Musing Review: Mad Men – Tea Leaves (S5, Ep3)

This is a review of Mad Men Season 5 Episode 3 entitled Tea Leaves.

By now many of you have probably read reviews of this season’s third episode. It took me some time to be able to sit down and watch so here it goes almost one week late. As I noted in my review of the season premiere there were a couple characters distinctly missing, namely Betty and here’s where we got to see her. The episode was decent, I wasn’t particularly impressed but I wasn’t let down either. Here is what I think.

We opened up with our first look at Betty and she was not the same woman last saw at the end of last season. Betty let herself go, to say it bluntly, she got fat. There have been numerous reactions to this on the interweb and I’m not really up in arms about it. I read that January Jones was pregnant when they started filming the season and instead of hide her behind a bag or a perfectly placed lamp they’d use her body change in the show. I think it worked. You could see how much this weighed on her (no pun intended) and you could really see how distraught she was over it. She lost intimacy with her husband and even Sally started to disrespect her (about food). She used to be a model of course. I totally get this feeling from personal experience when I’ve had weight fluctuations and I know many people who’ve gone through it.

It’s not something they deal with much on TV, usually everybody is just so pretty and perfect. Mad Men dealt with weight gain before when Peggy had gained weight due to her “uknown” pregnancy but they just had the men making fun of her. This time was different. They tackled the problem “head on.” Betty had to deal with Henry who happened to be wonderful and loved her just the way she was. She also had to deal with her mother-in-law who is also obese and did not treat her well. It wasn’t fun but it did set her on a course to deal with her weight gain. She tried to take the easy way out by getting diet pills but the doctor insisted that he perform a full examination. Unfortunately the exam found a nodule in her neck and it could have been a cancerous tumor. Now that certainly threw Betty off. She barely has the capacity to deal with anything and she had a tough time dealing with this. She ran straight to Don (interesting) and told him. She had her tests done, found some support from a fellow woman and made it through the episode. Thankfully the tumor was benign though it gave her the strength to confront her feelings. She gained back some intimacy with Henry and it seemed that she’s on her way back to her old self. Maybe not her old terrible self but we’ll see where the season goes.

Not only did this cancer scare throw Betty off but it threw Don off as well. He was very preoccupied by this. He was certainly concerned about his kids not growing up with a mother though I think he care equally about Betty. As much of a bad husband he was he certainly always cared about her. Now interestingly enough he didn’t tell Megan right away. It took him till he really got upset and she confronted him about why for him to break the news. He had his reasons, I didn’t agree with them. I thought he should have shared with his wife right away but I guess that’s not Don. Megan was really great though. A bit annoyed (and rightfully so), then she got past it. I really think she’s having a positive effect on Don.

Elsewhere in the world on SCDP the company is growing. Mohawk airlines returned as a client and the firm needs to grow. Peggy was put in charge of hiring another copywriter. Not the best of stories in Mad Men history. The candidate was overly obnoxious and they wrote Peggy as more of a helpless character than she really is. He was also a little too over the top stereotypically Jewish. They ended up hiring him on so we’ll get to see how his character develops.

The tension between Roger and Pete continued to heat up in this episode as well. Pete publicly humiliated Roger when announcing the new business to the entire firm. Roger was not happy at all and left in a huff. Don tried to console him but it didn’t work too well. I think this is going to continue to escalate until we hit that boiling point and a real showdown occurs. In the mean time I expect more mind games.

Of additional note there was a scene where Don and Harry tried to go find the Rolling Stones’ manager to try and sign them onto a commercial. It didn’t hit the mark. Don showed up in his suit, didn’t let loose and Harry is just getting annoying. He’s got this whole tension thing with Don over the lude comments he made about Megan. I don’t think Don reciprocates. Either way I just didn’t like that and it could have been executed better.

So not a bad continuation of the storyline. I’ll still say they’re setting up a lot of storylines for the season. More Mad Men on tonight and we’ll see where it goes.

