Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mad Men Episode #5 (Season 4): The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

Why Mad Men Episode # 5 Worked:
  • The opening partners meeting about the dilemma of representing a Japanese auto manufacturer (this was only two decades after the end of WWII). The writers got the tone down perfectly and the scene wasn't too long or short.
  • The very subtle scene where Don's neighbor/nurse/potential lust interest asks Don where he was taking date that evening. The answer: Benihana! Excellent. That was probably the swankest joint in Manhattan in 1965. This series gets those details soooooooo right.
  • Betty slapping Sally for cutting her hair. That woke up the usually sleepy and depressing scenes featuring Betty. She is sooooooooo out of control.
  • Pete's showdown with Roger on the Honda vs Lucky Strike accounts. It felt like you were watching an actual confrontation at an ad agency between two executives.
  • Don's phone fight with Betty. Another short, pitch-perfect piece of dialogue.
  • The scene to create a fake Honda tv commercial featuring the intercutting with scenes from the rival ad agency. Clever!
Why Mad Men Episode # 5 Didn't Work:
  • Sally's scene with the babysitter after she cut her hair. Fell flat.
  • Scene with Betty and the shrink. Too inconclusive. (And I'm not a fan of most of Betty's scenes.)
  • Roger's scenes. I usually his biggest fan. His scenes in this episode felt overwritten. At first I thought it was clever how he insulted the Japanese ("I know how some people loves surprises," he sniffed in a veiled reference to Pearl Harbor.) But it kept going on and on. And his apology was not realistic.
  • The running gag with the incompetent secretary. Went too far.
  • Lane's congratulatory scene with Don after they won the Honda account. I had to look at the scene twice (thank you DVR!) to be certain that they won the account. Every now and then Mad Men lapses with some weak expository writing. But I did like Lane's description of a Honda: "a motorcycle with doors." And that's exactly what they were in 1965
Overall Grade for Mad Men Episode 5 (Season 4)
  • B. Overall nice job. Good plotting. But some scenes could have been tighter.

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