Mad Men

Season 1 Episode 1

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Jul 19, 2007 on AMC
out of 10
User Rating
363 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

While Don struggles to control his problematic love life, he tries to keep the agency from losing a big tobacco account.

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  • Okay...

    I get to see what all the fuss is about ;-)

    After finishing Boardwalk Empire 3, I thought I move further in time and try Mad Men; heard a lot about it, mostly about the view on women the protagonists have and about how successful the show is. I was skeptical about the scene it's placed in and if that could interest me (after all, who likes advertisement?!)...

    My first thought: Impressing actors, noble look, and the events and developments of the first episodes caught me. So, I can understand why it's successful, and I'm curious about what's coming.moreless
  • 1x01 "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"

    Mad Men has a legacy, a big legacy. And now I can finally understand why. This show is magical, the script and the acting amazing. The characters are ok, maybe a little bit predictable, but this show is definitely worth a try.
  • A competent start.

    Following the daily routines, trials and tribulations of dispassionate advertising agent, Don Draper, Mad Men’s opening scene sets the tone quickly and effectively, with a thumping 60s soundtrack, impressive set-design and solid production values. It is a feast for the eyes and ears: visually as impressive as they come, the costume design and sets looking bang on, while the sparkling lingo and oddball phrases that were all the rage back then cements this time period perfectly. And yet, I could not help but feel this pilot was one big show-piece without very little telling. |

    Indeed, this is a character piece, however there’s very little here to propel you into the next episode. Don carries the majority of the episode, and the character goes through several arcs within the hour (an impressive feat); unfortunately, though, his stories, for the most part, are wrapped up nicely by the time the credits roll. We know he doesn’t believe in love, so the surprise reveal that he’s married and has two children packs less of a punch than intended. We know he has a follow up meeting with that woman he clearly has the hots for, but that’s about it…no hook.

    The introduction of Peggy, the audience’s gateway into this Mad World, is essential, and the writers do a great job of placing this character into the eye of the storm. Since Peggy is used to allow us to see this world through her eyes, she’s easily the most relatable character thus far. Again, however, her storyline ambles where you expect it to, and while there’s opportunity to milk this angle and taint her reputation, it’s wafer thin at best.

    I guess my main gripe with this hour is that there’s no driving story, nothing connecting one character to the next, and perhaps that’s the point of this series. Who knows? Pilots are often the shadow of what the series becomes, and critics seem to be foaming at the mouth over this show, so I expect intricate storylines in the near future. I absolutely love Christina Hendricks, so I can’t wait to see more of her (therein lies my hook to watch the next episode). And I was so shocked to see Vincent (‘’Angel’’) in this, his character is a far cry from Connor!

    Overall, ‘Smoking Gets in Your Eyes’ is an efficacious pilot when it comes to introducing you into this hazy, smoke-filled world, but at present, there’s nothing driving this episode into the next. This could have easily been a one-shot movie. Nevertheless, it looks the part, the cast surely act the part, and all it needs now is to mix it up. A competent start.moreless
  • *** Spoiler-free *** Interesting topics, impressive authenticity, convincing acting but conventional characters and predictable story

    After what I read about the show my expectations were quite high. In fact I was driven to Mad Men because of its creativity topic, praised historical authenticity and visual style, and convincing cast. The awards it won are definitely deserved but I didn't find what I was looking for. First it didn't blow me away and only reminded me of all these productions trying to reproduce what America was back in the 60s. There's nothing wrong with history, the contrary, but I didn't learn anything new about that period. Worst I couldn't relate to the characters and even if their superficial masks hide complex personalities none really intrigued me. The actor playing the protagonist is perfect in its role and its story could be captivating to follow but if you need something more than entertaining then it can only be disappointing. In fact I even found the story boring at times. More most behaviors are predictable and the worst is that it didn't inspire me at all. The new secretary who don't know the city and will be an easy prey for the men playing in the upper league. The powerful mistress, the loving wife, the sharks trying to seduce their boss to better make him fall… If you dig these profiles then you should be in your element but I wasn't. However the visuals are definitely impressive but sadly the pilot contents doesn't match their quality. I wished the story had focused more on the company's work than predictable conflicts and troubling relationships. Don't get me wrong Mad Men is a good show and definitely has potential, specially considering it has reached its third season, but it's just not what I was hoping for. Still covering controversial topics like smoking, health issues and creativity crisis are interesting so if I got my hand on the first season DVD maybe I would watch a few more episodes.moreless
  • Good start, but slow-paced.

