Saturday, March 24, 2012

Madness Contained Until Tomorrow(land)

Some thoughts from back when we last left Don, a year and a half ago. And the Mad Men tag will take you to posts from various specific episodes over the last four years. It helps to be reminded why people are making the season 5 premiere an event. More about that later.

Another season, another reason, of Mad Men whoopee is over.

It began with a reporter asking “who is Don Draper?” and ended with this answer: A father of three who fell in love with a French-speaking, child-loving 25-year old Maria Von Trapp of a brunette, while he seemed to have saved his business by a stunt ad in the NY Times about Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce not taking tobacco advertising.

I’m glad to see Don find focus. He hit rock bottom this season, with the vomit on his shirt. Then he began the journaling and swimming, and the man regained some of his beauty and charisma. He’s much more interesting as a man interested in his life than a drunk trying to throw it all away.

Betty continued to be a damaged, cruel, lost woman; Joan chose to be a mother rather than not; Peggy is horrified that her work still is undervalued; and Sally is the best actress on television.

We’ve come a long way from seasons 1 and 2, when Weiner’s love of style trumped his ability to tell a story. Now the storytelling is compelling, and we may all be with these characters for the long run, into the seventies and beyond.

Other moments:
•The real Don Draper’s engagement ring coming to our Don Draper

•So many pop culture references: The Sound of Music; Hogan’s Heroes; Beverly Hillbillies (swimming pools, movie stars), Abe Beame!

•Poor Faye. She starts the episode with Don, but It’s not to be.

•Don roping Peggy into his happy news. Megan reminds him of Peggy! Megan admires her the way he does. What's that about.

•Bobby’s desire to ride a jet in Tomorrowland, and Don’s wistful look at the window at the end. Is he feeling The Graduate (the blank stares at the back of the bus), or truly Sonny & Cher (and then look what actually happened to them)

Not a cliff hanger, but a nice plateau for the characters to rest on until next season.


scribbler50 said...

You hit the nail on the head, M.A., "story" on this series has really taken off. And then some! Looking back, it's seems like the first season or two was more of a dress rehearsal of a show... trying on all the clothes and getting the sets right. It was fun to watch and to play "remember when?" but not much really happened that I can remember. Boy, not now. But I guess it's like with any series, or at least the ones that make it, the longer the characters are around and the more the writers get to know them, the more those characters take them to interesting places. This was a wonderful final episode, if bitter sweet.

Now what do we got... a year and a half hiatus???

M.A.Peel said...

Hi scrib, I love the way you describe the first two seasons as a dress rehearsal, trying on the clothes.

The hiatus won't help the show.

Tom W. said...

It's the Don and Peggy now, I think - they're the poles of the series. That may be fascinating, or not. But you're right, we're used to the style now and it matters not to the story.