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'Mad Men' review: A little more groovy, a little less margarine, please

By Kathleen Edgecomb and Marisa Nadolny

Publication: theday.com

Published May 13. 2013 1:00PM   Updated May 13. 2013 2:19PM

Special K,

So here we are, back in craptastic mode at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce + CGC. Just when we thought everybody might be the professionals we know they can be, we've got firings, drunken meetings, cysts and Peggy feeling like a second-class citizen again.

Mocking me as I ponder these big changes at the agency is that closing song "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend & Lover: "I think it's so groovy now/That people are finally getting together/I thinks it's wonderful and how/That people are finally getting together."

It is neither groovy nor wonderful at SCDP. And now Bobby Kennedy is dead. One odd reaction from me: The news film they showed of RFK on the ground after he was shot struck me as quite graphic. Apparently I'm not as jaded as I thought.

How are you feeling?

Luv,

M.

***

Dear Luv,

I think Don is reaching out into the darkness ... and what is he going to find?

He was as scummy as they come last night. Telling the Mrs. Doc to crawl on her hands and knees to find his shoes? I got a chill. As crappy as he's been to women, I never thought he was scary until that scene.

"It's over when I say it's over." Yikes

But he's losing control and he knows it. When Mrs. Doc says, "It means it's time to really go home,'' with just a slight change in his expression, you could see Don become that scared little boy we see in flashbacks. The whole Don storyline was chilling. We're watching someone slowly break down. What the hell is going to happen to him?

-K.

***

Mdme. K,

OK, I just got a chill reading your description of Don-nie Darko, as it were. I was wondering if he’d found an early, early, early version of “50 Shades” or something…

But yeah I couldn’t quite place what it was I saw on his face that whole episode, but you’re right: it was a ghoulish mask covering what’s cracking beneath, like something out of Shakespeare. Maybe Betty’s got a cauldron going back at the Bates Motel…

So, I take it that you’re on the same page as Peggy, then? It was fabulous to watch Elisabeth Moss reveal that aspect of Peggy: calm, controlled, cool, and NOT rattled by Don (as easily). Perhaps time and distance have given her the appropriate perspective on her former mentor. We’ll have to wait and see if she actually CARES about Don’s descent into schmo-dom. She’s put up with plenty of his shenanigans (remember the barf-fest in the office bathroom? All the inappropriate dressing-downs?) so I don’t know if I could hold it against her if she doesn’t care and takes advantage of the situation.

And why did she get the office with the column in it??

Cheers,

M.

***

Well Miss M,

Didn't notice the pole in Peggy's office, wish I had. I needed a laugh. Actually I did laugh in the beginning when Pete was without a chair during the first partners meeting and Ted eventually shuffles off to sit on the credenza and Roger says, "Now that we've dispensed with the gallantry..."

But then it all went dark. Don's losing control and he knows it:

--He's sweating in the airplane while Ted maneuvers through a storm to get above the clouds and realizes Ted is the star because he was the one who flew the plane to the client. And Ted, BTW, looked pretty cool in those aviator glasses and leather bomber jacket.

--The only way to get to Ted is to get him drunk.

--Peggy tells him "move forward."

-- Begging Mrs. Doc not to end it ...a groveling Don???

--And his pitch for margarine is a surreal breakfast at the farm with chemical butter melting on stack of pancakes.

He is soooooo losing it.

***

KE,

I must say I enjoyed the hell out of Ace Pilot: Ted. That was a nice recovery on his part.

It seemed to me last night that the CGC transplants are helping us to see the SCDP through a less smoky, not as booze-sticky lens. Ted, Peggy, and the Super Secretary all experienced moments of “the hell is going on here?” as they took in their new workplace environment. How cute was Ted when he went into the meeting to start his “rap session about margarine.” He might as well have said “C’mon gang! Let’s do some writing! Sharing is caring!” So encouraging, so sober, so on time to the damn meeting. CGC peeps are there to work; Team SDCP is either: 1. hungover; 2. in Detroit; 3. getting divorced; 4. suicidal. Even ever-pro Joan wasn’t at the top of her game, no thanks to that cyst (which struck me as a tad random, but whatever…)

All of which = depressing. Even the book Sylvia is reading is depressing. “The Last Picture Show”? really Sylvia? Think that’s a good choice of reading material mid-divorce/bad romance? Perhaps she’ll pick up “The Bell Jar” next…

Thank god for the Twittersphere, which was very comforting for its “Peggy leans in” riffs (after telling Don to “move forward”) and the slew of anti-Pete notes. The best tweet ever, though, was probably this gem from @TVWithoutPity, which references "Game of Thrones" AND "Mad Men" in one funny shot:

“Forget about the damn chair, Pete Campbell. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is. http://ht.ly/kYjXB #madmen”

All this coupled with the Chevy Vega situation? I’m not sure I can handle more bummers.

Sulkily,

M.

***

Dear M,

Twitter does bring another element into watching a show, doesn't it?

Couldn't see what Sylvia was reading so that was a good catch on your part. Really, Depressing.

And in addition to Joan's cyst, we saw how office guy can be charming? — and effective? — when he needs to be. I can't believe that nurse bought his story about all he needed was some nursing advice ... really?

And what about Pete's mother? I think she had one of the most true lines of the night. After she saw on TV that someone shot "that poor Kennedy boy." "They're shooting everyone," she said, which at the time, I think a lot of people were thinking the same thing.

One thing I liked, Ted matching up all the margarine/butter products to characters on Gilligan's Island. Mr. Howell/Imperial margarine, ha. MaryAnn/Blue Bonnet ... haha. The only character without a product was the professor. Hahaha!

-K.

***

Dear K,

I stalked the book cover on Twitter because I’m too frigging near-sighted to see anything that small, even on a large screen. Sigh…There’s a great Twitter feed, @BoweryBoys, that posts a lot of historical stuff about the "Mad Men" era, or era-specific items mentioned in the show.

I’m so glad you brought up Bob Benson. After yesterday’s episode, I finally know his name. Interesting, no? Once again he was Johnny on the Spot and for some reason it worked this time. Maybe because the crew’s just so beaten down at the moment? Do you think he was sincere in helping out Joan, or, as Joan noted, do you think he was just looking out for his job? Do you LOVE how Joan oh-so-casually saved his job? And did I hear correctly that pseudo-Peggy got the ax? Here’s hoping. There’s room for only one Queen of Copy, and long live Peggy! Hmmm, not very sisterly of me is that? Maybe I ought to read "Lean In" too...

Pete’s mother just made me sad. Actually, so did Pete. It has to be insanely frustrating to, having lost a few, still have some marbles and not have anyone take you seriously any longer. Mrs. Campbell is entirely infantilized and Pete is shaping up to be her Mommy Dearest-type caregiver. Gah! Dare I posit that Trudy will swoop in and save the day? Which would be far more than Pete deserves, but she’s just a stand-up gal, you know?

LOVED the “Gilligan’s Island” theory of advertising; Poor Don barely knew what Ted was talking about. I seriously think there’s something to Ted’s method, but, of course, the professor would never use margarine. Ewwww…

PS. Now I have the Blue Bonnet jingle in my head. Sigh… 

Luv,

M.

PPS. Quote of the night? Pete’s: “My mother can go to hell, and Ted Chaough can fly her there.”

***

 M,

"Everything's better, with Blue Bonnet on it..."

K.

We're on Twitter: @TheMDesk and @edgecombday.

 

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