    After hearing the topic of Mad Men supposedly being the greatest show on television, and critics and audiences alike beating that dead horse to a bloody pulp, I've decided to check it out. And the pilot shows that it certainly has a story to tell that's larger than just one episode.. or even one season.

    The best part? Definitely the acting, as well as writing. Both are top-notch and every character right away seems excited to establish their position within the confines of the show. Don Draper, played superbly by Jon Hamm, has a certain confidence about him that draws your attention to him. And I really like the setting of the show: the 60's, where everybody has a cigarette perched between their fingers like it's a missing body part, and the idea of coming up with ways to make people want to continue buying cigarettes.

    However, it's downside is its tendency to frequently dip into episode long lulls. Sometimes, barely anything will happen in an episode besides conversations between characters. You get the idea that Matthew Weiner and co. are setting people up for bigger and better things, but sometimes, it's excrutiatingly dull to sit through nearly 50 minutes of small-talk between employees of an advertising agency.

    Regardless, Mad Men seems to be a show that, as I mentioned before, gets its power from its combined efforts. Sure, episodes may drag, but when you look at them all as a whole, each is necessary to get to where Weiner wants us to go. A compelling show with great acting and writing.. but best show of the year? Uhh, I'm not sure.. ask me when I finish this season again. Because Breaking Bad, it's younger, more under-rated brother on AMC, has been giving it a run for its money.moreless
Bryan Batt

Bryan Batt


Guest Star

John Cullum

John Cullum

Lee Garner, Sr.

Guest Star

Darren Pettie

Darren Pettie

Lee Garner, Jr.

Guest Star

Rosemarie DeWitt

Rosemarie DeWitt

Midge Daniels

Recurring Role

John Slattery

John Slattery

Roger Sterling

Recurring Role

Julie McNiven

Julie McNiven


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (14)

    • Plates of shrimp cocktail can be seen on the table during Sterling, Draper, and Campbell's meeting with Rachel Menken. The ad men's ineptitude in relating to their Jewish client extends even to their non-kosher food selection.

    • Music: "Band of Gold" (Don Cherry,) "Caravan" (Gordon Jenkins,) "Shangri-La" (Robert Maxwell and His Orchestra,) "The Street Where You Live" (Vic Damone).

      The favored type of music for this era was called "Easy Listening." It featured orchestrations emphasizing string instruments, as well as the piano or the organ, and often had rhythms suitable for dancing. Among the best known artists of the era were Montovani, Ferrante and Teicher, The Living Strings, and of course, Lawrence Welk. There were some vocalists, such as Edie Gorme, Vic Damone and Andy Williams who fit the genre, but most vocals came from groups of singers who accompanied the orchestra, such as the Ray Conniff Singers.

      "The Street Where You Live" is from the musical My Fair Lady. In March, 1960, when this episode is set, My Fair Lady would have been entering its fourth year on Broadway, where it eventually ran for 2,717 performances, the longest running musical of its time. Use of this song is a reflection of the popularity of music coming from Broadway; film version would not be produced for another four years.

    • The program makes a small historical error in the scene where Peggy first sees her typewriter, an IBM Selectric II. The IBM Selectric Typewriter featuring a ball-element, that made the type bar and moving platen unnecessary was first released in 1961. The first Selectric II, which Joan assures Peggy is so easy a woman can use it, was not released until 1971. Later in the episode, Don comments about the availability of a "magic machine" that makes identical copies of documents. Although Xerox had released its first photocopier in late 1959, it probably would not have been widely available and probably not well known in March, 1960, when this episode is set.

