Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mad Men - Wee Small Hours, or Booooring!

Don and the gang were equal parts obscure and boring this week, and the episode seemed to linger on the most obvious and trite parts of the series, while flitting past the interesting characters and plot points.

First off, the dual affairs with Henry Francis and Miss Farell (Betty and Don, respectively) were played out weeks ago. I am ready to move on from these two bit guest stars. I really wanted Betty to just use and lose old Henry Francis, but no, she has to start an awkward flirtation/correspondence that fizzles just when things start to get interesting. What do you want, Betty? To just talk to the guy?

Speaking of just talking, the extended wordplay between Don and Miss Farell was headed to such an obvious place - why did we need to spend all that time getting there? The scene where Don gives her a ride (dude, she's running, hence exercise? oh, nevermind) on his way to work could have been half as long and twice as effective. We get that she's progressive - we don't need to hear tripe like, "I think [the children] already know," about Martin Luther King and the struggle for integration. No, they don't - they're seven. At least with her earlier banter, there was a question of whether or not she would give in. She clearly sees right through Don and his shenanigans, but was content to fall into his arms at the end of the episode. Boring!

While wasting time on these bits of fluff, the episode ignored both the formation of the Hilton ad campaign and Sal's emerging identity as a homosexual. I've been aching for the writers to show us more of the actual ad agency, not the domestic bits that surround it. We finally get a chance to glimpse into the mind of a brilliant ad exec, but all the writers of Mad Men throw us are an early scene where Don shoots everything down, then the final presentation. But how did we get from there to here, guys? That's what I want to know! And what is the deal with Connie Hilton? He wanted the moon? Really? And because Don doesn't give it to him on the first go around, he's going to walk out of Sterling Coop in a huff? Man, you guys don't need that drama. Focus on Lucky Strike, or something. Oh, wait...

The other big Sterling cash cow is also about to hoof it out the door, after Sal rejects the advances of Lee Garner Jr. Before we get to anything else, I have to say that gaydar in the 60's must have been a powerful thing, but I caught no whiff of homosexuality in any of Sal's actions the entire episode, and yet Lee is forward enough to give him a pectoral massage without so much as a "Hello, sailor"? I guess I'll just have to trust Mad Men on that one.

Anyway, then Sal got fired because he rejected Lee's advances. I was shocked that Don was so dismissive of Sal, considering that he knew about Sal's tendencies before, and swept any suggestion of judgment under the rug. Couldn't Don have kept Sal's secret safe like he did Peggy's in the first/second season? Don, your managerial skills are going down the drain.

So, first Joan, now Sal. My two favorite Sterling Coop employees are employees no more. And what's left? Pete? Ugh. Although Ken Cosgrove somehow still has a job after enabling a foot mow-down (to which Roger made a nice homage this week).

I'll allow one off-week, Mad Men, but I expect better next time. You best bring your A game.

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