Watch Mad Men Sundays at 10:00PM on AMC.

Titanic in 3D – The Boat Still Sinks

“Promise me Jack, you’ll never let go.”  That’s just one of three things that I remember from the movie.  To be fair I was just a young teenager when James Cameron’s Titanic came out in the theatres.  I remember going to see it though I don’t think I really grasped it back then.  It’s themes were a bit too complex for teenage me.  All we did is joke about how the boat sinks at the end (sorry for the spoiler).  Now 15 years later it’s back in theatres for a limited engagement now this time in 3D!

Yes he did it.  James Cameron, the pioneer of great 3D movies (Avatar – if I do say so  myself) has taken his big epic boat and 3D-ified it.  To be honest this prospect really didn’t excite me at all. That was until I came across this review article at Vulture that touted how great the movie is.  It wasn’t that the author thought the movie itself was great but he touted how great the movie looked in 3D.  In fact the author admitted to not caring too much for the movie plot 15 years ago.  Apparently the work James did to remake the world in 3D just truly enhanced all of those scenes.  You can read all his details by clicking the link above.  I’ll give another nod to the movie for its two leads.  Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet were pretty spectacular in their respective roles and both have had very successful careers since then.

So I’m not exactly running to the theatre to see this new rendition.  It’s only been out for one day (re-premiered April 4th) so there’s some time.  It may or may not fit into my schedule.  When I do get to see it maybe I’ll remember more than those three things.  Oh, by the way, the other two things I remember are carriage car sex (teenage boy) and “My heart will go on.”

What do you think?  Going to see it or not?

The 10 Commandments – A Passover / Easter Tradition – VIDEO

“Let my people go!”  It’s one of my favorite lines from one of the most classic movies of all time.  Yes, you guessed it.  It’s Cecil B. DeMille’s glorious biblical epic.  The telling of the story of Moses from a baby floating in the Nile, through princedom, through exodus from Egypt all the way to receiving the ten commandments.  It stars a gloriously powerful Charleton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Pharaoh and Anne Baxter as Queen Nefretiri.  It’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

It’s also a yearly staple.  The 10 Commandments is to Passover / Easter as It’s a Wonderful Life is to Christmas.  I remember watching it when I was younger always excited for it, although I never quite made it through the entire movie back then.  I just love the movie.  It’s not a religious thing at all, I can’t stretch that point enough.  It’s just great cinema and I love great cinema.  For 1956 the visuals were amazing.  I would always be in awe every time I saw Moses part the Red Sea.  Charleton’s strong portrayal of Moses in all parts of his life was just so well done.  The movie is just wonderful in so many ways.  No wonder it is an Academy Award winner.  Though it only won one 1956 award for Best Special Effects  it received a total of seven nominations for Best Picture, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Sound and the category it won.

I remember it always airing on Sunday nights on ABC, though I could be wrong.  We’re getting our yearly dose of the movie tonight, Saturday Apil 7 at 7:00pm ET.  It’s a long movie (especially when aired on TV with commercials) so it will run you almost 5 hours.  It’s scheduled to end at 11:44 pm ET.  It’s all happening on ABC.

Watch a trailer for the movie below and I  hope you’re as excited as I am.  I’ll be DVRing it just in case I miss parts.  Happy Passover and Happy Easter everyone.  Enjoy!

Amazing Walking Dead Mad Men Mashup – VIDEO

First AMC made official Walking Dead themed Mad Men Season 5 commercials.  (They were pretty cool.) Now we have a full fledged mashup of the two shows courtesy of a group called The Key of Awesome.  After watching it a couple times I’m going to have to agree with the group name.  This video is all kinds of awesome.

If you’ve been a fan of both shows you’ll find this incredibly funny.  I had a number of laugh out loud moments.  It touched on just about every bit of ridiculous present in both shows.  One of my favorite lines is “Where’s Carl?  … He wandered off about an hour ago, said something about poking a walker with a stick.”  Zombie Don Draper and the parody of Herschel are by far my favorite character in this spoof.  There’s even a full fledged ad pitch about brains.  I hope you enjoy.  Video after the jump.

