Mad Men 4.2 – A Glass of Gin, A Box of Velveeta

I’d like to start this week’s “Mad Men” blog out with an apology: I’m out at the TCA Press Tour in Los Angeles (as you probably already know if you’ve been reading Premium Hollywood this week), and I’ve been at the mercy of my schedule, which has been decidedly hectic. I was sent an advance screener of the episode…more about that in just a moment…but since it was mailed to my home, I wasn’t able to watch it until my wife, God bless her, brought it to me when she flew in from Norfolk, VA, late Friday night. I was finally able to watch it on Saturday afternoon, taking notes as I did so, but then I had to find time to actually compose the blog entry…and, well, here it is 11:57 PM PST, and I’m only just now getting the opportunity to do so.

Yeah, it’s been that kind of week…and I think it’s probably going to show in the blog, so let me go ahead and apologize for that up front.

Of course, I guess I should just be happy that I had an advance screener, since lord knows I won’t be getting any more this season…and nor, for that matter, will anyone else. When my wife handed me Episode 4.2 upon her arrival, it was folded inside a piece of paper which read as follows:

July 26, 2010

Dear friend:

With a new season of “Mad Men” underway, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your incredible and unprecedented support of the series since its debut four seasons ago. I’ve enjoyed our relationship over the years and your insightful reviews and features.

It has been a privilege to be associated with such an extraordinary group of actors, crew, craftsmen and executives – all of whom are committed to the care of our show.

As we provide you a with a copy of our second episode (airing August 1), we wanted to make you aware of a new development in terms of our DVD distribution moving forward.

In an effort to avoid inevitable spoilers and preserve the experience of watching live for our fans, we have chosen to make this the last review copy we send out.

We ask that in the weeks ahead you continue to write on the progression of our show, and I look forward to your thoughts and commentary along the way.

Here’s to an amazing season.

With sincere thanks,

Matthew Weiner

This is, one can reasonably presume, the direct result of Weiner’s annoyance with The New York Times over their piece which was written in advance of the premiere and offered up ostensible spoilers, and I can feel the man’s pain, but, man, I am just not a happy camper about this situation. I mean, God love you, Matthew, but you try having to stay up late on a Sunday night to blog a show…or, worse, two shows, since Alan Ball fucked me over by declaring a moratorium on “True Blood” screeners, too.

I never spoiled nothing for nobody, and this is the thanks I get…?

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Mad Men 4.1 – Ladies and Gentlemen, The Scrappy Upstarts!

“Who is Don Draper?”

Those are the first words we hear when “Mad Men” returns for its fourth season, but it’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard the question asked. This time, though, it’s coming from a journalist who’s interviewing Don and trying to wrap his head around his subject. The question, as you would expect, thoroughly flummoxes Don, but he recovers nicely, turning his instinctual expression of concern about the query into one of mild annoyance, then firing back, “What do men say when you ask that?” As it turns out, he actually is kind of annoyed by the question, though it quickly becomes evident that it’s mostly because he just plain doesn’t like talking about himself. He’s not used to being on a firing line like this one, and if he had his way, he’d clearly avoid it altogether. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be an option in this new scenario in which he finds himself. The members of this new firm have to promote both the company and themselves…and, yes, that includes you, too, Don.

In a moment of perfect timing, the interview wraps up just as Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell walk up to the table. Pete’s clearly just as obsequious as ever (“We’re grateful for your sacrifice”), and Roger, it seems, has been spending some time on a book. His memoirs…? He doesn’t clarify. He does, however, offer up a trademark zinger within the first three minutes of the episode, so it’s clear that this is, at least to a certain extent, the same old Sterling that we left at the end of Season 3. It does appear that he may be drinking a bit more, however. This is a slightly impressive accomplishment, given that his alcohol intake was rather heroic to begin with, but it’s never a good thing to use booze as a crutch, so I’d expect that we’ll see more of this development sooner than later. Is Roger on track to become this year’s Freddie Rumsen?

Don, Roger, and Pete meet with a new client: Jantzen, who – according to the stats they cite during the meeting – maintain 25% of the bathing suit market. They’ve got some concerns that need addressing, and once again, we see Don’s limited tolerance for current goings-on. You know, when a client says, “I’m getting tired of saying this today,” you’d think most people would have the tact not to respond, “Next time, just have one meeting.” They also probably wouldn’t openly mock the client’s delicate sensibilities and their position that the inherent sexiness of a bikini is somehow diminished if you simply refer to it as a two-piece bathing suit. But, then, Don didn’t get where he is in the ad game by keeping his opinions to himself, now, did he?

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