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M A D  M E N: Episode by Episode (Discussion and Review Guide) M A D  M E N: Episode by Episode (Discussion and Review Guide)

07-07-2009 , 08:49 PM
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I thought it was so funny when after Betty got into her little car accident and she is all worried about the kids while they're in the back seat laughing about it. So true to life.
Also the kid climbing back and forth from the backseat to the front repeatedly in the pre-seatbelt days. I was about the same age as the son is back then and I can tell you there is a lot of realism here.
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07-08-2009 , 09:44 PM
i really like the monologue in ep1 he makes in the bar to the jewish lady.
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07-08-2009 , 11:56 PM
What timing! I just discovered that Comcast is showing Season One OnDemand (under "Top Picks"), and watched the first two episodes last night, with at least two more on tap tonight.

My favorite line so far, from Episode Two: "He's young, handsome, a navy hero--you shouldn't have any trouble convincing America that Dick Nixon should be President."

I really love the culture shock thing (fat strippers with pasties, dry cleaning bags as toys, all the smoking, blatant sexism, etc).

"Costumes" and "set design" are two things for which I have never before praised a tv show, but they are constantly knocking my socks off.

One similarity this show shares with The Sopranos--at least, after two episodes--is that the men seemingly have no redeeming values. They feel a responsibility to take care of their families, and that's it! They use everyone with whom they come into contact, they cheat on their spouses, they will cut a throat in order to advance their careers. They might be funny and manly, and we might like hanging around with them, but deep down, they're scumbags.
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07-09-2009 , 12:45 AM
Don Draper isn't a scumbag.
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07-09-2009 , 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by kioshk
Don Draper isn't a scumbag.
Again, I've only seen two eps (and didn't get around to watching any more tonight, as planned), so maybe I don't have enough info.

But so far, he's got a goomah, he's in bed with Big Tobacco, and he's prying into his wife's medical affairs, while being totally indifferent to her emotional state. He has no use for women or Jews, and it's killing him to suck up to the retail heiress. There are plenty of nights where he doesn't come home at all.

He seemed to do the decent thing when he deflected his new secretary's clumsy advance. That's it, that's the entire list of times I've seen him choose to do the right thing.

That's all moot, though, if you've watched two seasons compared to me and my two episodes, and if you know a lot that I don't.
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07-09-2009 , 06:41 AM
Yes, I've watched every episode. But even in the pilot, look at how Draper treats Peggy. Pete's a scumbag in every possible way, and Don dresses him down and treats Peggy with dignity. Draper treats the old black waiter with respect and dignity, about which I've already posted. Within the confines of the era, Draper is a moral person, even in the pilot.

The selling of tobacco would be the open question. Draper smokes himself. This is a gray area, but not a scumbag area.
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07-09-2009 , 08:42 AM
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One similarity this show shares with The Sopranos--at least, after two episodes--is that the men seemingly have no redeeming values.
The creator of Madmen (Matthew Weiner) was a writer and producer on the Sopranos (HBO turned Madmen down!!!!). So there is the same creative background fueling this show.

Draper is a scumbag. Yes he is an advertising genius and does have some redeeming qualities and makes "some" positive moral choices. He has no respect for his wife, children or family (brother hasn't appeared yet).
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07-09-2009 , 05:38 PM
Here is how I see the character of Don Draper:

He is an "idea" man in that he is able to follow the humanitarian ideals of treating women and other minorities with some dignity and respect because they are strangers and at a distance from him.

However, anybody who gets close to him - as seen especially in his relationships with women - he can't seem to give the same level of courtesy....and I think that this is directly due to the fact that he doesn't realize and isn't aware of how his actions directly affect other's behaviors and responses to him. Everything seems to be more of their own problem rather than a problem, directly or indirectly, caused by him.
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07-10-2009 , 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbyHorse
He is an "idea" man in that he is able to follow the humanitarian ideals of treating women and other minorities with some dignity and respect because they are strangers and at a distance from him.
I agree with this. Combine that with the fact that he's living in 1960, and this makes Don Draper a very special person, and not at all a scumbag.