Musing Review: Battleground Season 1 So Far – Hulu Original Series

After Hulu sent me an email about their new original series Battleground (not to be confused with the movie based on a board game named Battleship) I decided to check it out. Maybe I’m just a sucker for email marketing. Yes I am (sometimes), however in this case I was genuinely intrigued. Not so much about the show in particular (I really thought it was about naval warfare), more so about the fact it is true original online programming. I had been excited about the original programming prospect for quite some time since Netflix first announced Lilyhammer. I hadn’t watched Netflix’s foray into original programming so why not Hulu’s venture.  It’s been 8 episodes out of a possible 13 episode season (though I’m not really sure).  Here’s how I see it.

The show is very much a single camera comedy a la The Office or Parks and Recreation though not quite the same.  It’s filmed as a faux documentary of a U.S. senate campaign in the battleground state of Wisconsin.  We follow the liberal, democratic current state senator, her conniving husband, her simpleton step-son, the campaign manager, PR woman, speech writer, social media expert and interns throughout their day and see their wacky shenanigans.  It’s quite an interesting crowd.  They really do all have good repoire with each other and it works well to highlight their interrelationships.

The first 8 episodes have been somewhat funny.  There were a couple lull episodes in the beginning, episodes 2 through 4, though it got better.  They derive a lot of their humor from the situation and some quirky characters.  I’ve never been part of a political campaign so I don’t really know how realistic any of the political “stuff” is but it seemingly works in context.  I’ve had a number of “a ha” and laugh out loud moments.

As part of the faux documentary they have interviews with their future selves.  Most of them anyway.  They’ve been able to do a fair amount of foreshadowing and gives up some lingering questions that we want answered.  Yet another reason to continue watching.

The casting is not too bad.  I have no idea how the financials work with this show but I’d imagine that they don’t have a huge budget.  There are certainly no big name actors, probably can’t afford them.  The male lead (“Tak” Davis – the campaign manager), played by Jay Hayden, can totally carry the show.  He’s charismatic and can really act. I must also give a notable mention to the intern characters Ben and Lindsay, played by Ben Samuel and Lindsay Payne respectively.  Ben is really playing two different characters and does a great job at it.  Lindsay really brings home a great girl next door though she is a stronger female character as well.

So I say give it a shot if you haven’t done so already.  It’s not that bad and I’m going to keep going. This is Hulu’s first foray into original programming and they have much more in the pipeline.  It’s bound to get better (though it could get worse).  As more and more original programming shifts away from the traditional networks to a web based platform we’re going to see better and better shows.

Watch Battleground on Hulu.  8 episodes are available right now and they put up new ones every Tuesday.  Enjoy!

News Team Assemble: Anchor Man 2 Announced – VIDEO

The other night Will Ferrell made a big splash on Conan when he came out in full Ron Burgundy regalia to announce the Anchor Man sequel.  In typical Ron Burgundy fashion he was playing a flute and  his moustache was perfect.  Now this is a sequel I can get behind.  I loved Anchorman when it came out and I still love it.  At the time I don’t think I realized that a news team could be that funny.  The ensemble cast was great. I love any comedy with Paul Rudd and I’d even venture to say it highlighted the early movie career of Steve Carrell.  More details to come later. I’m not even sure when the release date will be yet.

I hope they assemble the entire news team again.  Thank you for the announcement Team Coco.  Enjoy!

Musing Review: Game of Thrones – The North Remembers (S2, Ep1)

This is a Musing Review of Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 1 – The North Remembers.

A red comet heralded the coming of Game of Thrones Season 2. It was a glorious episode and a wonderful way to premier the season. It was engaging right from the get go starting with the opening credits (they’re updated btw). The story started right where the last season left off and we got to see all of our favorite characters all over the different parts of Westeros and beyond.   They weaved the storyline together really well.  The visuals were spectacular and the acting was top notch. It lived up to all the expectations I had and I hope it lived up to yours too. Here’s how it all went down.

