly, the “fraternity” Freddy and the CEO were in together only has two Greek letters in it . . . and both of them are “alpha.”

Later, Peggy and Freddy argue over the Ponds campaign.  Freddy wants to use more mature models as spokeswomen, and Peggy wants to use young beautiful ones.  Gone are the days of prim and proper Peggy, who would either hold her tongue completely or politely express her disapproval, when one of her colleagues made a campaign suggestion that was ill advised.  She really let poor Freddy have it, basically telling him, in no uncertain terms, that he was “old-fashioned” and had no talent. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for women sticking up for themselves.  And Freddy’s notion that young women idolize and want to look like old ones, simply because old women are MARRIED, is pretty laughable.  And yet, the diatribe seemed a bit tactless on Peggy’s part.  Talk about biting the hand that once fed you!

Freddy wasn’t much better, telling Peggy that if she didn’t work so hard, maybe she’d actually find a man that would want to marry her (and impliedly allow her to stay home barefoot and pregnant).  Riiiiiiight, because MARRIED women are always SO MUCH happier than single ones . . .

Need I say more?

When Freddy didn’t show up for the office Christmas party, Peggy became concerned.  So, she was understandably relieved to see Freddy in the office the next day.  “I don’t want to have to worry that you are going to go out and get drunk, every time I hurt your feelings,” scoffs Peggy.

REAL NICE!  Pick on the former alchy, why don’t you?  What happened, Peggy?  Did Marky Turd steal your sensitivity chip?

As it turns out, Freddy didn’t skip the Christmas party because Peggy “hurt his feelings,” he simply didn’t want to be Santa, because, for whatever, reason, Freddy associated wearing the Santa costume with getting wasted in it.  Whatever the reason, he manages to stay sober. 

 Good for you, Freddy!

But you know who most certainly, DIDN’T stay sober this episode?

Don (Juan?) and Roger Claus

Not only is Don drunk for much of this hour, he is also having a REALLY difficult time getting laid.  First he tries to hit on his new neighbor, Reed from Grey’s Anatomy . . .

 . . . who has miraculously been brought back to life after her untimely death, and reincarnated as a nurse.  “Reed” (who according to Wikipedia is called “Phoebe” on this show) is initially a very friendly new neighbor to Don, flirting with him mercilessly, and expressing concern over his habit of returning to his apartment inebriated on a regular basis.  Upon confirming that Don is not the Scrooge he appears to be, (“I don’t hate Christmas.  I just hate THIS Christmas,” he clarifies), she even invites him to her Christmas party, an invitation that he declines. 

 But when “Phoebe” helps a drunken Don into his apartment, and he tries to pull her into bed with him, she refuses.  STRIKE ONE!

Don’s next target is a pretty market researcher . . .

 . . . whose presentation Don walks out on, because he doesn’t want to answer a questionnaire about his parents . . . (That’s understandable, Dick Whitman Don Draper).  When the researcher calls Don out on his evasive and rude behavior, he asks her out on a date.  She declines, condescendingly telling him that he’ll be married in a year to someone else, anyway.  STRIKE TWO!

But Don isn’t the only SCDP owner lowering his batting average this episode, Roger strikes out himself when he mistakenly invites Lucky Strike scion, Lee Garner, D-Bag (a client who more or less OWNS SCDP) to the office’s small “belt-tightened” Christmas party.

“Is Sal going to be there?  I really miss Sal!”

Suddenly, the tightened belt must be loosened A LOT!  “[You] have to take this party from Convalescent Home to Roman Orgy,” Roger instructs Joan.  (She does.)  “Wear that red dress with the bow on the back that looks like a present.”  (She does.)

SUCCESS!

Lee, meanwhile, uses the party held in his honor, to basically make Roger’s life miserable.  First he hits on both Roger’s new wife, and “Joanie,” his former lover.  He then forces Roger to don a Santa suit, and takes pictures of him, with all the male employees sitting on his lap.  (Fodder for the Lee Garner Jr. Spank Bank, no doubt.)

“But where’s Sal?  I want Sal in the picture!”

To Roger’s credit, he’s an exceptionally good sport about the whole thing.  The same can’t really be said for Don, who copes with the awkward event by getting completely sh*tfaced.  He does share a sweet moment with Peggy, though.  (“Merry Christmas, Sweetheart,” he tells her, and we can tell he really means it.)