Draper had it rough early, and he's working through some things with no map or guidance whatsoever. He is an existential man acting in good faith.
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07-10-2009 , 03:23 AM
I just watched the first 2 episodes this week. tbh for how hyped up it is, I was kinda dissapointed.
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07-10-2009 , 05:00 AM
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I agree with this. Combine that with the fact that he's living in 1960, and this makes Don Draper a very special person
???? Because he isn't blatently racist or sexist (because he fends off one sexual advance we will see he doesn't fend off others in the future) makes him special? The guy is good at his job but not even mediocre as a family man. He had it rough coming up? So did lots of folks. The guy isn't special he is morally reprehensible.
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07-11-2009 , 03:55 AM
C'mon, Don Draper is no monster. He treats his children very well, because he identifies with his children.

He doesn't treat his wife well, yes. He has no idea how to relate to her. Every day is a new day for Draper, and he does what he can with what he has.
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07-11-2009 , 04:16 AM
Hang on to that avatar for a while, kioshk. I like it.

"No doubt about it--I've got to get another hat!"
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07-11-2009 , 04:19 AM
heh, loved that show.

"This time for sure!"
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07-11-2009 , 07:45 AM
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C'mon, Don Draper is no monster.
I guess "no monster" from "very special person" is progress The guy is no saint. He ignores his children. He constantly cheats on his wife. He uses his family as props in his professional life. His brother, well we'll get into that when we get to those episodes.

Just because he is the "star" and focal point of the show does not make him a hero or "good guy". There are plenty of dents in his armor. Part of what makes the show so good is that he is so conflicted.
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07-12-2009 , 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by GiantWalleye
I just watched the first 2 episodes this week. tbh for how hyped up it is, I was kinda dissapointed.
Hey GW - would you mind saying a little more about why you were disappointed? (Promise not to argue with you about it. )

I"m just curious about what you expected it to be like - more fast paced? More action? More conflict?
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07-14-2009 , 07:33 PM
It's coming...



I am never going to make it to Season 3 before it premieres...
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07-19-2009 , 09:15 PM
Season 1: Episode 3 - The Marriage of Figaro

I love this episode. In fact, I am fairly certain that this is my favorite episode of Season 1 (though I reserve the right to change my mind later ). The re-introduction and further development of one of my favorite guest characters: the smart, bold, and lovely Rachel Menken (played by Maggie Siff).



This entire episode revolves around the issue of the question of identity and how does one define themselves...or do other people do it for you. It opens with the intriguing scene of Don Draper being addressed as "Dick Whitman" by a strange man on the train. And Don answers to this name and seems to have shared a past history with the guy...and then the whole thing is dropped for rest of the episode. Such a climactic and intriguing question has been created in the mind of the viewer: who in the hell is Dick Whitman/Don Draper? Don't leave your poor audience in suspense this way, Mad Men!

Pete Campbell returns from his wet n' wild honeymoon in Niagara Falls to find...a family of "Chinamen" having taken over his office. I'm not really sure about the overtones to this "practical joke" - were the 1960s a time when there was a great influx of Chinese immigrants in New York City as a whole? There are a lot of additional mentions and references in this episode that establish the time period of the series in addition to the racist jokes about the "Chinamen" and the Jews...the Volkswagen "Lemon" ads...and the scandal over D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover. I laughed when one of the women was warning Peggy not to read it on the train because it could attract the wrong kind of attention (I'm paraphrasing). I kept thinking of how I see people watching porn on their ipods on the subway now...oh, the times have changed.

Girly moment: My gawd, I love the pink furry hat they have Rachel Menken wearing in her scene at Stirling Cooper. It looks like a pink halo swirling around her head. Couldn't find a good picture of it but it is to die for. /girly moment.

