Tag: Sal Romano

Mad Men 3.9 – L.S.M.F.T.

Well, I think it’s far to say that they had dirty dreams in the ’60s, based on what’s running through Betty’s mind when the phone rings and wakes her up…and when she’s holding the baby, no less. Turns out it’s Connie, calling for Don and trying to wrack his brain about a business decision. Whether or not it’s helpful for Connie isn’t immediately evident, but it prevents Don from getting back to sleep, leading him to a late-night drive and a close encounter with Sally’s teacher on a jog, eventually finding him heading to his office and crashing on the couch. Betty, meanwhile, tries to be a dutiful mother and see the kids off to the school, but when she’s given the opportunity to bail out and go to sleep, she does…but not before first composing a letter to Henry Francis, asking, “Does anyone else read this?” The answer: not if Betty’s going to be writing him.

The Lucky Strike ad campaign looked like it was going to result in Sal getting lucky, but after rejecting the drunken advances of Lee Garner, Jr., the company’s representative, he quickly found himself in a position where the guy wanted him off the project. It was such a surreal event for all parties concerned…Garner for having his advances shunned, Sal for getting hit on in the first place, and then Harry for getting the alcohol-fueled phone call from Garner…that it’s no wonder that the whole situation ended up completely FUBAR, but I have to admit that I didn’t expect it to truly end with Sal getting dismissed from Sterling-Cooper. My wife was particularly fascinated by the conversation between Don and Sal, specifically when Sal questioned the sort of reaction that would’ve occurred had it been a woman who had been hit on: “It would depend on who the woman was and what I knew about her.” It was harsh, but it’s not like we’re dealing with a world of H.R. interactions and constant lawsuits. We’re in Take-One-For-The-Team territory, and although you could see from Don’s reaction that his knowledge of Sal’s shenanigans doesn’t mean in any way that he approves of them, one must rise above and look at the business side of the situation…and the fact of the matter is that Lucky Strike is a big account, and Sal should’ve done anything to save it. Anything.

Aside from Sal’s storyline, this week was predominantly about two burgeoning relationships: the one between Betty and Henry, and the one between Don and…Connie? Yeah, it’s fair to say that, although Don’s obviously a smitten kitten when it comes to Sally’s teacher, the more important goings-on this week were between him and Mr. Hilton. It’s made imminently clear that it’s not exactly easy to have a normal sleeping schedule with you’re working with Connie, but it’s even harder to figure out where you stand with the man. The two of them shared several in-depth conversations over late night drinks (including the great moment when they’re enjoying a little bit of “hair tonic” from circa the Prohibition era), and Connie all but said that he viewed Don as being like a son, but by episode’s end, Connie seems furious at Don for being unable to read him like a book about this whole “Hiltons on the moon” concept. Between this incident and the Lucky Strike fiasco, then coming home to Betty being Betty, given what we know about Don, it’s only to be expected that he would be going out trolling for a little stress relief. Still, how about that pitiful excuse of claiming that Connie called, even though he knows full well that Betty would’ve heard the phone if he had? Man, Don’s just not even trying any more…

Meanwhile, Betty’s attempts at pursuing something with Henry didn’t exactly go as she’d planned. When it appeared that they’d be able to enjoy their handwritten communiques without prying eyes, she started to get excited, but then he tried to take it a step further by showing up at the Draper residence, and that completely freaked her out. (By the way, just how stupid does Betty think Carla is, anyway?) Still, after their subsequent phone call, she started to get excited again, only be totally let down when he bailed out on a campaign-related appearance and sent someone else in his stead. Clearly, this is a case where the man and the woman are approaching the situation from two completely different directions, but you can kind of understand her reaction of showing up at his office and throwing the locked box at him. And, hey, it did lead to a passionate kiss…well, you know, as passionate as an ice queen like Betty gets. But in the end, she backed away from the situation, and it looked for a moment like the relationship between Don and Sally’s teacher was traveling on a parallel track, but if you really thought it would end that way, then you’re just not giving the old Don Draper charm enough credit. Instead, he’s going back to school, and Betty…well, she’s back to dreaming the same dreams she was when the episode back.

A few random comments to close:

* Peggy teamed up with the two new guys to offer a possible Hilton campaign, but her new comrades in arms didn’t do her any favors, though at least part of that may have been due to Don’s lack of sleep. It did, however, result in at least one great line from Don toward the young buck with the highly accented speech: “Now that I can finally understand you, I’m less impressed with what you have to say.”

* I thought it was hilarious that Pete spent the entire scene on the set of the Lucky Strike commercial coughing up a lung from his attempt to smoke one of the client’s cigarettes.

