Mad Men-Christmas Comes But Once a Year
Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine about how nothing really happens in an episode of Mad Men. He’s never watched the show on DVD only on TV week to week and I have done both. I told him its good both ways but I never really followed up on why (though he didn’t ask.) And it works both ways because Mad Men is an actual character study show and a show about life. The plots are secondary, engines to drive character actions and reactions where our attention is supposed to be. So watching it on DVD doesn’t really do anything for the pacing because each episode even with continuing plot lines is its own entity.
I find it very admirable how often Mad Men will have life changing events happen off-screen, between seasons, between episodes. That is especially marked with the return of Freddy Rumsen and that creepy weird kid from the first season who had a crush on Betty back when she wasn’t SO horrible. The delivery, the suggestion of a life lived from the last time they were on the show is economical and creates or in this case re-establishes the depth of these characters. Freddy is a recovering alcoholic and what was formerly perceived as sweetness in the old Sterling Cooper structure comes off as old-fashioned in the new order much to Peggy’s chagrin. Weirdo kid is even weirder and I don’t know yet if its sweet or creepy that he’s turned his attention to Sally now that she “knows what he’s gone through” (And that opening shot of the family at a tree lot, there’s just something creepy about it. Henry Francis is this season’s Peggy Fucking Duck Phillips” for sure.)
After the Don-centric season opener this episode goes about establishing plot lines or creating moments for every character. Everybody gets to do a little something this episode. Like, when Pete tries to embarrass Freddy. “Oh yeah Pete’s kind of prick” I said to myself. There was at least two moments in this episode involving Joan doing something sexy that need to be turned in a GIF which should be an every episode bare minimum requirement
Here’s an old one
And another. Keep it up whoever makes these. You’re doing God’s work.
And finally of course Don Draper. What used to be charming philandering and adultery has become gross manwhorism. No longer kept in check by his marriage Don Draper paws at every woman in his path whether he feels anything for them or not. Counting that cute girl and the prostitute from last week FIVE women in two episodes to one extent or another.
Oh and Don probably will get re-married by the end of this season. That was some clunky foreshadowing but now we have an interesting game of which girl is it going to be?
Remember when Roger Sterling did black face last season? Him having to play Santa for the Lucky Strike guy who tried to fuck Sal was a nice bit of karma.
-Daniel Von Egidy, 2010