Monday, February 11, 2008

Mad Men redux: Mo' old money, mo' problems

(Note: Because AMC is rerunning the first season of "Mad Men" every Sunday at midnight, and because a lot of people missed the show the first time around, I'm reposting my blog reviews for each episode the morning after. These are written as they were back in the summer/early fall; if I feel differently about anything in retrospect, I'll mention it in the comments. Also, while comments from both newbies and people who watched the first time are welcome, if you've seen these episodes before, please be vague about events in later episodes so as not to spoil things for the newcomers.)

Brief spoilers for episode four of "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I borrow a neighbor's lock of hair...

I watched this episode about a month ago (even before I saw episode 3, for reasons too boring to elaborate on) and wasn't in a position to take notes at the time, so I can't say as much about it as previous weeks, but I liked it. The primary goal is to humanize Pete -- to explain him, if not apologize for him -- and it accomplished that.

Those of you who find the show too heavy-handed probably aren't going to have their opinions changed by scenes like the one pictured above, where Pete's blue-blood daddy (or is he?; the money comes from his mother's side) lectures him about how his job isn't fit for a white man. But it worked for me, in part because of those obnoxious Bermuda shorts an docksiders; sometimes, it's the odd detail that makes a scene. Pete's weird quest for approval from Don makes much more sense now, both in light of his own lousy father figure and the revelation that he intended to be a creative type, but the episode's not entirely a pity party for him. He massively oversteps his bounds with the Beth Steel man, and I like that Roger manages to frame things so it looks like Don saved his job.

In the other half of the episode, Betty goes down the rabbit hole by agreeing to babysit for Helen the divorcee while Helen's off cruising for men at a Kennedy campaign event. It's an interesting friendship (if you can call it that), because Betty has as many reasons to be jealous of Helen as she does to be afraid of becoming like her. Chief among the latter: Helen's creepy son, so out of sorts from the divorce that he's lost all sense of boundaries, walking in on Betty while she tries to pee and then demanding a lock of her hair. (Not sure which of the two is more disturbing, but it was amusing to see the machinations a woman like Betty had to go to to use the bathroom in that get-up.)

What did everybody else think?


Alan Sepinwall said...

Christopher Allport, who played Pete's Bermuda shorts-wearing dad, recently died in an avalanche.

Anonymous said...

I was hooked on this show from the very beginning, but that crazy scene w/Betty baby-sitting was the one that threw away the key to my shackles to Mad Men. Besides Betty's bizarre interaction w/Glenn, I loved that she snooped through her neighbor's bathroom drawers.

Anonymous said...

The lock of hair scene, the home movie scene from episode two, the gynecologist scene in episode one - did David Lynch play a role in Mad Men's development? I'm completely hooked.

By the way, does anyone know when the DVD is being released?

Anonymous said...

I'm just starting to watch Mad Men. The first few episodes didn't really have me hooked but this one sold me. Now the only bad thing is that I'm gonna burn through the rest of the season quickly so I'll have to look up your original posts and won't be contributing to these new weekly re-posts.

Dan Jameson said...

Alan - please don't let the lack of comments cause you to re-think posting your original reviews. I love this show but it's hard to comment when others are just as quiet.

I laughed out loud when Glenn asked Betty for a piece of her hair - HA!

Anonymous said...

I loved that disturbing dynamic between Betty and Glenn; very creepy, very strange, and I liked it. I think Betty kind of liked it too. She liked that this kid is so screwed up and had a crush on her.

Excellent show and I'm so glad I'm rewatching, but it throws me that Pete looks about 15 years old; I can't seem to get paste it.