MAD MEN 4.11: Chinese Wall

Lucky Strike’s defection threatened to tamp out SCDP itself! The perception that the agency was hemorrhaging accounts had other clients wary of the blood in the water.

Roger’s (John Slattery) deception certainly did not help. After wrangling a 30-day delay in the announcement from Lee Garner Jr., Roger did not spend his time beating the bushes for new clients. Rather, he… well, who knows what he did? In fact, who knows what he ever does — other than take three-martini lunches and chase after Joan (Christina Hendricks).
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MAD MEN 4.10: Hands and Knees

This episode was about the past catching up with you; chickens coming home to roost; reaping what ye sow – and any other clichés you care to mention about consequences and responsibilities. In this case, the causes were Don’t secret identity, Joan and Roger’s recent tryst, Roger coasting at work, and Lane’s marriage collapsing. They were facing the prospects of being suitably humbled; getting on their knees or holding out their hands to beg forgiveness. Actions have consequences, even for the great Don Draper. Perhaps especially for the great Don Draper Dick Whitman.

Joan (Christina Hendricks) told Roger (John Slattery) she’s late, and Greg has been gone for seven weeks, so “it” has to be Roger’s. And there’s no way she can go to her regular OB-GYN. Luckily, Roger knew a doctor, who was (slightly) less judgmental but still accused him of “ruining her”) and begrudgingly referred them to a clinic doctor who does abortions. Joan said she’ll “take care of it.” At the clinic, she encountered a mom whose 17-year-old daughter was having a procedure. The woman was devastated, and Joan (perhaps out of sympathy more than mere embarrassment) pretended to be there with a 15-year-old daughter. I suppose that was a sort of atonement, accepting social blame, but it seemed like Joan was dodging admitting she was the one who “got in trouble.”
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MAD MEN 4.9: The Beautiful Girls

This week’s MAD MEN was all about the ladies, and the myriad ways these diverse females – from daughter Sally to colleague Peggy to lover Faye to crusty matron Miss Blankenship – find to vex Don.

Nothing like a little roll in the hay, and Don (Jon Hamm) and Faye (Cara Buono) wreck his place – or at least a lamp. Unbelievably, he has to leave to meet officials from a laxative company. She prefers to keep her afternoon confidential, suggesting building a “Chinese wall.” (That means she wants to maintain a strict separation between their fiefdoms.
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MAD MEN 4.8: The Summer Man

Is Don getting a clue? This week he seemed intent on cleaning up his act in general, and sobering up in particular. He even started keeping a journal. I immediately wondered if this was part of some organized get-sober campaign, but perhaps he was inspired by discovering that Roger is writing a book. Anyway, as Don struggled to redefine his place in the world, Joan tried to hold on to spot in the SCDP hierarchy.

Don (Jon Hamm) wrote his journal longhand because typing felt like work (Don’t I know it, brother!). “Gain a modicum of control over the way I feel. I wanna wake up.” One of his first observations: They say as soon as you have to cut down on drinking, you have a drinking problem. As I have been noting all season, he certainly has been losing his touch. Throughout the episode, Don was aware of people drinking casually at the office; aware of the bottles on his sideboard. He tried to resist with coffee. It seems that he also began swimming, at the New York Athletic Club (a real place; an uncle of mine used to work there), but he was coughing after swimming just one pool length. Undaunted, he fired up a smoke the second he stepped outside the building. And since this is 1965, waiting until he was out of the building was actually a remarkable act of restraint.
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MAD MEN 4.7: The Suitcase

Powered by knockout performances from Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss, this episode was a sterling example of why MAD MEN is the reigning champion when it comes to heavyweight TV drama.

Stephanie (Caity Lotz) called and left a message for Don (Hamm), but he didn’t call her back, because he knew it was going to be bad news about Anna (Melinda Page Hamilton). Don started the episode concerned about the about the Samsonite campaign. He rejected a proposed Joe Namath endorsement from Peggy (Moss), Joey (Matthew Long), Danny (Danny Strong) and Stanley (Jay R. Ferguson) because, “endorsements are lazy.”
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MAD MEN 4.6: Waldorf Stories

On the night that MAD MEN won its third consecutive Emmy as outstanding drama series, the episode dealt with Don winning a Cleo award for his Glow Coat campaign — and celebrating just a little too hard.