The character of Rachel Menken is fascinating. She is obviously an extreme oddity in her time as a woman with power and obvious business smarts. But she definitely doesn't give off a "bitchy" vibe...she is just focused on her goal of transforming her father's store and won't let anyone blow smoke up her ass. She calls them out for not having visited her store...and none of the men know exactly how to deal with her. Except Don, who flirts with her so charmingly...sigh.

OK, I'm being as idiotic as Rachel who doesn't fall for any of the lies from Stirling Cooper but yet is still overcome by Don's charm. She gives him those medieval knight cuff links, presumably for his gallant actions and attitude toward her. And then, after she pours out her heart and reveals her lonely childhood to him while they're visiting the store's guard dogs on the roof, Don kisses her...and then tells her he's married. Argh...perfidious males are timeless, aren't they? I love how Rachel calls Don out for his leading her own - while not excusing herself from blame either. She has integrity as well as smarts...what a woman! (Clearly, I have no bias.)

(Also, I'd be curious to get a male reaction to the Don Draper/Rachel Menken scenes from this episode...do you get the sense that Draper actually likes her or it's more the "attractive woman must chase" impulse in him? I can't ever make up my mind whether I think he ever actually loves her or she just always represents something that he can't have...and don't we all really want what we can't have?)

Second half of the episode deals with Sally's birthday party that Betty is pretty much putting on herself (with the bare minimum of assistance from Don). Betty has prepared the food and decorated and Don gets drunk and mopes throughout the entire party. It did make me laugh how Don kept drinking more and more beer as he's trying in vain to put Sally's playhouse together...damn kits were no easier to put together back then as they are now. Ikea, you can kiss it...I didn't even really want a stinkin' desk. I prefer my makeshift piles-of-laminated-wood-plant-stand anyway.

It was simply fascinating to me how the "divorced woman" Helen Bishop is treated at this birthday party by the males and females. The women view her as such an extreme threat and they were interrogating her about everything in that scene in the kitchen - it was so ridiculous. The wives seem so convinced that Helen will be out to steal their husbands...when in reality, it was one of the husbands who was chasing after Helen (without any invitation from her). I guess at that point in time there was no real place for a "divorced woman" in the social sphere...she had to be fit into some pre-designated slot and since she was no longer a wife, she automatically became a "slut" (at least that was the impression I was getting from this scene). And of course, in the subtle irony at the end, Helen Bishop is the one who graciously "saves" the birthday party by bringing over her frozen Sara Lee cake once Don has gone MIA with the cake....even after, the women were very catty toward her and the men were rude. So much for 1960s socializing.

I loved how they used the scene where Don is filming the silent home movies, with the classical opera soundtrack in the back. Those silent pictures show something vastly different from the ugly reality once you can hear what is actually being said.

And to conclude the episode, we have the infamous Don Draper is a heel scene where he absconds with Sally's birthday cake, thoroughly frustrating and embarrassing Betty in the process. Part of me thinks that he never meant to be gone that long...he was just going to take another spin around the block, but then he passed out and slept in front of the train tracks. And then that other part of me is convinced that he meant to do that all along. Don Draper, you're such a conflicted character...and that's why I you.

And in the end, Don Draper gets Sally a dog, because like Rachel said earlier, "every girl needs a dog to love and protect her."

Favorite Lines:

Pete Campbell: Oh yeah, I saw that. Honesty: It's a great angle.

Harry Crane: Draper? Who knows anything about that guy? No one's ever even lifted that rock. He could be Batman for all we know.

Don Draper: Costume change?
Rachel Menken: This is my closet.

Rachel Menken: Well then, am I supposed to live some life running alongside yours?

Don Draper: Happy birthday, baby.

