Monday, August 2, 2010

Episode #2: Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Why Mad Men Episode #2 Worked
• The early scene in Don’s office where his secretary Allison was reading him his child’s letter to Santa. Surprisingly poignant. Good acting by Jon Hamm, who said very little, but the expressions on his face carried the scene. And good intimacy with his Allison, that paid off well later in the episode.
• Freddie, the alcoholic ex-account executive showing up in Roger’s office…and offering him the Ponds cold cream account. Felt real. And I loved how a real Ponds soap ad ran later in the episode….great product integration and virtually DVR proof (I watched the ad on my DVR).
• The meeting in the conference room with the Motivational Research Group, especially when Don bolts the meeting (don’t we all wish we could leave meetings like that?). Perhaps Don will become involved with the blonde executive in the knockout dress (paging Grace Kelly).
• All Freddie’s scenes with Peggy. The tension feels real and Freddie’s view of women is so prehistoric. At first, I wanted to like Freddie but these scenes fascinated and creeped me out.
• Roger’s amazing conversation with Joan about increasing the Christmas budget party, especially his references to her smashing red dress of Christmas past (King Leer surfaces again).
• Don at his apartment after the Christmas party. What a pathetic wreck of a man. His appalling seduction of Allison the secretary chilled me.
• Roger being forced to wear the Santa Claus outfit at the Christmas party by the Lucky Strike client. Just awful. That was paid off the next day this exchange between Don and Roger. Don: “Did you enjoy the Fuehrer’s birthday?” Roger: “May he live for 1,000 years?”
• Don giving his secretary her $100 bonus…the day after he seduced her in his apartment. Made her seem like a prostitute.

Why Mad Men Episode #3 Didn’t Work
• Don’s scene with the nurse in the hallway of his apartment building. She was too open in her interest for him to make the scene believeable.

Overall Mad Men Episode #3 Grade
• A-. Virtually every scene worked. The characters are smart, flawed and almost completely believable.

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