TV Recap: Mad Men, “A Little Kiss”
I remember just two or so years ago when I spent a period of a couple weeks gorging on what was a backlog of three seasons of this show and continually flogging myself for opting out of this fantastic piece of retro chic television. In the last year I’ve seen Pan Am and The Playboy Club both find it very difficult to pick up at Mad Men’s coat tails to try and do what this show does and does looking almost effortlessly.
We return to Madison Avenue in the year 1966 and like all season premieres you have to keep on your toes to catch on to all the changes that have occurred during our time away from the advertising world. Here’re some of the changes I noted in the first few moments of the show:
- Don Draper is now married to the former secretary, now creative employee, Megan.
- Joan isn’t in office and things seem a bit off.
- Civil rights movement is starting to show up on the front steps of advertising offices (I can’t remember if it was ever as prevalent as it was in this episode).
- Betty is as absent as she ever was with Don hosting his children for the weekend and not even coming out to meet them as they’re returned home late at night.
This week on Mad Men we have an aspiring treat. As it’s been almost a full 18 months since we last sat down to swig a scotch and water with the likes of Roger and Don the creator, Matthew Weiner, thought it best to appease the rabid fanbase by having us enjoy a ninety-minute long episode jam packed with plot for almost every character the show can afford time to.
Don and Megan, enjoying the odd balance of a new marriage and still being work colleagues has their fair share of issues. Megan begins a day waking up in Don’s bed and continues it alongside Peggy in the creative department under Don’s thumb. So when this week she decides to throw Don a surprise birthday party – he’s 40 – we get more than our fair share of surprises.
Joan is still home, along with her mother, nursing her newborn son with her doctor husband still off in the war. She’s at her wits end dealing with motherhood and at the same time dealing with her mother. She, while being the coolest professional lady in the 60s, is as neurotic and susceptible as any young adult.
Roger Sterling (aka. Roger vs. Pete) is coming to terms with his own age now. He’s been able to coax by in the world of advertising mainly due to his networking skills. Something lovely about the world of this show is that while these people we may see putting in long hours day after day we hardly ever would call what they do work. We like to kid that these men hang around drink and joke all day but there’s something to how they go about what they do, and this is showing in Sterling’s latest uselessness.
With last season’s client shuffle and the seeming archaic nature of Sterling his style over substance one act show is starting to become a problem that no one but Pete has noticed just yet. We see throughout the episode Sterling just hanging around the office, like a stand by comedian waiting for the perfect moment to strike with a quip that will knock you off your feet, but at the same time make you wonder why he’s not being productive.
Pete finally verbalizes his challenge to the other’s over Sterling’s utility as an asset to the company by making a move for his office and while possibly going at it the wrong way (as Pete’s problem has always been) he does make a point. After four years of Pete aiming for Don, he’s finally come to respect him somewhat (while still loathing his style) and has redirected that same determined mentality to Sterling it seems. I’m sure I’m going to enjoy the games that Pete will play with him – as we see the beginnings of it with Pete scheduling fake meetings at 6AM for Sterling to crash unexpectedly.
The automatic highlight of the episode is The Party that Megan throws for Don. Not only does it hand us an opportunity to see how Don handles it when he doesn’t get his way and see his reaction to this with Megan (as opposed to previous seasons with his handling of Betty), but we’re also treated to this glorious piece of television:
I don’t know about you all but I’m going to have this video on my phone running on repeat for at least a few days.
A few minor plot-lines:
The episode opens at the offices of Young & Rubicam where a group of African-Americans are protesting for equal employment opportunities. The employees of Young & Rubicam (Y&R) thought it would be a good idea to start hurling “water bombs” at the protesters. When this infantile act splashes back at them (almost immediately) Don and the clan decide to mock them openly by putting out a ad in the paper for “Equal opportunity employment” at their firm. While this makes them laugh for the moment it kicks off a few minor glitches in the end: (1) Joan seeing the ad gets worried that they’re attempting to replace her since she’s been on leave from work; (2) Not all of the clan is happy with the joke causing a few ruffled feathers; and (3) they may actually need to hire someone after the episode ends with a lobby filled with African-Americans looking for work, which would be easy enough if they had any extra cash to hire a new employee of any kind.
The wallet: midway through the episode Lane finds a wallet in a taxi. He decides the best thing to do is take the wallet and return it himself, as opposed to letting the taxi company handle it (slight hint that he didn’t trust the African-American driver). During the search for the owner he finds a revealing photograph of the owner’s girlfriend and seems to get a bit riled up after an interesting conversation on the phone with said girlfriend.
Peggy’s work on Heinz Beans, as brilliant an idea as it is, didn’t quite pay off which continues to show her frustration in work. She’s aggravated at the lack of support from Don for some reason claiming that something about Don has changed and hinting that Megan may be the catalyst for said change. I’m not quite sold on this idea but more may be to come as the season wears on for this thought.
Favourite Lines from the Show:
“Did you buy him a pony?” Bert Cooper
“There’re all great girls; at least until they want something” Roger Sterling
Roger: “Why don’t you sing like that?” Jane: “Why don’t you look like him?”