Joffrey

I’m not sure if I can dislike a particular character more. I never liked him in the books but seeing his character come to life on screen for a second season just made it even worse. Hats off to Jack Gleeson for playing such a hate-able character. It’s Joffrey’s name day and we got a glimpse of how terrible a ruler he is. We see the Hound knock someone to their death in a pretty great scene. Ser Dontos is introduced as the drunk fat knight turned into a fool at Joff’s hand. Thankfully Sansa was there to bring a little order to the chaos. She’s really got the obedient act down now.

Danaerys

She is certainly the mother of dragons and is starting to learn how to be one. Her story starts with her khalasar wandering through the desert looking for food and refuge with no end in sight. Ser Jorah is there to help and provide her advice. When her horse dies, the one from Khal Drogo (sad scene), she sends her bloodriders out to different east directions to find refuge. There was a decently long interchange in Dothraki and I was impressed with how much they’ve developed the language. Will there be courses taught in the language soon.  The baby dragons looked cool.  One was sitting on her shoulder for a while though they’re not quite so big … not yet.  She’s going to have to learn what type of meat the like to eat.  Viserys didn’t know.

Robb

The King in the North is growing up quickly. So is his direwolf, which looks downright scary. He has Jamie Lannister held captive and tries to make a deal for the emancipation of the north. He’s coming into his own as king as he commands his mother to try and make peace with King Renly.

 

 

Jon

Beyond the wall is white and bleak just like you’d expect it.  Jon and the brothers of the Night’s Watch find themselves at Crastor’s house looking for answers and shelter.  Why have the wildlings abandoned their camps?  Is anyone going to touch Crastor’s daughters?  They better hope not.  Lord Command Mormont said so and totally scolded Jon for speaking out of turn.  Castor was cast as one cruel looking dude and played that part really well.  I liked the brief scene when Sam says that he hasn’t seen a girl in six months.  Foreshadowing …

Stannis

King Stannis and Dragonstone are new additions to season 2 and they’re not the only ones.  We also see a beautifully sexy / scary red Melisandre (the red priestess) and we get our first glimpse at Ser Davos (the onion knight) as well as other new characters.  They’re burning the seven gods on the shore as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light (R’hillor – although I don’t remember them using its name).  They really made the visuals work in every scene with Stannis.  The gods burning and Stannis pulling the flaming sword out looked quite surreal.  When the Maester tried to poison Melisandre and it backfired the visuals looked exactly like how I pictured from the books.  Stannis was cast really well.  He has a strong aura but is not particularly likeable (just like in the books).  We’ll see how he works out for the rest of the season.

Bran

Bran is lord of Winterfell now though he does not like his duties.  He doesn’t like to hear is brother talked about negatively and would much rather be out climbing or walking but he can’t.  You can see how much of a toll it’s taking on him.  He’s starting to have the wolf dreams (skin shifting) and it was really well done.  Looking down onto the water and seeing the wolf’s face was perfect.

Cersei

Cersei is becoming quite a ruthless character.  Yes, more than she was before.  She slapped Joffrey and threatened Littlefinger.  She even went as far as to have all of Robert’s bastards hunted and killed.  It was almost a little bit too much when they killed a baby bastard child but GoT does not skimp out on the reality.  She’s only going to get more cruel as they come but all she wants to do is protect her children.

Tyrion

I’ll say it right now that Tyrion is my favorite character.  He was may favorite character out of book 2 and was one of my favorites from season one.  For a little person he just has so much presence.  He’s well written and well acted.  He command’s every scene he’s in.  Tyrion shows up at King’s Landing to become Hand of the King in his father’s absence and is certainly making waves.  He is smart and cunning and I believe really just wants to do the right thing because he’s been scorned all his life.  He does, however, bring his whore Shae to court.  I don’t blame him for rebelling against his father plus who doesn’t want a little somethin’ somethin’ all the time.  Hats off to Peter Dinklage, you certainly earned those awards and I can see you in the running again.