      The bolded part needs to be taken out. When Don mentions the "magic machine", the writers were being ironic because he says, "It's not like there's some magic machine that makes identical copies of things." So, clearly, Don has no idea that Xerox exists yet, and there's no time period goof that needs mentioning here.

    • Peggy is given a prescription for the contraceptive Enovid by the doctor Joan refers her to in this episode. At the time, she would have needed to know a doctor willing to prescribe them for that purpose, for which they had not yet been approved. Birth control was a highly controversial subject at the time, and it was difficult for researchers to obtain funding needed to develop safe and effective methods of contraception.

      Enovid, developed by Searle Laboratories, was the first oral contraceptive approved by the FDA. In 1959, Enovid had been extensively tested as a birth control pill, but was only approved for relief of "menstrual disorders." Not surprisingly, by the end of the year over 1/2 million American women had 'developed' these disorders and were taking Enovid off-label for contraceptive purposes. Enovid was finally approved by the FDA as an oral contraceptive in May, 1960.

      The Pilot, when Peggy gets the prescription takes place in May 1960.

    • The heavy smoking seen in this episode is striking by today's standards, but appropriate to the period. Cigarette smoking, although common before the war, became widely accepted for both genders in the post-WWII era when millions of American men who learned to smoke courtesy of cigarettes placed in Red Cross care packages returned home. By the mid 50's, over half of all men and nearly 1/3 of women smoked, and there were few, if any restrictions on where they could do so.

      In the mid-50s, cigarette manufacturers were prohibited from making health claims, such as benefits to the figure advertised by L&M. By 1960, health warnings about the dangers of smoking had begun to circulate, most notably the Reader's Digest article "The Growing Horror of Lung Cancer", and nearly 7000 empirical articles linking smoking to a range of pulmonary diseases including cancer had been published in the medical literature, presenting advertisers with the problem we see Don tackle.

    • As the men enter the elevator, they all take their hats off. Men regularly took their hats off when they came indoors, but also when there was a woman in attendance. Either reason would've been appropriate for the time.

    • In the doctor's office scene, we see the doctor do a pelvic exam with no nurse in attendance. This is now standard operating procedure, but not as common at the time of this episode.

    • Don's office is shown to us and is clearly a corner office. The corner office is often the prime office space in a company. Most often, it's a bigger office with more windows for better views of the city, a perk for an executive.

    • Midge mentions that she's working on a newly invented "Grandmothers' Day" job. Actually, in 1978 President Carter designated Grandparents' Day to be celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day.

      This does, however, represent advertising's influence in promoting new holidays. The greeting card business is extremely profitable.

    • Menken's Department Store, for whom Sterling Cooper builds its poorly received ad campaign, is probably modeled on Bergdorf Goodman, a high-end New York department store facing a major slump as it entered the 1960's. The store, which marketed itself to wealthy New Yorkers, struggled through the 1960's and 70's until it reinvented itself in the mid-80's. Now owned by Neiman-Marcus, it remains open on New York's Fifth Ave. to this day.

    • Among the recommendations for advertising Menken's Department Store was a spot advertisement on the "Danny Thomas Show". "The Danny Thomas Show" (later "Make Room for Daddy") was one of a number of comedies focused on traditional middle-class family life popular in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Choice of that particular show, along with the use of in-store coupons, was part of Sterling Cooper's efforts to market the upscale store to the average housewife.

    • In several scenes, we hear Polynesian-themed music and see Polynesian motifs, most notably in the scene where Don meets Maggie for a drink. Following Hawaii's admission to the union in August, 1959, America's burgeoning post-war interest in Hawaiian music, food and drinks flourished and spread east. This led to the popularization of such iconic drinks as the mai-tai we see Maggie drinking, and the pu-pu platter carried by the waiter, as famous west-coast "tiki" bar/restaurants such as Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's saw tremendous growth in business, and numerous immitators.

