Mad Men

Season 4 Episode 2

Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Aug 01, 2010 on AMC

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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  • 402

    The second episode of Mad Men's fourth season is a step up from the show's pedestrian return last week, but it still fails to catapult off the momentum from the end of last season. Why they chose to jump months ahead and skip over the chaos of the new ad agency getting off the ground is beyond me, but it would not be the first bonehead move Matt Weiner has made with this show.

    Mad Men needs to be about more than Don and Peggy, but right now it is the Don and Peggy show, which sounds like a sketch from The Sonny and Cher Show, not the alleged best drama on television. Vincent Kartheiser does a great job with Pete Campbell every week, but he's lucky to get 3 minutes of screen time.

    The song at the end just came off as very pretentious too. Mad Men has the aura of a good show, but something is missing right now.
  • Another excellent episode

    The agency's Christmas party is nearly spoiled by the late arrival of a surprise and not-so-welcome visitor; Sally reconnects with Glen Bishop, while Freddy Rumsen resurfaces at the new agency; Don makes a mistake with his secretary. Another top notch episode of the new season, I'm really enjoying seeing Don struggle with being separated from Betty. The Christmas party was very funny. Highlight of the episode was the scene where Roger Sterling had to dress up like Santa Claus, it was hilarious. This show is swiftly becoming one of my favourites, loving the new season lets hope it continues this way/
  • Its Christmas and we again see the main theme of the show take center stage. What we want against what is expected of us.

    The thme of the episode seemed to be the question summed up by the research doctor who nailed Don to a T. Advertising is what we want v. what is expected. We saw that play out in this episode.

    The episode starts out with Sally and Glenn (back from season 1) He is a verteran of divorce and gives Sally some advice. (ask for presents before kid #4 comes, and Your dad isn't coming back because your mom's doing it with another). What Sally wants is to leave the house where her daddy lived, and Glenn tries to make it happen with ransacking the place when they are gone.

    The theme hits again at the Christmas party, where the firm is strapped and they want a small party. That is ruined by the reappearance of Lee Garner Jr., their biggest client, who wants a big party Ad Men style. His want crashes up against the firm, and he wins as Sterling Cooper does wht is expected and fakes a huge party for their main client's benefit. Roger also gets humiliated into being Santa by Lee, who at first kids, then orders Roger to do it. They must do as expected and Lee knows it.

    In a surprise, Freddy Rumsen is back having a 2 million dollar offering of a Pond cold cream account to grease himself back into SCDP. He is sober now, but is still old fashion and sexist. Peggy, who loved him for getting her out of secretary hell, clashes with him because she now knows she is talented and she isn't the poodle she was.

    Peggy also faces what she wants v. wht is expected with her surprising milquetoast boyfriend,. She wants married but wants a career and she is playing Don games with her BF making up a story about virginity to cover her reluctance for sex. However, in the end, she sleeps with him, either because its expected or she takes Freddy's advice (but in an opposite way), Freddy tells her if she sleeps with him, he will not respect her. So she promptly does. I think he is a goner.

    What does Don want? He is becoming a drunk in self pity and takes his secretary for a tryst after the party. He bails out of a seminar with a research group as soon as he learned question 1 was decribe his father. He is rebelling and doing what he wants still. When the female researcher (who clearly looked interested) suggested he is a type, he promptly breaks one of his big rules by sleeping with his secretary.

    His secretary also got a taste of wants v. expectations, as she clearly is swoony over Don, but after their role in the hay, he put her in doing what is expected mode. He gave her her bonus, and the episode ended with her doing her typing, looking chrestfallen.

    All in all, a good episode as usual.
  • And the drama continues..

    Episode two of Mad Men came in on a Sunday night and did its thing. Sometimes we get what's going on, and sometimes we don't. Here we see a complete chaos theory of plots, and I really can't find an interpretation to piece them together.

    It's 4th season, and Matt Weiner has made it clear that Don is not going to get away with his trademark wam-bam-thank you-ma'm play call. Either he doesn't get women easily, or if he does he is going to regret getting them. That's precisely what happened this time. A next door neighbor flirts with Don, and she turns him down in his drunken stupor. An attractive and educated women turn down Don's offer for dinner. And in his misery he finally finds his vulnerable secretary who is ready to fulfill his manly necessities.

    Roger Sterling's storyline was pretty interesting this time around. Clearly, he was biting his lip to play Santa in the Christmas party. And clearly, Lee's taunts were pretty obvious. But somehow, Roger goes with it, just to save the one client who makes 99% of SCDP's business. Well you can compare and contrast that with Don, who is not willing to sacrifice even an ounce of his ego. And just as a footnote - it's only in Mad Men will you find a Christmas episode in August.

    The weird Glenn is back. And this time he is stalking Sally and not Betty. We've all waited for a rebellion from the younger crop of the cast. And Glenn's introduction will probably be square one. Mad Men is definitely picking up. Somehow, I feel this season will be drastically different from the rest. Maybe it's the fall of Don and the rise of Peggy. Maybe there is a death, maybe this is last season..we never know.
  • I think this was a great episode. It had three main themes which were dealt with in Mad Men's typical thought provoking style. I wont cover the whole episode and how it goes back and forth between the subplots but rather will deal with them one by one.

