Episode Reviews (10)
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Appearances and other conceits
Reviewing "Mad Men" is, in some respects, an exercise in futility. The writers have become so practiced at layering historical social commentary, subtle character study, and dry wit that it's sometimes like staring down the rabbit hole. Every time you think you have a grasp on the entirety of the scope, Matthew Weiner manages to slip in something else.
The fourth season is something of a minor reboot, picking up a year after the series-altering events of the third season finale. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is the maverick upstart of the Madison Avenue set, and there are the inevitable growing pains. The first three seasons made it very clear that Don was the star employee, the man with his finger on the pulse of the public consciousness. But what happens when the star of the show begins to struggle with his own sense of identity?
It's a question with double meaning on "Mad Men", because longtime fans know that Don Draper is not who he seems to be. His sense of self was always firmly rooted in the image he had built around himself. The man so comfortable with artifice, deception, and guile in his professional world had constructed his own life out of the same whole cloth. Now that the person construct has fallen apart, Don struggles with the professional one.
This episode starts the season off at a low point, and chronicles the moment when Don came to realize that he had lost his touch. By the end of the episode, by focusing on rebuilding the image of "who is Don Draper", we see the beginning of his effort to pull out of the spiral and re-establish his sense of self. Whether this is the beginning of a turnaround or a fool's rally is the key question.
I make the assumption that the continued focus on Sally is quite calculated. It can go a few ways, and perhaps it will touch on both and much more before all is said and done. On one level, Don's interaction with Sally continues to reveal the weaknesses of his character; it breaks the illusion that he works so hard to project. But it may also represent the reward at the end of Don's long journey. As long as Sally is still in the picture, there's hope for a return to what was lost.
Peggy, Pete, and the rest of the impressive cast continue to be a perfect reflection of the various aspects of the Don Draper myth. As they emulate Don and his success, they fall into familiar patterns. It is the eternal struggle of self-identity vs. societal expectation, the truth behind the façade.
By the end of the episode, it's clear that Don is embarking on the task of redefining his own legend. His partners and his livelihood demand it. Who is Don Draper? Right now, whoever the clients need him to be.moreless
A great start to the new series...
Favourite Quote: "This is a missed opportunity, you turned all the sizzle from 'Glo-Coat' in to a wet fart!"
The question I ask myself after I watch any episode of any show - is: 'What strikes me the most about this particular episode'. After all, every episode is unique in its own way. In the case of Mad Men, 'Public Relations', what struck me hard as much as it struck Drapers character is the new sexual fantasies that Donald Draper has developed. During the episode, Isabel, a young, petite sex interest of his slaps Donald sadistically on his request. Although this is an interesting concept, I wonder where the writers got it from? It seems very mid-80s and too liberal for the 50s/60s. Regardless, out of the entire episode, the scene stuck out the most!
Now, as for the new ad-agency, taking on the surnames of all the major partners - called 'Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce' and only has just one-floor by the way. Firstly, I should point out, Holloway does not get a title in the company name, I suppose this has something to do with the portrayal of women in the 50s, as you will see in the episode, that there is also no stigma attached referring to the disabled reporter as 'half'. Donald Draper is finding it difficult to manage the mortgage on his home, the taxes and bills - even though he doesn't live there, Betty does. Betty Draper has become more 'excited' with her new love interest, Henry (who we pick off from last season). There is a battle between her romance with Henry and her children, both of whom are very attached to their fathers character. The character of Betty is becoming careless, and refuses to move out of the house.
Pete and Peggy are on good terms, and work together on pulling off a publicity stunt to sell more Hams. Problem being the people involved in the publicity stunt (two women fight over hams) want money for bail, and even more for their discretion, which could stain the newly founded reputation. Donald punishes Peggy for the stunt after finding out, by excluding her from a potential client meeting.
In the beginning, Donald Draper is sitting at a restaurant, discussing himself to a reporter. After being asked 'Who is Donald Draper', he replies 'I grew up in the Mid-West, there it was impolite to talk about yourself'. Giving the crippled reporter - the freedom to write openly about Draper proves a mistake on Drapers part. He is portrayed negatively in the press. Sterling and the others are disappointed. Following on from this, a client who make Bikinis wants to be more 'modest' by naming their products '2pc Bathing Suits', and being more 'family' oriented. After the client refuses to take on Donald's idea on a provocative ad for their bathing suits, Donald becomes angry and kicks his clients out of his office for not taking the risks to beat the competition.
