"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mad Men: The Marriage of Figaro

Remember how last episode Betty's hands were going numb and she was going to see a shrink? I'm beginning to think that Don is the one who needs help. He's getting increasingly unhappy in his marriage (not just screwing the artist chick but making a play for the head of Mencken's department store), he's drinking beer like crazy and zoning out at the weirdest times (and most of those times had to do with trains - what was that all about?)

The ad guys at Sterling Cooper are confused by the classic "Lemon" ad from Volkswagen. Some of them think it's brilliant, some of them are confused that an ad that basically dumps on the car can be so successful (a full page in Playboy!). Don doesn't get the ad at all.

Pete is back from his honeymoon, and though he talks a bit to the guys about his bedroom antics (nudge nudge wink wink), seems to really want to give marriage a chance, even suggesting to Don that he and the wives should get together some time. Peggy is all smiles with Pete, but he tells her he's married now and that was just a one time thing (this episode is all about marriage, if you couldn't tell). He even compliments her in that "it's just a harmless work flirtation" sort of way. The girls at work are all reading Lady Chatterly's Lover, and Peggy borrows it, though a co-worker warns, "Don't read it on the train, you'll attract the wrong kind of man."

The second half of the show is all set at Don and Betty's house (after a curious interlude where Ms. Mencken gives Don a tour of her department store, including the security dogs she keeps on the roof). Interesting how once the action switches to the homefront I don't see work again in this episode. The show is confident enough not to bounce back and forth so the action "keeps going." There's a lot of drama at the kid's birthday party too, including a visit from Helen, a divorced woman with a young boy. Divorced! In 1960! Shocking! Of course, Betty thinks she might be making a move on Don, because they were...standing next to each other? Whatever Betty.

The great period details continues, including a nice fleeting shot of an old Dash detergent box in the laundry room, one of the kids at the party having polio, even a radio broadcast that has news about the continuing tax evasion trial of...well, they don't say. I could run to my history books or Wikipedia to see who it could be, but again there's that confidence that the people behind this show don't have to hit me over the head with obvious info to place me in that time period (the smoking and the art design does that well enough).

Next week Pete's new wife makes an appearance

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