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Mad Men: For Those Who Think Young (season premiere) - VIDEO

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 28th 2008 1:08AM

Mad Men
(S02E01) "There are other ways of thinking about things than the way you think of them." - Duck, to Don

Pepsi had a famous ad campaign in the 1960s with the tag line For Those Who Think Young. That's the title of this episode, but it's not about the ad execs trying to come up with something for Pepsi. The episode is about change. More specifically, the youth change. A young, hip President is in the White House (with a baby), a stylish First Lady gives a televised tour of her home, everyone is having babies, and younger people are being hired by other ad agencies, and Sterling Cooper might have to as well.

But what types of changes are in store for the people of Sterling Cooper?

This episode starts 14 months after the first season finale, but I love how the passage of time isn't rammed down our throats. Where other shows would be really blunt and upfront about the fact that over a year has gone by, this show does it by showing, not telling. Through the characters. You can really feel it in the air even if they didn't mention when it was taking place (Valentine's Day, 1962): Peggy is remarkably different, with a sharp edge and confidence she didn't have when she first started at Sterling Cooper (great scene with Don's new secretary Lois - it's like Peggy is Lois' Joan). Harry and Jennifer are back together, and she's going to have a baby. Trudy isn't thrilled with this, as she wants a baby with Pete. He's not sure what the rush is. His question to Peggy about having kids, and the guys sitting around wondering if Betty got her promotion through sleeping with Don and/or going to a fat farm, are the only slight reference to Peggy's pregnancy - another nice touch, because there's plenty of time to tell that story.

We also sense the passage of time in Don and Betty's relationship. There's no mention of Don's mistresses, and Don and Betty actually seem to be, if not outright happy, at least they've reached a place where they are comfortable with each other. But even here you can feel changes coming. I desperately want this couple to be Rob and Laura Petrie (or hell, maybe even JFK and Jackie - maybe there's a parallel the show is trying to show here), but I sense that there's going to be changes and temptations along the way that will make that impossible.

Speaking of JFK and Jackie, I think Sal is more interested in the design at the White House than he is with his, ahem, date.

Some more highlights from this episode:

- I like how the ice is melted in the bowl during the meeting, to show how long the gang has been waiting for Don to show up for the meeting.

- January Jones is one of the most beautiful women on the planet. And she plays Betty with an incredible mix of stuff you love and stuff you hate. I love her priceless line about how her daughter giving Valentine's Day cards to all the boys in class "defeats the purpose." This goes well with her weird speech last season about how a scar on her daughter's face would be worse than her daughter dying.

- Pete gives Trudy a box of candy for Valentine's Day (how lame!), and then immediately tells her to open the box because he wants one.

- Not to assume anything, but what's with the two guys who interview with Don? They're creative partners, and there seems to be a hint that they're more. They aren't married, they make a point of looking at the women as the left the office. I don't know, maybe I'm reading too much into it.

- I almost cheered when Don tells the jerk in the elevator to take off hat (though at first I thought these guys were going to end up interviewed by Don and he would insult them even more, heh.)

- I'm looking forward to the episode where someone at Sterling Cooper is the first person in office history to Xerox their ass.

Here's what Don says at the end of the episode as he walks the dog and mails Frank O'Hara's Mediations In An Emergency (to...who??). It's from the poem "Mayakovsky:"

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

In his own way, Don is a poet too. A poet of advertising. When he comes up with ideas and slogans for Lucky Strikes or Mohawk Airlines, he's creating the poetry of pop culture. Maybe the guy in the bar is wrong. Maybe Don and the work of Frank O'Hara have a lot more in common than he assumes. I even love how he defends advertising to Peggy when she says that "sex sells," which was probably a cliche even back in 1962: "People who think like that think that monkeys can do this...they can't do what we do. And they hate us for it."

This is a beautiful, literate, deep show (I've already ordered a book by O'Hara - the power of advertising!). There's so much going on here it's like reading a novel. This is the best television series to debut in...well, I don't know how many years. It's so good it hurts.

Who did Don mail the book to?
Rachel251 (67.3%)
Midge73 (19.6%)
Someone else (say in comments)49 (13.1%)

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weightloss

All I gotta say it that it is a fantastic series.

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October 25 2008 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jean

It wasn't as "guns a-blazing" as I had hoped, but there are some good developments to keep an eye on. Paul needs to ditch the beard if he wants to look younger, which seems to be a big issue around there.

