Following the daily routines, trials and tribulations of dispassionate advertising agent, Don Draper, Mad Menâ€™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 thereâ€™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 doesnâ€™t believe in love, so the surprise reveal that heâ€™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 thatâ€™s about itâ€¦no hook.
The introduction of Peggy, the audienceâ€™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, sheâ€™s easily the most relatable character thus far. Again, however, her storyline ambles where you expect it to, and while thereâ€™s opportunity to milk this angle and taint her reputation, itâ€™s wafer thin at best.
I guess my main gripe with this hour is that thereâ€™s no driving story, nothing connecting one character to the next, and perhaps thatâ€™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 canâ€™t wait to see more of her (therein lies my hook to watch the next episode). And I was so shocked to see Vincent (â€˜â€™Angelâ€™â€™) in this, his character is a far cry from Connor!
Overall, â€˜Smoking Gets in Your Eyesâ€™ is an efficacious pilot when it comes to introducing you into this hazy, smoke-filled world, but at present, thereâ€™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.