* I loved that, when Don came home from having to back Sterling’s decision to fire Sal, he already had bottle and glass in hand before he answered Betty’s question, “How was your day?”

Mad Men 3.5 – You can’t kill an idea (updated)

First, I have to comment on the irony that real-life father Will Harris is busy documenting tonight’s season finale of “True Blood,” while non-family guy me gets to write-up the episode where Don and Betty Draper finally have their third child.

Of course, that’s only one of the key events on tonight’s show. We also witness a financial squeeze from the new British overlords of Sterling Cooper while a mercenary variation of civil rights awareness descends on Pete Campbell. Also, Herman “Duck” Phillips returns to attack from the outside and prompts some proactive behavior from cash-deficient Peggy Olson.

peggy-ep5

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“The Fog” opens as Don and the extremely pregnant Betty have a conference with Sally’s teacher prompted by a nasty fight with a schoolmate. Betty’s revelation of the sudden passing of Grandpa Gene last episode, however, causes the teacher to becomeĀ upset and cut the meeting short. She mentions, however, that the death might explain Sally’s unusual interest in the murder of African-American civil rights leader Medger Evers.

Things aren’t too smooth at work, either. Don walks in late to a meeting in which Sal Romano is being grilled about the details of his expense account on his and Don’s nearly fateful trip a couple of episodes back. When he realizes that British honcho Lane Pryce is going to be discussing excess spending on pencils, he leaves abruptly. Later, Pryce appears in his office and, after some brief snippiness, complains about people drinking at work — reasonable enough by today’s standards. Don responds that creative people tend to be nonproductive, until they are productive, which is equally reasonable to anyone who knows anything about creative people.

Don pours a couple of Scotches and suggests a more proactive stance towards making money by working with Bert Cooper and Roger Sterling, rather than harming morale by cutting back on expense accounts. The meeting ends on a surprisingly cordial note.

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Mad Men 3.4 – Rage Against The Machine

First off, my thanks to Bob Westal for quite capably filling in for me last week. It’s not that I couldn’t have blogged both “True Blood” and “Mad Men,” it’s just that I really, really didn’t want to, so I greatly appreciated his assistance…and I hope he didn’t hate it so much that he’s considering backing out of doing the same thing next week while I’m tackling the “True Blood” season finale.

Wow, remember the good ol’ days when kids could get away with taking the wheel for awhile while their dad…or, in this case, their granddad…was sitting in the passenger seat? Actually, even *I* don’t remember the days when kids were doing it quite that young. Maybe it’s just because we lived in a pretty heavily populated area, but while I remember sitting in my father’s lap and handling the steering wheel, I don’t think he trusted me to drive like that on a public street until I was, like, 14. Maybe we can chalk it up to Gene’s increasing senility…? I spent the first part of the episode convinced that Gene was going to suddenly snap and scream at Sally, “You took my five dollars, you little shit,” but when he sat down with Betty to discuss his funeral arrangements, I sensed that we’d see them put into action sooner than later…and, of course, I was right. (As far as the disposition of his worldly goods, wow, isn’t it amazing how much has changed since the ’60s when it comes to the importance of fur as a status symbol?) If Gene had to depart the “Mad Man” universe, at least he got a lot of love in his final few episodes. This week’s tense discussion between him and Don over the merits of war was one of the moments which makes you nod as you take in the similarities to today’s world, though you rarely hear anyone today dismiss a suggestion that war might be bad by replying, “Maybe, but it makes a man out of you.” That whole sequence was great, particularly Jon Hamm’s acting with his eyebrows as Don listened to Gene giving Bobby a lesson on how to cut open a box properly, but, damn, I wanted to hear the story about how Gene got that fan!

Gene and Sally continued their bonding sessions – last week, it was The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; this week, it was ice cream – and grew closer, but as soon as he made that comment about the chocolate tasting like oranges, I immediately thought, “Uh-oh, that ain’t a good sign,” and promptly Googled the symptom. As a result, I was horrified…much as I suspect the rest of the viewing audience was…that we were going to see Gene suddenly slump against the wheel while driving his grandchildren to school. Thankfully, he at least made it to the A&P before he had his stroke or seizure or whatever it was that claimed his life. After the episode was over, I said to my wife, “You know, even in the ’60s, I just can’t believe that someone would arrive at the house and present the news to a very pregnant woman like Betty without first having her sit down.” She felt otherwise, suggesting that tact wasn’t necessarily first and foremost on the minds of those folks back then, but I’m still skeptical. Even so, however, the imagery of poor little Sally, sobbing against the front door in her ballerina outfit, was heartbreaking…even if it quickly slipped into annoyance at Betty. Seriously, is she the worst mother on this show…?

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