Last edited by HobbyHorse; 07-19-2009 at 09:19 PM. Reason: VERY tl; dr...sorry.
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07-19-2009 , 10:19 PM
I stopped watching serial television with the last episode of Inspector Morse, but this looks interesting from the period POV if it's done accurately, without appeasing today's insatiable political correctness.
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07-21-2009 , 11:20 PM
Season 1: Episode 4 - New Amsterdam

And here we come to a Pete Campbell-centric episode where we finally get to see what makes that weasely lil' heart of his tick. I must say that Vincent Kartheiser, the actor who plays Pete Campbell, is one of my absolute favorites on the show. He plays him so perfectly, with a blend of pure egotism and complete obliviousness to the effect on his actions/attitude on other people that it is mesmerizing. He's definitely a scene stealer imo.



And now we finally get to meet Pete's new wife, Trudy. Very cute and not quite the pushover that Pete had previously led us to believe. Trudy wants an apartment in Manhattan, and she is determined to get one (though the $32,000 price tag seems very very reasonable compared to what NYC apartments sell for now. )

Brief cameo from my heroine Rachel Menken in a black turban...who shoots down Don Draper's offer to go get lunch with a chilly "I really can't see a reason for that." Take that, Mr. Irresistible (but you can call ME anytime, Don Draper. I'm always hungry for lunch.)

Betty begins to be drawn into the strange web of the divorcee Helen Bishop and her family. Helen seems to be playing games with her philandering ex-husband by controlling his access to the kids...how fortunate for her children. I get a strange vibe between Betty and Helen...I don't think Helen really likes Betty all that much...perhaps some payback nastiness for how the women treated her at Sally's birthday party in the other episode. I don't know, but the vibe between these two characters is very strained and awkward. And yet, Helen feels no problem in asking Betty to come over and watch her kids while she goes and stuffs envelopes for Kennedy's election...

And now we are introduced to a man who seems to be a bigger bastard than Pete Campbell himself: his father. His complete and utter disdain for Pete's job - "no job for a white man" - complements his callous rejection of Pete himself...what is so wrong with being an advertising executive? He coldly refuses to help out with any money for a down payment of his apartment.

Pete's family is the complete opposite of Trudy's (to Pete's disgust, I think). Trudy's dad glorifies Pete's job in advertising and unhesitatingly puts down the money for his little "jellybean's" apartment...of course, with some not so subtle strings attached. Pete is right to be wary...as he will now be extremely beholden to his in-laws and by extension, his wife gains some control over him. Poor Pete.

And now, we have the beginning of the odd, odd friendship between 9-year old Glen Bishop and Betty. First, he purposefully walks in on her while she's on the toilet. And she scolds him, but not severely and then she immediately forgives him. And then he asks for a lock of her hair, which she gives him. This is such an odd scene...I guess it just suggests how child-like Betty is in how she can't anticipate the consequences of her actions and just acts spontaneously and without much thought? Or about how both Glen and Betty have problems with personal boundaries? Or how compliments turn Betty into a witless pile of mush? I have no real idea how to interpret this scene...any ideas from anybody else?

Uh oh...Pete and Don have a pissing contest over Bethlehem Steel. In some ways, I think that Pete views Don as a sort of surrogate father, who he both tries to model himself after while at the same time undercut him completely. And Don just loathes Pete, completely and thoroughly because Pete was born with all of the things that Don was not, namely an upper crust pedigree and education. And the little fact that Pete is trying to steal Don's corner office and job. They can't ever really compete with each other because they don't really have the same skills and qualifications...each has what the other lacks. It was quite funny the whole scenario that Roger Stirling perpetuates in order to gain Pete's loyalty and obeisance to Don Draper.

And although, Draper may think that Pete is able to evade repercussions because of his name, the finale scene seems to suggest otherwise...that Pete is just as trapped by his name as much as he is privileged by it.

I really like the Ella Fitzgerald song that closes this episode...seems to fit so perfectly.

Favorite lines:

Pete Campbell's Dad: We gave you everything. We gave you our name. And what have you done with it?

Pete Campbell: I have ideas.
Don Draper: I'm sure you do. Stirling Cooper has more failed artists and intellectuals than the Third Reich.