There is a lot going on with Donald Draper and the company. After a client pulls out, and Donald kicking out a potential second, the company has little to fall back on. That said however, he rises to the challenge when Roger Sterling manages to get him a second interview, this time with the Wall Street Journal. The series ends with the classic 'Tobacco Road', possibly signifying Donald's journey thus far.
Review by See_Everythingmoreless
Don Draper the rock star
For someone who is new to this Emmy hoarding drama, let me tell you something. This show is going to drag so much that one hour will seem like an year. The premiere was just a good opener, but I didn't really see the same excitement with which they left off last October.
The office setting is new and clearly the crew has put in a lot of thought into representing architecture as a function of time. At the end of season 3, we were expecting a new workplace, a workplace where there are no power struggles, a place where Joan has as much of a say as Don, and one where Peggy is not treated like a piece of trash.
Well I was wrong, the new workplace seemed more like the old one. We still have the same power structure where Don Draper subjects his people to his whims and fancies. And Joan, well she was pretty much forgotten, again. Betty Draper's character is simply annoying and reminds me of someone who is on the verge of killing themselves. She wasn't happy when she was with Don, and her new life with Henry doesn't seem like walk in paradise either. She will continue to be a troubled soul, and till that time, every minute she comes on screen will be simply dreadful.
I liked the opener, though there was nothing much to read into and take away from it. I hope this season provided the much need stimulating drama, we rarely find on TV these days.moreless
Don Draper feels the heat as an interview puts the new form in a bad light. Peggy and Peter pull a stunt that tunrs ugly while Betty starts her new life with Henry.
I haven't written a review on this site for ages feeling that it would take a real great piece of TV to get me to start talking about all this again. No surprise then that it was Mad Men that got me writing again.
I have always been a fan of this show but it never really lived up to the praise until the back end of last season that culminated into the end of Sterling Cooper and the creation of Sterling Cooper Draper Price. Thankfully I can report that this premiere of season 4 lives up to the impressive and open foundations laid at the end of season 3. This week Don sits down for an interview and it acts as an advertisement for Don's scrapping new firm. But things don't go to plan as Don is as illusive as ever with the interview and it puts the company in a bad place leading to Hi-Li jumping ship just as it was beginning to bear some unimaginable fruit. Don is now torn between what he was last year as a pure creative to now where he is also the driving force of the new business.
Meanwhile, Peggy and Peter create a stunt involving two women fighting over a thanks giving ham as a way to get a compnay to bump up its advertising budget. Things go to plan before the two actors engaged in the fight get heated with one another and one files assault charges on the other. When Don gets wind of it he is not happy.
In other news, Betty is having the good life with Henry as his family not at all won over by Betty as they question her as a mother as well as a person. Henry ignores his family but thats just half the trouble. Don is upset when he cant see his baby boy and he continues to pay for the house even though he doesn't live there and Betty agreed to move out months ago but has not made any plans to leave.
This opening ep was smart, funny and very slick. There are many plotlines opening up that I can't wait to explore further. Mad Men is back and is better than ever before. Never has a show 4 seasons in seem so fresh.moreless
MY FIRST EPISODE
k first of all this is my first full episode of mad men i have watched so dont send me hate mail if i get the myhtology wrong or if i refer to a charactor as the character who looks like colonel sanders:) this show isnt as great as my friends had told me, but dont get me wrong i liked it, i just didnt find it up there with the greats. don is coping with his divorce with betty. he attempts dating, one of them including him being asked to be slapped which i thought was quite funny, but still is miserable. betty is trying a relationship with a new man but feels guilty about it. so its like their destined to be togethor still. don and roger try to get deals for the company togethor but don loses it by setting up a risque poster ad. all in all it seems like a very stylishly crafted show obviously written with brilliant minds, and i feel like this is a show ill watch til they end it after their sixth season. please message me if i got something wrong because alot of this review i went on assumption:)moreless
The fourth season of Mad Men takes the much-lauded show to a new level as the characters have almost gotten too comfortable on Madison Avenue. It is to be assumed that Don Draper will sleep with any woman, so when he did not do so on the first night it was shocking. It is expected that Roger will make some inappropriate comments; that did happen.
But with this comfortability comes a familiar trap that a lot of shows have fallen into: they do not try as hard. In its early years Mad Men had to be creative to get an audience, but just because the episodes are easier to write now, that does not mean they are just as good. The dinner scene, for example, felt incredibly forced here. The banter was lacking, the directing was more pretentious than arty.
There was a lot to like in Season 4 of Mad Men, but frankly, there was a lot to dislike as well. For all of its originality that the show importunes to its viewers, there is a scene with the recently divorced Don and Betty bickering like couples have been doign since The Flinstones.
