Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mad Men Episode #13 (Season 4): Tomorrowland

Why Mad Men Episode #13 (Season 4) Worked:
  • Don's engagement to Megan. It was crazy, stupid, impulsive....but it was really a concrete manifestation of how Don's descent. Sure....who wouldn't fall in love at night on a terrace overlooking a moonlit-drenched ocean with a swan in a knockout black dress (on $70 a week salary....who's her daddy)? The engagement announcement scene in the office was priceless: so many nutty things happen in the personal lives of senior management that this seemed ok to staff. When Don breaks the news to the partners and says Megan's full name, Roger blurts out, "Who the hell is that?" Very funny, because it reveals how he knows so little about the junior people at the agency. Even funnier is when Roger follows up with the line, "This calls for a drink....Megan, get some ice." A beat, and then he cracks a smile.
  • Peggy's heart-to-heart with Joan after the engagement announcement.
  • Don's cringe-worthy call to Faye after the engagement is announced. Well written....another scene that felt real. And kudos to the fine acting by Jon Hamm and Cara Buono (who I've basically trashed all season).
  • Don's drinks with Betty in their old kitchen. Very poignant. You could see why they married. I love him finding the old bottle hidden in the back of the cabinet. I loved it even more when Don and Betty left the room and the camera held on the bottle like it was a character in the series. Which seems only right since booze plays such a strong role in Mad Men.
  • The pitch to the stuffy board of the American Cancer Society. That felt exactly right and it was nice to see Don creating his magic as only Don can.
  • Joan's promotion to Director of Agency Operations...but not with a raise. Once again, she gets screwed by a senior executive at the agency.
  • Betty firing Carla. January Jones (Betty) finally gets to act a bit more this season. She's not just spreading her wings, she's climbing on her broomstick and playing the role of resident wingnut witch.
  • Henry's fight with Betty about Carla. There's a nice foundation being laid to have Henry bolt in Season 5.
  • Megan and her friend going to the Whiskey A Go Go. That was the hip place to be seen back in the day. (But who was playing at the club that night?)
  • Don's LA threads. Very cool and James Bond. Do you think we'll see him in bell bottoms next season?
  • Joan's pregnancy. That was slipped in almost casually. There's surely a bullet in Nam heading for hubby but will Roger then step in? Stay tuned for season 5.
  • Megan's dresses. Stunning.

Why Mad Men Episode #13 (Season 4) Didn't Work:

  • All of Glen's scenes. The kid can't act.
  • Don taking Megan to Los Angeles without any kind of pushback from anyone in the office and not an eyebrow raised. Seems like there could have been a 15-second scene written in.

Overall Grade for Mad Men Episode #13 (Season 4):

  • B+. While I'm generally positive on the plot development of Don proposing to Megan, I thought it felt a little out of left field for me. I would have liked to have seen a bit more scenes leading up to it. That prevented me from giving this episode an "A."

Later in the week I'll give my grades to the main characters of Mad Men Season #4.

1 comment:

  1. Howard--this was such a well written, funny, + thoughtful review. I loved the way this season ended, and my favorite scenes were Peggy & Joan having cigarettes in Joan's office, making their cynical comments; and Don + Betty in the garage. That scene was so well done. It was a great season-- I missed all Betty's outfits, but loved the focus on the details of the new agency, and Don's life as a bachelor (not that different from his life as a married man, really).