Posted by: Paul | September 10, 2010

Mad Men returns!

‘Who is Donald Draper?’
‘What do men say when you ask them that?’

Mad Men is back! And gloriously earlier than anticipated too, no waiting for the new year this time. Prepare for 13 weeks of unadulterated joy (and not a little adultery along the way).

Don is looking a little rough around the edges. Both his divorce from Betty and the work involved in getting Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce off the ground (that name will now never be typed again, to be replaced with SCDP) is obviously taking its toll. He’s living in a dark, dingy apartment being looked after by a sarcastic housekeeper while Betty and The Other Man live in luxury in his house. Which he continues to pay for.

And his professional mojo has deserted him too – with precious few clients and those of them who remain on the, well, precious side, Don seems unable to get through to them and it’s left to Peggy and Pete to organise illicit publicity stunts to increase their bookings. And when Don finds out he is displeased – but is it because of their tactics, or that the market is leaving him behind, or that he just plain didn’t think of it first?

As ever, MM is shot through with pathos, period detail and premonitions. The series has always been an allegory for our own times, but when Peggy’s new partner in the art department asks ‘does this mean I’m down to 2 days a week?’ it’s hard not to feel involved. ‘In these straitened times’ is a favourite phrase of the press at the moment, and with the start of the Vietnam War looming for our heroes you can’t help but feel the climate is changing in the series also. It can’t be a coincidence that Lucky Strike cigarettes has become 75% of SCDP’s business, with the ban on tobacco advertising looming on our side of the pond at this time – will the firm be able to keep their heads above water?

Never once when I’m watching Mad Men do I feel like I’m ever looking at anything less than something beamed straight out of the Sixties. Its world is absolute, and utterly complete. Once more its makers, AMC, have delivered another slice of delicious Americana, something almost all other shows can learn from. I can’t wait for Wednesday nights from now until Christmas.

Plus, it’s always an excuse to show another photo of Joan (Christina Hendricks). But hey, who needs an excuse, right? 😉

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