Tag: Sterling Cooper

Mad Men 3.11 – And Who Are YOU Supposed To Be?

First things first: my thanks to Bob Westal for ably filling my shoes last week while I was in the UK. Alas, I was so busy covering the press junket for “Pirate Radio” that I wasn’t able to hunt down the home office of Putnam, Powell, and Lowe. Oh, well, maybe next time…

Betty is packing her bags when the episode begins. Will it prove to be prophetic…? We’ll see, but it certainly doesn’t seem to bode well that A) she and the kids are heading off for a week at her dad’s old place, and B) her last moments with Don involve him…well, not so much lying to her face about his stash o’ cash as unabashedly avoiding giving an answer when she asks if he has any money lying around. But, even so, you can tell she’s still damned well pissed at him, and given all of the confusing information that she’s found out about him through the contents of the drawer, you can’t blame her.

We meet Annabelle Mathis, heiress to a fortune in dog food as a result of her husband’s unfortunately demise at the age of 51…and, boy, the look Roger cut to Don when he was lighting up just as Annabelle was revealing that her husband had died of lung cancer was priceless. Don’s given the opportunity to take a shot at the campaign (apparently, Sterling-Cooper used to have their business, but, per Bert Cooper, “Her father was a son of a bitch”), just so long as he follows two cardinal rules: don’t change the recipe and don’t change the name. What’s the connection between Roger and Annabelle? Well, there was clearly a relationship of some sort back in the day. At first, it sounded like an extra-martial affair, since she asked him if he’s still married, but it’s later revealed that their coupling was quite some time in the past…not that either one of them has forgotten it. It’s to Roger’s credit that, despite the amount of alcohol in his system, he still doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity for post-dinner entertainment that Annabelle offers him.

Speaking of Roger’s extra-marital affairs, Joan is trying to help her husband prepare for job interviews, and in the process, she learns that his father had a nervous breakdown. Somehow, that stands to reason. The next day, she decides to call Roger and, although she won’t ask him for her old job back, she’s not above asking him for assistance in finding a new gig. The two of them have a nice, flirtatious conversation that harks back to earlier seasons, making for one of the most pleasant scenes of the episode, and although it doesn’t entirely pay off for Joan yet, Roger does indeed start making calls on her behalf. Things don’t go nearly as well for Dr. Greg, however, who promptly does an emotional bellyflop during his interview, then comes home and takes his annoyance out on his wife. She, however, responds in turn, clocking him over the head with a vase and leaving him to pick up the resulting broken glass by his damned self. “Oh, shit,” indeed. You go, Joan. But by episode’s end, we’re left wondering if maybe she gave him a concussion, as he returns home to tell her that he’s joined the Army. Just the mention of Vietnam and the throwaway line when he references it, saying, “If that’s still going on…” is a sure sign that he’ll be going over there and probably never coming back.

The dog food test for Calcott Farms goes so horribly bad, with the participants immediately recognizing the name, that Don orders Peggy to turn it off, leading to one of the funniest lines in the episode: “I can’t turn it off. It’s actually happening!” And then…

Oh, but you don’t want to hear any more about this stuff, do you? Let’s get to the real meat and potatoes of the episode: Don and Betty.

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Mad Men 3.1 – On your mark, get set, get out of town

Welcome back to the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency…and, yet, although this is the premiere of the third season of “Mad Men,” it’s actually the first time that Premium Hollywood has gotten around to blogging the series. It’s certainly not that we haven’t been watching (the series did, after all, end Season 2 at the top of Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings), but…well, the reasons why we haven’t done it before now are moot. We’re here now, so let’s get cracking, shall we?

I have to admit: the opening flashback sequence left me uncertain at first, and I wasn’t entirely sure if we were supposed to infer if it was Don’s own birth or not, but, yes, it does indeed appear that not only does Don have someone else’s identity, but it’s highly possible that he’s never really known who he was. Well, that would make it easier to escape into someone else’s life. As it turns out, not nearly as much time has passed as we might have expected: Betty is still in the final stages of the pregnancy we learned about in the season finale, so we haven’t even moved forward nine months. As ever, though, series creator Matthew Weiner managed to tease us a little bit about the timeline by having us presume that Don was warming formula for the new baby when he was, in fact, just getting Betty a bit of warm milk to help her get to sleep.

Time to jump over to the offices of Sterling Cooper, where there’s clearly been a bit of a British invasion since we were last around. John Hooker could be an interesting character, given the way he’s carving his niche as an assistant rather than a secretary. Could a relationship with Joan be in the cards? Too soon to tell. Based on the comments around the office, some firings have clearly been taking place (clearly, it’s not the least bit coincidental that the conversations about job loss, medical insurance, and taxes echo just as strongly now as they did in the 1960s), but I can’t imagine any of the others have been nearly as entertaining as Burt Peterson’s. It’s always good to see Michael Gaston’s face – I still think of him as Gray Anderson from “Jericho” – and he made a great explosive show of Burt’s departure. Burt’s screaming behind the closed door of his office was hilarious, but I think the biggest laugh came from Roger Sterling’s late arrival to Burt’s farewell. (“Oh, it’s that meeting.”) By the way, after all of the intense discussion last season over the meaning of the painting in Bertram Cooper’s office, I enjoyed a chuckle when Cooper’s premiere appearance involved a discussion about new pieces of artwork.

Vincent Kartheiser never fails to impress me with his work as Pete Campbell, running through the gamut of emotions this episode. First, he’s scared shitless that he’s destined to suffer the same fate as Burt, only to have his nervous twitching turn into a full fledged dance of glee when he gets the news that he’s being given the title of Head of Accounts. Then, when he learns that Ken has gotten the same news and that the higher-ups are basically playing the two of them against each other, he develops a stone face that would put the heads on Mount Rushmore to shame. And just as you think he’s going to go whine to Don (as he’s already done to his wife), he’s put in a situation where he has a chance to toady up to both Sterling and Cooper simultaneously, which you can bet he takes advantage of. You probably wouldn’t want to watch an entire series revolving around Pete, but for my money, he’s arguably an even more deep and complex character than Don is. I know Kartheiser has gotten recognition through the Screen Actors Guild, but it’d be nice if the Emmys threw a little love his way next year.

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