Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mad Men Episodes #1 and 2 (Season 5): A Little Kiss

Why Mad Men Episodes #1 and 2 (Season 5) Worked:
  • All of Roger's scenes.  Nobody boozes and bullshits at a business lunch quite like Roger.  His heart-to-heart with Harry was heartless, slimey and vintage Roger but he knows how to get what he wants.
  • Joan gently applying lotion to her baby son's butt less than an inch from his testicles.  "That feels good," she purred. The not-so-subtle subtext:  Joan knows her way around a male's body!
  • Kenny and Pete discussing the rocky state of the agency while Pete's nose is bleeding.
  • Pete coming home to suburbia after a long and lousy day at the office....and then eating dry cereal from the box, the fruit of his success!
  • The clothes.  Megan's dazzled but I also liked Pete's wild checked jacket and Stan's Rayon shirts (or was it Banlon?)
  • Megan's surprise birthday party for Don.  Had overtones of "Laugh-In."  She stole the show with her song-and-dance number.
  • Pete's move to get Roger's office.
  • The failed Heinz pitch.  
  • Lane's steamy phone conversation with the woman about the found wallet.  I think we were witnessing the G-rated birth of phone sex. 
  • Some good small touches:  the Mets poster in Lane's office; Roger smoking his cigarette while holding the infant.  
  • The Dusty Springfield song to close the episode. 
Why Mad Men Episode #1 (Season 5) Didn't Work:
  • Don and Megan, especially in the office.  This relationship in the office is changing the texture of the show and not for the better.The scene where he asked her to unbutton her blouse in the office hopped the track.
  • Joan's motherhood.  Another new role that changed the  heart of the show.  We don't want to see her as a weepy, emotional new mother.  We want the take-charge woman who runs the agency.   
  • Megan stripping to her undergarments to clean the apartment.  No way!

Overall Grade for Mad Men Episode #1 (Season 5):
  • B.  Solid start to the new season.  Roger has never been better.  Pete's office plotting remains intriguing.  All the big issues of the 60s remain bubbling on the backburner and occasionally land front and center with a powerful impact.  Putting Megan back in the office especially as a copywriter creates tension at work but it's a risky move for the producers because it feels highly implausible.  And Joan as a new mother also doesn't hit the right notes. For the show to work in season 5, Don Draper and Joan have to be a more potent forces in the office.