Mad Men may revitalize summer TV, but frankly this premiere disappointed.moreless
Mad Men is back and still brilliant.
Don deals with a trade-paper interview but doesn't want to talk about himself. A manufacturer of a "wholesome" two-piece bathing suit wants to hire the firm but doesn't want anything too risque. Pete and Peggy try to secure more money for the firm and when their plan goes awry, Don has to pick up the pieces.
Love the new direction the show has taken its great the way it hasn't change the quality of the series, I was worried that the show may return and not be the same but the writers have proven me wrong. Cant wait to see where season 4 leads Don and everyone else.moreless
Mad men is back! To be comfortable and dead or risky and rich is the question.
The new season starts out with the appropriately named title "Public Relations" where Don learns that in his new firm, he is the star and he must take control of his image. This parallels to previous seasons where he sculted an image of the 50's American dream. A great job, marriage to a beautiful women, three kids, and had it all.
Of course we learned this was a lie, and the 50's image of himself burned down last season as his wife Betty left him for a doting older man, Henry Francis. As the episode begins, he is still the old Don, being mysterious and still holding on to his old life. He will not kick Betty out of the house, and Henry has moved in. He is mysterious with a reporter who was supposed to be writing a valentine piece about him, which causes the story to be negative, much to his new office's chagrin. Don is also living a suprisingly dark life outside the office in a modest hotel where the only action is from a prostitute who he pays to hit him. He is obviously punishing himself for his marriage failing.
The product ties into the theme (as it always does on this show) as Janzen swimwear (not bikini!) wants Don but doesn't want change. They want to repackage the old and true to make their modest swimwear more desirable. However, Don makes a pitch about taking risks (see the quote above) and when they don't like it, he kicks them out.
In the end, he makes a new interview with the Wall Street Journal where he repackages and rebrands himself as the rebel and regails the reporter with the exciting tale of how the firm got started. The 50's Don is dead, and he is now ahead of the curve in the 60's mentality of doing your own thing and not wanting to be a corportae hack.
The "B" story was Betty, who also did not grow at all since we last saw her. Without the sympathy angle of being married to Don, he character now seems even more childish. She is living in her old marital house with Henry. (what a scandal that must have caused the neighborhood) Sally is showing signs of rebellion, but her son is unfazed by the new arrangement. Henry's mother is scornful, calling his new wife silly and asking how could he stand living in another man's baggage. Good question! He wanted a trophy wife and his mother ackowledges she is pretty, but why buy a cow with tht much baggage.
Don is creating a new identity of a suave rebel. He must sell himself to clients as he is the firm. Everyone in the office told him that in one way or the other throughout the episode. Is this new image the real Don Draper? Will Betty ever grow up or be unhappy forever (probably) the new season will answer these questions.moreless
Mad Men's back! The thing I love about the show is that it is never predicable; you think you know where the writers are taking you, and then they take a fascinating detour.
As always, my favorite character is Peggy and my favorite interactions are Peggy and Don. They have a clashing yet mutually-supportive relationship that is endearing and subtle. I loved when he told Peggy to "spit it out, honey." Then when he was getting snotty with Peggy over the ham brouhaha, she reminded him he didn't exactly do a lot for the firm's image either--thanks to his less than stellar first interview.
I've never been a big fan of Betty, even when Don was cheating on her and receiving reports from her therapist. I just find that she's a cold fish. I don't know if that's because of the material she's given or a result of January's portrayal. I actually enjoy watching Betty's slow realization that she traded one prison for another. Her reluctance to move out of the house she shared with Don is telling and Henry should be careful; Henry's reluctance to spend time with Betty and baby Gene is equally telling and Betty should be careful. Though, I did appreciate Henry sticking up for Sally when his mother got all huffy. However, I think his mother has Betty's number more than Henry. Poor Sally. She's so going to go wild when the 70s hit!
P.S. More Joan please.moreless
Very well worth the very brief wait!
Welcome back! I had the benefit of marathon-ing the entire series for the past 2 months and finally made it in the nick of time (literally watched the finale of season 3 just over an hour ago) to watch the premiere of season 4. What a great and wonderful ride! Thank you Mad Men for making it all worthwhile with a fresh, new, engaging episode that made me love this show all over again.
To give too many highlights would probably give away too much in the spoiler department, so I will just say it was intriguing to see where the characters have ended up in the aftermath of season 3. There is obviously a long way to go for all of them, and it's going to be difficult but they seem up to the challenges.moreless