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