Fans of the show may want to check out the funny Attention Deficit Theater recap of the show here: http://www.unboundedition.com/content/view/7298/50/

July 30 2008 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jean's comment
DK

That was great.
Pete: "I am totally going to snap one of these episodes. Just you wait."

July 30 2008 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Katie

I read in an article (I *think* it was either on TVSquad, or on a link I found via TVSquad) about Paul's new beard, and he had grown one during the hiatus between the 2 seasons, but Weiner & Co asked him to keep it.

***Bob Sassone: Was this in the TVS posted interview? Also, why are you guys all under "TVSquad blogger now?"***

July 29 2008 at 11:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DK

To everyone wondering, the phone operator from last year is Lois, Don's new secretary. Salvatore's wife is new. I know this only because I watched the last season over the past week, and I'd seen that actress before.

I'm wondering what is up with Paul's beard. Is he trying to look mature? Because he hasn't changed an iota.

July 29 2008 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DK's comment
tv.squad.zkam

Confirmed... I watched season 1 over the past few weeks (thank you Bittorrent!). The scene with the phone operator meeting Salvatore is in epispode 8, which I haven't deleted yet...

The operator introduces herself to Salvatore as "Lois, Lois Sadler"

August 04 2008 at 10:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bmoshin

LOVELOVELOVE the show ... particularly LOVE Joan and Betty and I believe that they love me.
ONE problem ... I quit smoking almost 2 years ago and this friggin show is making crave cigarettes more than I have in the past 2 years. I may actually have to stop watching because of it.
Or maybe I will just start smoking again. It may be worth it.

July 29 2008 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eric Berlin

Some thoughts on the best show on television today:

* The most revealing scene in a stellar season debut in my view: Don aggressively forcing the obnoxious talker on the elevator to take off his hat. It was a wonderful metaphor for the forces gathering that are about to sweep the culture and status quo of the era away forever. Also reminded me of my own childhood in the '80s when my stepfather would announce when I walked into the house wearing a baseball hat: "What are you, religious?"

* The realism of both Don and Betty trying to make their marriage work, the strangeness and complexity that is real life and real world relationships, the manner in which it's revealed that we're all islands groping out for some kind of meaning and connection in this world... wow.

* Who did Don send the O'Hara book to?

* I love the changes in Peggy, her confidence and in how she drinks in every word that Don speaks. Everyone in the room (including Don) is complacent. Peggy represents the women's movement to come, glass ceilings yet to be shattered.


July 29 2008 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

I watched the show on DVR last night -- a day late. I thought the episode was paced slower than usual, and I wondered what a new viewer (given the advertising push) would think tuning in for the first time.

I thought BMW's ad at the mid-way point was brilliant. It must be fun to make ads for smart audiences!

July 29 2008 at 9:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
julie

I finally got to watch on the DVR last night. A few comments:

Betty's comments about weight and beauty seem to be typical of women of a certain class in that era. It's how she was raised - think about her comments about her own mother. My mother in law (82) to this day is more impressed by the exterior of a woman than her interior. Always the first comment is about appearance. And the Draper's kitchen looks just like hers!

The whole Peggy/youth dynamic will turn SterlingCooper on its head. The Baby Boomers are just beginning to hit their career ages and we know the changes that came from them.

Roger seemed a bit bitter about Don when he spoke to Duck. It will be interesting to find out what happened in the intervening time

The White House tour was a seminal event in 1962. My mom told me she was glued to the TV. It was the dawn of a new era regarding the presidency - opening up to the public in ways that had not been done before thanks to the magic of television.

I think Don sent the letter to Rachel.

July 29 2008 at 7:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

The Xerox machine in Peggy's office is a message, not unlike the horse's head in "The Godfather." Peggy's behavior came across as arrogant - Don's secretary is the one person she thinks she can retaliate against for the way the guys treated her in the meeting (as a glorified gofer). While the secretary over-reacted - Peggy didn't yell at her - what Peggy did disrupted the office which is Joan's domain. The photocopier in the office is a reminder to Peggy of who really has power. It isn't a war unless Peggy wants it to be and it won't be (at least not for a long time) because Peggy knows she'd lose.

July 28 2008 at 5:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MERVE-THE-PERVE

I kept thinking Don & Betty had separated up until they showed him at his desk at home.

July 28 2008 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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