Pete Campbell: You know what? I have good ideas. In fact, I used to carry around a notebook and a pen just to keep track. Direct marketing - I thought of that. Turned out it already existed, but I arrived at it, independently. And then I come to this place and you people tell me that I'm good with people. Which is strange. Because I'd never heard that before.

Pete Campbell: I won't let you down, Don.
Roger Stirling: Jesus, Campbell. Don't ever say that.

Roger Stirling: I bet daily friendship with that bottle attracts more people to advertising than any salary you could dream up.
Don Draper: That's why I got in.

Don Draper: Kids today - they have no one to look up to. Cuz they're looking up to us.

Last edited by HobbyHorse; 07-21-2009 at 11:27 PM.
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07-22-2009 , 08:52 AM
Please disregard previous curiosity, Hobby. Sorry, but there is no snap, crackle and pop to the dialogue you have offered up. Not even a puff.
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07-22-2009 , 12:12 PM
Well, I haven't really been posting dialogue, mostly one-liners so I don't really think your assessment is in any way a fair or accurate one. But it will be your loss, truly.
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07-22-2009 , 07:32 PM
You have been doing fantastic writeups here Hobby. I watched episode 3 last weekend and what struck me the most was how Draper seemed to be totally sad, confused and unhappy with his home life. Here is a guy living the American dream with a great house, 2 kids and a beautiful wife and doesn't seem to want any part of it.

Like in the previous episode he where tries to buy his wives happiness with a piece of jewelry here he tries to buy his kids love with a puppy. He doesn't seem to know how to interact with his own family.

Unfortunatly my on-demand pulled the rest of season one and only has season two up now. I was planning on watching episode 4 tonight but its not up anymore I really wanted to rewatch all of season one as I liked it a little more than season two.

This is the only TV show I have ever seen that can get by on style alone but of course it has so much more to offer. The shows representation of that era is phenominal and I am always wanting more when an episode ends.
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07-23-2009 , 09:11 PM
Agreed, Hobby, your write-ups have been excellent so far.

I just re-watched the whole first season and can't wait for s3.

In regards to your question about why Don goes after Rachel, one of the main things that all of his affairs have in common are that the women are all very different then Betty. Rachel might be the epitome of that, driven, independent, confident, etc.

RE: episode 4. The scene you mention where Roger tells Pete how Don saved his job is one of my favorites from the whole season.

In regards to the relationship between Betty and Glen, for me it is mostly to show how she is growing increasingly child-like in her behavior. She is also incredibly insecure and lonely, hence the wilting to kindness/a compliment.

Anyway, that's just my take. I really hope they put s2 up on On Demand so I can rewatch that before s3 starts.
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07-23-2009 , 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SL__72
In regards to your question about why Don goes after Rachel, one of the main things that all of his affairs have in common are that the women are all very different then Betty. Rachel might be the epitome of that, driven, independent, confident, etc.
Wow. This is a really astute observation...I'd never thought of it this way. It definitely seems like Don is chasing all the wommen who are Betty's "opposites" in a desperate attempt to (figuratively) escape his marriage. It's odd though because at times, the two of them do share some tender, heartfelt moments...

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RE: episode 4. The scene you mention where Roger tells Pete how Don saved his job is one of my favorites from the whole season.
Yeah, the actors who play Pete and Roger played that scene perfectly. It's so funny.

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In regards to the relationship between Betty and Glen, for me it is mostly to show how she is growing increasingly child-like in her behavior. She is also incredibly insecure and lonely, hence the wilting to kindness/a compliment.
Yeah, Betty can seem to be quite a tragic character sometimes...though I do kind of side with Don because I don't know if I could tell exactly what would make her happy...she doesn't really seem all that interested in her family (though she does devote a lot of time and energy to maintaining the "loving" facade of it all) or really interested in anything in particular...

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Anyway, that's just my take. I really hope they put s2 up on On Demand so I can rewatch that before s3 starts.
Stop by more frequently, SL_72. You have some really great insights and I thank you for sharing them.
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