Monday, June 11, 2012

Mad Men Season 5 Report Card

Uneveness characterized Mad Men season 5.  The season started very slowly but then about mid-season things heated up and reached a dramatic high when Joan agreed to sleep with a client for a partnership and Lane hung himself (not because of Joan but he surely would have benfited from some practical pillow talk with her).  But the season ended with a whimper, not a bang.  For the second year in a row, here are my grades for Mad Men's characters (not the actors playing them):

Honor Roll
  • Lane Pryce:  A (last season  -- A).  Lane embezzled company funds to cover a personal cash flow problem.  How we rooted for it all to work out for him even though he was a cheat and a philanderer.  That shows a lot about the rich complexity of his character.  In the end, he hung himself.  We'll miss his dry-witted Pryce-lines that rolled off his tongue so effortlessly.

Teacher's Pets
  • Roger Sterling:  B+ (last season -- A-).  Roger took LSD and then he tuned in, turned on but didn't drop out (at least not in this season).  He split from wife #2, got fellated in an empty ballroom at an industry awards dinner, and drank with impunity.  He had the best lines of any character but the non-stop boozing in the office made him seem like a Madison Ave. version of Dean Martin and at times the character drifted into ugly cariciture.
  • Marie Calvet:  B.  The Quebec cougar.  She's both hot and ice cold.  The introduction of her character added a rich dimension to the mostly boring domestic scenes at the Draper household. 
  • Pete Campbell:  B (last season -- B).  He became more snake-like than ever but he's growing very quickly as a ruthless businessman.  If I'm starting a business, I want Pete Campbell on my team.  (He's a lousy boxer, though)  The way he pimped out Joan was masterfully done.  He made us cringe but we couldn't stop watching him.  Points added for his doomed, sordid affair with crazy Beth.  Points detracted for being so unlikeable. 
  • Beth Dawes:  B.  Our favorite desperate housewife.  The character could have been fleshed out a little more, but we liked what we saw.
  • Howard Dawes:  B.  He gives life insurance salesmen a bad name.  (Wait a minute....they already have bad name.)  He was a one-dimensional slime ball but you couldn't take your eyes off the screen when Howard Dawes was in a scene.  You know something bad would happen or would be said. 
  • Peggy Olson:  B- (last season -- B).  Days of whine and roses for Peggy.  She found love but she seemed to be sucking a lemon for most of the season.  Yeah, Don ragged on her but she wasn't exactly Miss Congenitality.  Good career growth and she embodies certain aspects of the women's movement of the 60s.  If she could only learn to stroke her clients the way she strokes strange men in a movie theater....
  • Joan Harris:  B- (last season -- B).  She had a baby, which is now a very minor plot point.  Her marriage collapsed.  She slept with a client to become a partner.. Yes....a lot of interesting things happened to the Joan Harris character.  But some how she seemed less interesting this season.

Average Joe's

  • Don Draper:  C (last season -- A+).  This season, Don was like Zorro without a sword. Megan manipulated him.  He lost his office mojo.  His kids became a hassle.  His in-laws annoyed him.  Work was routine.  He became so....what's the phrase? the resut of us.  It's hard to think of any great scenes he had this year (and that includes the drinking scene with Joan). 
  • Harry Coooper, Ken Cosgrove, Bert Cooper.  C (last season -- C).  Supporting players who move the plot forward efficiently.
  • Stan the Art Director:  C (last season -- D).  Not as annoying as last year.  They should develop him better next year.  I think there's a good back story waiting to be told.
  • Megan Draper:  C- (last season -- B-).  It felt like there was too much emphasis on Megan this season.  Her leap to copywriter happened too quickly.  The show bogged down when it focused on her issues. 
  • Sally Draper:  C- (last season -- C).  Most of her scenes fell flat.  I predict a much bigger role for her next season.  She will blossom into a screwed up, beautiful teenage girl -- the product of a broken marriage -- smack dab in the middle of the 60s. 

Remedial Readers
  • Glen Bishop:  D (last season -- F).  Poorly written character.  We're not sure what to make of him as some type of puppy love interest of Sally's.
  • Michael Ginsberg:  F.  What was the inspiration for this annoying, cliched character?  He seemed like he was plucked from cast of "Fiddler on the Roof."  He added very little to Season 5.  I pray that Y&R offers him a great copywriting job in episode 1 of Season 6.
  • Betty Francis.  We saw her very briefly in just a few episodes.  She was overweight and we were underwhelmed.  We didn't miss her this year.
  • Henry Francis.  Did he even show up?
  • Duck.  Bring him back.
  • Freddie.  He made a brief appearance advising Peggy on her career move and it moved the needle.  Let's hope he's got more lines next year. 

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