    First off, Don shows us once again how he is struggling with his break-up yet is in constant denial of his inner turmoil. He walks out of a psychology session arranged by the firm and avoids filling out a questionnaire in which he would have to disclose information about his past. He avoids his past just as he avoids all his problems in real life; as if somehow if he can't see his troubles, they don't exist. He is, as always, a whiz with the ladies and is constantly hit on by his sexy new neighbor. The psychologist hired by the firm finds him enchanting and intriguing as well but refrains from any flirting, rather she tells him he will be married in a year and that even though he won't like to admit it, eveyone including him is a particular 'type' of person. Don is drinking more and more and while inebriated, sleeps with his secretary and then brushes her aside the next day - typical Don Draper. The episode finishes with him walking away with a bunch of presents - the allegory here is great - he finishes by doing the two things he does best; getting the prize and walking away.

    The second theme concerns Peggy and her struggle with the old fashioned values that she feels are holding her back and stopping her from progressing in life. Her problem is that she wants to settle down and marry but also wants to be a succesful, strong career woman at the same time. Even though she always opposes old fashioned values and norms, she continuously shrugs off her boyfriend's sexual advances and falsely tells him that she is a virgin. She has a conversation with the newly returned Fred in which they discuss an ad campaign for Ponds cold cream and she tells him that they should focus on younger women and not with the older women holding on to their youth. She goes on about how women's only goal in life isn't to get someone to marry them, yet the ironic thing is she is lying just the same to impress her boyfriend. Realising this hypocrisy, she decides to sleep with him and from the look in her eyes realizes now he will never marry her.

    Finally, Roger Sterling is humiliated by the owner of Lucky Strike cigarettes - the major stake holder in their firm's future. Roger organises a lavish Christmas party for him, only to be told by the owner, Lee Garner Jr. to wear a Santa suit and set up a grotto - though Roger clearly shows that he doesn't want to and will look silly in front of his employees. Lee forces him to do it and also acts fresh with his wife all the while finding time to make fun of his old age and health. I feel bad for Roger, but I guess we all have to swallow our pride now and then and please the boss - an undeniable fact of life.

    A smaller subplot worth mentioning is the budding romance between Sally (Don's daughter) and her neighbor Glen. I think it's really cute and refreshing and let's see where it heads as the season progresses; let's just hope Glen doesn't vandalize anything or use any violence to impress her like he does in this episode in the future.

    Till next time. Adios amigos.

  • Playing Santa has never been so demeaning

    This show has a habit of being unrelenting, and this is no exception. I thought "The Office" had the corner on Christmas Office Parties from Hell, but this takes the cake. Why? Because once again, we see how the theme of the series is reflected in the consequences borne by Don and those around him.

    Don is a complete mess. While he has recast his legend in the public eye, his personal identity is in tatters. Don was never the most sober individual (they are rare in the world of "Mad Men"), but one can count the moments of Don Draper sobriety on one hand. Most of the time, he is staggering home, barely able to leer at the ridiculously hot neighbor.

    He would have been better off choosing her as his plaything. This liaison with his secretary is going to make things a lot more uncomfortable for everyone. And that's on top of the tensions at the new agency, as the various players struggle with defining who they are and what they want. They are not all on the same page, and the growing pains of Sterling Cooper Draper Price promise to be ugly.

    While Don and Peggy had their struggles in this episode, I really felt bad for Roger. And that's saying something, as I usually enjoy watching the man get what he deserves. But as the agency put themselves in a hole to put on a display for their most important client, Roger was made the fool for the man's sport. It was humiliation stacked upon humiliation. It's the price to be paid when defining yourself and your business based on the desires of others, when they know how much you need them to survive.

    One last thought: Joan had a couple of lines in this episode that suggested her personal life has not improved. Considering how composed she is, and how well she manipulates public perception, I have a feeling her reality is going to be harsh when fully revealed.
  • "I don't hate Christmas, I just hate this Christmas," so says a depressed Don who seems to have lost his groove.

    I've actually enjoyed the season to date, though I know not everyone agrees. My favorite relationship has to be Peggy and Don--I think they really get one another and I love when they have a moment. Last night it was very touching when Don said, "Merry Christmas, sweetheart," and genuinely meant it. Especially in light of his less-than-stellar behavior with three other women: breezy neighbor; too-smart-for-her-own-good market analyst, and heartbreakingly trusting secretary (who, btw, gave an amazing performance revealing a range of emotions at the end of the episode). The Christmas party was a telling little get together. Did anyone notice how no one said "Merry Christmas" back to Peggy when she walked in and spoke to the group? Don at least acknowledges the boyfriend. In fact, I don't think a single person even spoke Peggy's name the whole episode. The boyfriend, sadly, if the worst offender of just not getting Peggy. He's like a younger version of Freddy who has a 1940s (1840s?) view of women . . . I mean did he even get the insult in assuming he'd be Peggy's first? A think Peggy is a perfect representation of "The Feminist Mystique" which was published early 1963 . . . I was hoping the writers would bring it up but thus far they have not.

    Loved Joan leading the bunny hop while wearing the dress Roger specifically requested!

    In the Draper--I mean Francis--household Sally has a secret admirer-creepy Glenn, who reminds me, oddly, of a talkative Boo Radley. Overall, I think the writers did a good job of showing adults acting like kids and kids acting like adults.
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