Mad Men

Season 1 Episode 1

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Jul 19, 2007 on AMC

Episode Fan Reviews (13)

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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.
  • 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.
  • *** 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.
  • 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.
  • A lesser person would be offended by this show

    I was very quickly engaged in this show the dialouge is sharp and convincing and I did not doubt for one second what I was seeing was anything other than 1960's new york.

    There is nothing likable about any of the characters they all have pretty major flaws but this is not a bad thing they are caught in the mindset of the time and this is realistic plus I do not feel like I'm supposed to like them or feel like I would want to be friends with them; I am intrigued by them. The men at the ad agency are racist mysogonists and this includes the main character. When asked did they hire any jews at the firm he repliled "not on my watch". There is clearly more to Don Draper though, he has a Purple Heart stashed away in his drawer so he clearly fought in WWII and with some honour. After he was rude to the female departmant store owner then he met up with her and appologised and charmed her and it was here that I though that he redeemed himself. Yet, at the beginning of the episode he was shown to be involved with one woman and there is even talk of marrage, by the end of the episode Don arrives home and it revealed he is married with children. Don is not the worst character though that title belongs to Pete a particularly odious little swine who saw it fit to sleep with the new very nieve seceratary Peggy right before he is about to be married. Gripping stuff..
  • Mad Men begins.

    It seems like so long ago but it was but a year that Mad Men hit the airwaves for the first time. The show has taken the world by storm garnering record Emmy nominations and wins and being mentioned on shows that have much larger audiences. And it all started with this episode.

    The pace was like nothing ever seen before. Slow, extremely slow, and it left the viewer restless at first but after a while they realized that they were watching the beginning of something remarkable. A cast that perfectly fits each character and will be hard for these actors to shake the stigma of these roles off once the show ends and just brilliantly executed dialogue that keeps you on the edge of your seat without the need of a gunshot or massive cliffhanger.

    Mad Men's pilot episode changed the way the TV world operates and for that it was successful.
  • Since BBC Four starting promoting "Mad Men" back in January 2008, I have gradually become more and more excited about the show. Then I watched it.

    Before I begin let me get one thing straight: I realise that this is the Pilot episode of the series and so may not be an accurate reflection on what is to come. Many great series like Heroes, Seinfeld and Cheers had terrible first outings but have gradually become some of my favourite shows.

    AMC's first primetime TV series certainly does not live up to the massive hype that occured both in the US and here in Blighty: judging from the promos I'd see I imagined this to be a slick representation of a 1960s ad company struggling to encourage people to "enjoy their smokes". And in one respect it is, the writers have tapped in 1960s life and brought out some of the stereoptypes that existed back then. They have abolished the age-old saying of "it was a simpler time".

    This first episode seemed to drag on a bit for my liking, there were many moments when I wanted to scream "get on with it!" and many storylines seemed tacked on for the sake of it. Also, I know this is the 1960s and "girls" are the "eye candy" for the men of the office, but would Peggy really sleep with the office jerk after he'd been insanely rude to her just a few hours earlier?

    I intend to stick with this show and watch the next few episodes (mainly because I have recordered them onto a DVD-R and so I can't use the disc again after this!) and see where this show goes. However I sincerely hope that the writers and producers go in a different direction than what was achieved in this first episode.
  • Introdution to the ad-agency culture, 60's style.

    This show is an introduction to Mad Men. Don Draper the ad agency creative director needs to hold snare the tobacco account. There is Joan the bombshell secretary showing the ropes to naive Peggy. Of course every man is hitting on this "New girl."

    There is plenty of conflict within the show. DOn has to figure out what to do keep this ad. His boss needs to keep the reins free but their noses to the grindstone. Peggy wonders if she's supposed to flirt with the boss or just the other boys around the office.

    There is sex and intrigue in this show. And it's a microcosm of 60'soffice culture. Episode 1 just layed the groundwork.

    Make yourself an old-fashioned and sit down and enjoy.
  • What was the hype for?

    Okay, I have been hearing about this series from a lot of TV critics. Missed it first time it came out. Saw that AMC would be re-running the series from the beginning and thought, 'great chance to see this critically acclaimed show!'

    Now I am just wondering what the hype was all about? I watched the first episode and it just did not grab me. Lots of boorish behavior. Lots of frankly immoral behavior. And for what? I do not see the silver lining in the cloud. I am going to give it a few more episodes to see if it improves. But if it doesn't, this tell me a lot more about the state of television criticism than anything else.
  • Why do I want to watch recreations of sexism and other offensive acts? Give me insightful commentary on the advertising world.

    I thought this might be a clever skewering of the advertising world today... but it is more of a period piece.
    I'm not sure why I want to see a period piece about the 50's. Yes I know women... sorry, I mean GIRLS were mere "secretaries" and sexual objects at work. I know the people in power were hetero Christian Caucasian males who were racist, sexist, anti-semitic, you name it.
    Why would I want to watch that?
    Sadly much of that is still around today .. so it's not something that I want to spend my free, non-work time watching. I'll try it again to see if it will improve. maybe if they treat other products outside of the obvious lies of the tobacco industry. Hopefully they'll focus more on ads and less on the people's intimate lives (esp. before we even know or care about them.)