Don (Jon Hamm) and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) began by interviewing Danny (Danny Strong, “superstar” Jonathan from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), a punk with no resume, no skill (all his ads were variations “The cure for the common…”) and no prospects — except that he’s Jane’s cousin, which put Roger (John Slattery) in his corner. When Don laughed about how unqualified the kid was, it prompted Roger to flash back to his first meeting with Don. Roger was buying a fur coat for Joan (Christina Hendricks) at a place called Heller’s, and Don was the salesman! Don also handled the advertising for the shop, and wanted to get in the game for real. Roger was dismissive, so Don slipped his portfolio into the box. Roger was disgusted when he found it.
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MAD MEN 4.5: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

In an episode that hinged on preconceptions, prejudices, stigmas and more World War II references than you can cram into an expense account, Don pinned the agency’s future on a “Crazy Ivan” wildcard maneuver straight out of a Tom Clancy movie.

The first moment Don (Jon Hamm) realized he had a challenger came when a New York Times reporter asked him for a comment about his self-anointed rival named Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) who claimed to be constantly in Don’s rearview. “Never heard of him,” Don sniffed. At the ensuing partners’ meeting, Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) announced he had an inside track on Japanese motorcycle maker Honda – which held over 50 percent of the U.S. market. But Roger (John Slattery) put his foot down, refusing to do business with Pete’s “new yellow buddies.” Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) of all people, tried to remind Roger that the war was over, but Roger stormed out. Don wanted to pursue Honda, and Bert advised keeping Roger out of the loop.
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MAD MEN 4.4: The Rejected

This week’s MAD MEN was all about keeping one’s eyes on the prize, whether it’s a fat corporate account or a little tiny baby. Basically, it addressed what men and especially women want — or, rather, what they wanted back in 1965.

One could be forgiven for forgetting that Pete is part of the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce operation, but Mr. Campbell came back back with a vengeance this week, and it was acceptable. Or, rather, Mmm-mmm good!
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MAD MEN 4.3: The Good News

Well, I know which episode of MAD MEN I would submit for the Emmys this year: In one episode viewers have seen a Best Drama nominee, as well as Jon Hamm’s lead actor reel.

However, before delving into what was so great about the episode, I have to address MAD MEN’s big screw-up! At last, we have found the chink in MAD MEN’s much-vaunted period-research armor: kaiju eiga, or Japanese giant monster movies! Late in the episode, the drunken and stoned Don and Lane decide to take in a movie, and after passing up such cinema treasures as Zorba the Greek and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, they end up watching Gamera. Well, sort of. The problem was, the movie was not released in America until Dec. 15, 1966 — in a vastly edited form and under the new title Gammera the Invincible (Yes, they added an M to his name!). So whether the guys were in the theater in the last days of 1964, or the dawn of 1965, they were still nearly two years early for the feature presentation.
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MAD MEN 4.2: Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Continuing its tour of the holidays, this week’s MAD MEN leaped directly from last week’s Thanksgiving to Christmas – which is not really a good thing in my book, because I am not a fan of holiday-themed shows out of season. I hate seeing Christmas in August; it may not be fair, but that’s how it is with me. (My blog, my rules.)

Having noted that handicap, I rather enjoyed the episode. Perhaps it was due to the fact that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and company were pretty much anything but jolly. In fact, Don has rarely seemed as dark as he did this week. Despite kicking off with Sally’s (somewhat cynical) letter to Santa, this episode was about Christmas for grownups. After his assistant, Allison (Alexa Alemanni), read him Sally’s wish list, Don peeled off a stack of cheddar and sent Allison to buy his children’s love fulfill their holiday dreams. Oh, and he promised there would be a little something extra in Allison’s pay envelope at the end of the year, too. (Will there ever…as we shall see.)
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