When Don arrives home to find he has left his keys in his office, he calls his secretary, Allison (played by Alexa Alemanni), who is still at the party, but is about to leave with New Guy Joey and friends.  She locates Don’s keys and agrees to bring them to his apartment.  When New Guy Joey finds out that Allison is headed to La Casa de Drunk Don, he is not pleased.  “He’s pathetic,” grumbles New Guy Joey about his boss. 

(Note: A lot of fans on the message boards seemed “appalled” by Joey’s lack of respect for Don.  But was I the only one that saw something more here?  Does anyone else think Joey has the hots for Allison?  After all, he did draw her what looked like it might have been a personalized caricature in her likeness, earlier in the episode . . .

 . . . and he DOES have a cute butt!  I wasn’t really a fan of that hideous RED velvet suit he was wearing during the office party though . . . That was HORRID!)

Anyway, Allison arrives at Don’s house to find him sleeping on the floor outside his apartment.

She lets him inside, sits him on the couch, and gets him a glass of water and some Aspirin, which he quickly downs.  But as she is set to leave, he grabs her hand, and pulls her onto the couch with him.  He then begins to kiss her, as he caresses her neck.  “Don’t,” she says softly and without much fervor.

“Don’t, what?”  He asks, laughing a bit, before beginning to kiss her again.

Allison manages to pull away one more time, but when the third kiss comes, she is completely swept away.  “Oh,” she says with surprise, as Don falls on top of her, on the couch.

A few short minutes later . . . (because, lets be honest, Don had A LOT to drink), it’s all over.  After a few moments of surprisingly tender petting, Allison sheepishly rights her clothing, and tells Don she has to go meet her friends.  “Are you sure?”  He asks.

Allison nods and heads for the door, “I . . . um,”  She begins, not sure of how to broach the issue.

“I understand,” says Don.

The next day, however, it becomes pretty obvious, that Don does NOT understand!  He basically lets Allison know, in no uncertain terms, that, in his mind, this was a “one time thing.”  “I’ve too often taken advantage of your kindness,” he says.

Allison takes the hint, and, blinking back tears, accepts the envelope Don hands her, containing her Christmas bonus.  She eagerly opens the envelope, hoping for some sign that there was more to all this than Don “taking advantage of her kindness.” 

But along with the cash, is a card containing only one phrase: “Thank you for all your hard work.” – which, admittedly, can be interpreted in one of two ways, both of which make Poor Allison feel like a hooker  . . . (At least Don never asked her to slap him.)

Bad Don!

[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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My Love Letter to AMC’s Mad Men

To promote Season 4 of its critically acclaimed television series, Mad Men, AMC will be airing “marathons” featuring the five “best” (as determined by viewer votes) episodes of the show’s first three seasons.  The marathons are scheduled to air each Monday night (starting at 8 p.m.) until the season premiere (Sunday, July 25th at 10 p.m.). 

Tonight’s marathon installment featured five episodes from my favorite season of the show, namely, it’s first season.  Watching the marathon (and yes, I actually sat through all five hours) reminded me of how spectacular this program is, and how much I have missed having it in my life during its interminably long hiatus. 

The phrase “relationship television” refers to the phenomenon where a viewer will compulsively watch a particular television show each week, to the point of sometimes altering their personal and professional lives around the viewing of that show.  I am not ashamed to admit that I am in a “relationship” with Mad Men.  And you know what’s great about relationships?  The cheesy love letters that come with them, of course!

Dear Mad Men,

The first time I heard about you, I wasn’t sure we would get along.  You see, typically, I’m not a big fan of “period pieces.” 

And, although you are certainly more contemporary than other shows of that genre, you ARE technically a period piece, Honey.  Granted, you received rave reviews from highly intellectual critics and pundits, even before you arrived.  But that just made me think you were stuck up and elitist.

Plus, you were on a television channel that I had never watched before — one that I had heard catered almost exclusively to really, really old people.

But a friend of mine aggressively sang your praises.  She told me how hot, sexy, smart, and witty you were.  She had me at “hot and sexy” . . .

So, I watched the pilot episode.  And even before the first commercial break, I was hooked.  I mean, it was REALLY love at first sight.