    P.S. I'm not saying people didn't have pre-marital sex in the 50's or that the office "girls" didn't sleep with their "superiors" - - but would the "homely" girl really go get "the Pill" and sleep with the office jerk on the SAME DAY?? (she's wearing the same outfit and they're at the stripper event discussed earlier in the day.)
  • Don Draper, the director of an Ad Agency, is nervous about a meeting with the Tobacco company for an important account.

    Well let's start with the positives: The acting was decent and the show does at least make the timeplace of the 50's, 60's believable.

    On the downside, however, the idea for the show is long past it's time. It's 2007, do we really need a show in the 60's about a manipulative ad agency? No. By now every American knows how the advertising business works, it's built on false happiness, lies, power and an image so making a series about it seems quite ho-hum.

    The characters while believable for the time period are nonetheless unappealing and uninteresting. There's the nerdy new secretary who everyone gives a hard time to, there's the happy go lucky creep (Mr. Campbell) whose getting married but feels the need to have a one night stand before getting hitched....then there's Draper himself, the workhalic ad director whose a hypocrite.

    It's hilarious to see him underestimate the power and importance a woman can have in the business then later try to wine and dine her.

    Then of course, in the first episode since this episode had to do with Draper making an account with Tobacco business we get the Tobacco in it's full crappy glory (represented by an old man full of himself together with a goofy young executive).

    "We're selling America"!!!! says the Tobacco Agency. Anyways, all of these information and storylines about the ad business has been represented many, many times in tv shows and movies so to me the series seems to be a waste of time to devote any time to.

    If it does end up being like "The Sopranos" then it might have promise but so far everything I've seen is something I've already seen so many times before.
  • It's Madison Ave. in 1960 when men were men, women were harassed and smoking was good, as the ad agency Sterling Cooper take their message to post-war America.

    A good period television show is a rare thing. If the pilot of Mad Men is any indication, this one's going to be a good one, indeed. The premise is simple: we experience life in a New York ad agency by following two characters. The first is Senior Account Executive Don Draper. Clean cut, square jawed, and handsome, he is the epitome of the male of the species living the Playboy Philosophy on the cusp of the 60's. The second is junior secretary Peggy Olsen, fresh from secretarial school and innocent of face, we soon learn hers is an innocence that may hide naivete, or something more cunning. Surrounding our two leads are a collection of junior executives with more sass and vinegar than sense, convinced the advertising world is their oyster, and a collection of women determined to hook one of the men who surround them by any means necessary, including tolerating unrelenting sexual harassment. It's a world of narrow ties, nosecone bras, blatant anti-Semitism, sharply defined gender roles and hard drinking, all seen through a cloud of cigarette smoke. The male characters we meet are predictably male: they smoke, they drink, and women are their toys, to use, discard and judge. Given how comparatively short a distance men have traveled since the sixties, their conduct is discomfiting, but still somewhat familiar, a grosser version of behavior still seen all too often today. More intriguing, and surprising is the dynamic among the women, who seem to not only accept the harassment as part and parcel of life in the office, but in fact, pander to it. As is seen in curvaceous office manager Joan's advice that Peggy evaluate her assets with a bag over her head, it was a tacit understanding among these women that they were there for one reason: pursuit of the male of the species. The subtleties of female aggression are explored, too, in a simple scene where Peggy must bring gifts to the telephone operators, who leave her in no doubt the power to make her or break her they wield: power politics of a very different kind than that practiced by the men they both serve and pursue.

    In 1960, the cigarette was king, but the crown weighed heavy as the dangers of smoking were becoming increasingly hard to deny. For Don, the challenge was simple: combat a recent Reader's Digest article regarding the health hazards of smoking and design a new ad campaign for an unfiltered cigarette. And Don is stumped, until blind inspiration comes from an off-handed description of how tobacco is processed, made by a cigarette company executive (played effectively by John Cullum, in a one-scene appearance.) This is a show not about the grind of making advertising happen, but about Madison Ave. magic. Less magical, however, is Don's interaction with Rachel Menken, owner of Menken's Department store, an upscale "Jewish" store in a slump. We anticipate Don's anti-Semitism will flavor the meeting with Rachel, but when Rachel dismisses Don's trite strategies for marketing to housewives (a coupon and a spot ad on a family comedy,) we discover what really threatens Don is a smart, independent woman who not only wants to do business on level ground, but doesn't see the need to have a man help her do it. I found myself wondering just how much of Don's seeming prejudice is a survival strategy; he says what he must to survive. And survival would seem to be key in the cutthroat world of advertising. We see that again and again, whether it be the Italian stallion tactics used by the clearly gay junior executive Salvatore, or the misdirect and conquer advertising Don proposes to the cigarette company. Everyone we meet seems to be clinging to something by their fingernails and hanging on for dear life. It's a brutal world these men and women inhabit. In the end, though, it's the women who intrigued me the most, and it's they, along with the very effective Don Draper, who will keep me coming back for more.
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