    • Near the end of the episode, we see Don on a train going home. He disembarks at the Ossining, NY station. Typically, although young single men lived in Manhattan, married businessmen of this era worked in New York City, but lived in the suburbs of upstate New York or Connecticut, commuting to the city on the train.

    • In this pilot episode, the creator Matthew Weiner reinvents how the slogan for Lucky Strike cigarettes was invented. Originally, the slogan "It's Toasted" appeared in 1917, not in 1960.

  • QUOTES (7)

  • NOTES (8)

    • This episode won the 2008 DGA Award for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - Night".

    • This episode was included on the 2008 Emmy Awards 'For Your Consideration' DVD. The episode ended up being nominated for "Outstanding Cinematography For A One Hour Series", "Outstanding Costumes For A Series", "Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series", "Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series" and "Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-camera Series". It later won 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series, Outstanding Cinematography for a One-Hour Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

    • This episode was nominated for a 2008 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in Television: Short Form – Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement.

    • Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey signed on to be a major advertiser in the series. The drink will be incorporated by name in one episode and be seen in two others.

    • The show was originally pitched to HBO before it was picked up by AMC.

    • The majority of the work on this episode was done by Sopranos crew members, including Alan Taylor, cinematographer Phil Abraham, and producer Scott Hornbacher.

    • This episode was shot during Matthew Weiner's 3-month hiatus on the final season of The Sopranos.

    • The script of this episode, which Matthew Weiner wrote while on the writing staff of Becker, is what prompted David Chase to hire him for The Sopranos.


    • (Salvatore walks in while Don's flexing his muscles)
      Salvatore: Look at you, Gidget. Still trying to fill out that bikini?
      Don: Summer's coming.

      Frances "Gidget" Lawrence was a fictional character popular in the late 50's and early 60's. First introduced in a 1957 novel written by Frederick Kohner, Gidget and her faithful boyfriend Moondoggie were the embodiment of the southern California surf culture of the day. Gidget was first played on screen by Sandra Dee in 1959, but to most Americans, the seminal Gidget was Oscar-winner Sally Field, who played her in the 1965 television sitcom.

      The coil device Don was using was designed to develop men's pectoral muscles, but was also believed to increase women's bust size, thus the reference to "filling out that bikini." Even the bikini was still fairly novel at the time, it would reach fad proportion later in 1960 following the release of Brian Hyland's "Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka-dot Bikini."

    • (Salvatore's drawing for the pitch to the tobacco client)

      This is clearly intended to reflect the advertising campaign of Marlboro cigarette's, "The Marlboro Man." The popular "man's man/ladies' man" type of advertising was extremely successful.

    • The blonde stripper in the bachelor party scene is wearing a strapless, pink evening dress and long gloves. This look is very reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe's look singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend", in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

    • Joan: (as she tells Peggy how to negotiate the male/female relationships in the office) ...Of course, if you really make the right moves, you'll be out in the country and won't have to work at all.

      Although a very small percentage of young New York women of the 1950's aimed for education and a career, for most, marriage, a family and the home that came with it, was their principal goal. For some, generally those from at least an upper-middle class background, education was the way to meet the right guy, "earn a Mrs" and a get that house in the country. For less advantaged women, a job in a Manhattan office became their prime husband-hunting ground, where tactics varied from finding to trapping a husband by any means necessary.

    • Roger Sterling: Have we ever hired any Jews?
      Don Draper: Not on my watch.

      This exchange introduces the anti-Semitic practices of the New York advertisement business of the late 1950's. Far more overt and tacitly accepted by Jewish New Yorkers, the business world was actively anti-Semitic, as were hotels, mens clubs and other institutions frequented by upper-middle and upper-class New Yorkers. The suburbs were equally anti-Semitic, with "restricted" (i.e. Christian only) housing developments, country clubs and restaurants the norm in many of the bedroom communities in Connecticut and upstate New York.