Your pilot episode opened with this brilliant scene!   In it (just in case you don’t remember), the lead protagonist, Don Draper, is in a bar, struggling over an advertising campaign he must pitch to the makers of Lucky Strike cigarettes, the following morning.  You see, it had recently been revealed that smoking could cause lung cancer. 

Furthermore, federal legislation prevented advertisers from saying that cigarettes were “healthy.”  The meeting was just a few hours away, and Don still had nothing to present to his clients.  So, understandably, your protagonist was a tad stressed out.  So while Don is busy getting plastered at the bar, he is also hard at work, brainstorming ideas for his campaign (Talk about multi-tasking!).  To organize his ideas, Don uses the advanced technology available to him during the 1960’s.   No lame lined notepad is good enough for the likes of Don Draper! NO WAY!

Don has something a bit more “high-tech” in mind . . .

I mean, seriously, he wrote ALL OVER that napkin!  By the time he was finished, there was so much writing on that piece of cloth, you could barely tell what color it was! 

When the waiter approaches Don, the latter tries to wrangle him into a conversation about what type of cigarettes he smokes (Hint: NOT Lucky Strikes).  “I just love to smoke,” explains the waiter, matter-of-factly.  Don deems the statement important enough to jot down on the sacred napkin.  (Way to go, Waiter Dude!)

This conversation is interrupted by the manager of the restaurant, who immediately presumes that the waiter is bothering Don, simply because said waiter is black.  As a child of the late 20th century, I found the blatant racism to be pretty shocking and offensive.  But back then, it must have been fairly common place.  Then, as Don scans the bar, the entire room seems to explode in a giant puff of smoke! 

Because, of course, EVERYONE smoked in the early 1960’s!  The scene I just described was less than five minutes long.  Yet, despite its deceptive simplicity, it spoke volumes.

That’s one of the things I love most about you, Mad Men.  You never talk down to me, or feel the need to spell things out for me.  You don’t take my intelligence for granted.  This makes me feel smarter, when I watch you.  And, in case you haven’t noticed, I enjoy feeling smart. 

(It happens so rarely, after all.)

Aside from your witty writing and snappy dialogue, you know what else is so great about you?  Your cast of characters . . .

When writing a show that takes place in a corporate environment, it’s sometimes tempting to simply rehash the same stale corporate stereotypes we generally see on show’s of the “office” variety.  But you didn’t take the easy way out, Mad Men.  Each of YOUR characters are multi-faceted and complex, from the lead role down to mere walk-on parts, like, for example, that waiter in the aforementioned pilot episode. 

In fact, it wouldn’t be at all out of the ordinary for a character who initially seemed pigeon-holed in the uptight “goody two shoes” role to rock out at a party . . .

. . . or get high on some killer weed, while spending a late night at the office . . .

. . . or get knocked up by a coworker, and not tell him about the baby until a full season year has passed, since it was given up for adoption.

I also wouldn’t put it past you to have a heretofore pristine and well-coifed housewife come completely unglued . . .

 . . . or to have a beloved gay character nearly raped by a man, and then subsequently fired for REFUSING to submit to the rapist’s advances . . .

Oh, and the female characters on this show?  They totally kick ass!

Early 1960’s America wasn’t a kind place for working women.  In the workplace, they were often mistreated, and undervalued, if not openly sexually harassed.

They also lacked the same opportunities as men, and were expected to conform to the demeaningly narrow stereotypes of the era.

And yet, many of the female characters on this show, bucked societal trends, and found success in the “take-no-prisoners” world of corporate New York City.

Did I mention that the men on the show are hot?

And their sexual conquests are even hotter?

Seriously, what more could I ask for in a “Television Show Relationship?”

Well . . . maybe there is one more thing, I could ask for.  It’s a minor thing, really.  It’s just that . . .  DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING AWAY FOR SO DAMN LONG?

I know they say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but a YEAR???  Come on, Mad Men!  That type of “absence” just makes the heart depressed.

And yet, now, I hear you are returning to my home in just a few short weeks!

So, I hope you’ve been working out . . .

 . . . because I plan to have some SERIOUS makeup sex with you, upon your return!

See you on July 25th!  I love you!

XOXO,

KJewls

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