So some characters were absent in this episode or we just haven’t had them introduced yet.  There we did not see King Renly or Brienne.  We won’t see Ygritte for a while nor Mance Rayder (the King beyond the Wall).  It was a really great start to the season and I can’t wait for next week.  I’m not really going to recap a lot of storyline because I’m going to assume that you all generally know the story.  I’m just going to continue to tell you what I liked and didn’t like in context.

Watch Game of Thrones at 9:00PM ET on HBO.  You can catch up On Demand or on HBO GO if you have it.

 

April Fools Day Adventure – VIDEO

Have you taken your April Fools Day adventure yet?  If you haven’t then you need to head over to Google Maps and start immediately.  I’ve got to hand it to the folks at Google yet again.  Their doodles this year have been top notch. I particularly like the leap day one.  This year’s April fools joke takes the Google Maps that you love and turns them into what they would look like on your old 8-bit NES.  It makes me feel like I’m playing an old Zelda game.  On top of that they’ve even rendered street view in 8-bit as well.  I’m not sure you can say that 8-bit graphics give you much detail but they did pay attention to detail when they created the whole map schema. I particularly like how they made the drop in blue pin a little adventure man.  So go ahead and check it out.  After the jump see how it looks and watch a video on how it’s done.

Before:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street View:

Game of Thrones Season 2 Excitement – The Cast “Undressed”

Game of Thrones Season 2 premieres in two days!  That’s right.  It’s this Sunday (4/1) at 9PM on HBO.  I came across this cool feature (courtesy of a friend) at Pajiba.com called the cast “undressed.”  No, they’re not naked, but they are out of makeup. This is great if you ever wondered what they looked like out of costume.  It’s cool even if you just want to see.  All of the actors could pretty much be models themselves.  The one attached here is of Harry Lloyd/Viserys Targaryan (SPOILER ALERT – DEAD), Emilia Clarke/Daenerys Targaryan and Richard Madden/Robb Stark.  For all the rest check out the source link above.  There are some good ones.  Don’t forget to read all the way through for an “interesting” George R.R. Martin video of him reading children’s fairy tales.  Hope you’re as excited for the season to premiere as I am.  Enjoy!

Michael Bay May Be Ruining Another One of Our Childhood Memories

Michael Bay may have ruined Transformers for some of us (well at least with the second two movies) and now he may be out to ruin another one of our childhood memories, the Ninja Turtles.  Yes, those turtles in a half shell (turtle power!) are coming back to the big screen under the direction of none other than mister big explosion CGI effects himself.  Now what’s upsetting people is the fact that he’s trying to change the backstory of the turtles.

We all know how the story goes.  Ooze (a toxic green liquid) causes some normal household turtles (and a rat) to mutate, grow, and turn into full size talking turtles.  They learn how to become ninjas and then become the Ninja Turtles fighting evil for truth, justice and a bigger slice of the pizza.  So very American and so very 90s.  The cartoons and the original movies all followed this backstory.

Apparently the script for the new movie has the turtles being from an alien planet.  What?!?!  How could they be quintessentially American (loving pizza and corny catch phrases) if they’re aliens?  Well that’s the dilemma isn’t it?  Michael Bay doesn’t want you to jump to conclusions yet and to “chill” out.  Yes he actually said “chill out.”  He went on to say this, according to the article, ”Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.”

So what do you think?  Outraged that yet another childhood memory has been taken away?  Do you really care?  Do you even want to see another Ninja Turtles movie?  Maybe Vanilla Ice can get on the new soundtrack?

90210 Recap – Blue Ivy – Show and Tell Blog

This is a repost from Jeni at the Show and Tell Blog as part of our partnership. Here’s the link to the original post at her site. Check this out and more great recaps.

Season 4, Episode 20
Blue Ivy

Before I dive into tonight’s new 90210 episode, I just want to point out that months ago I named a segment of my recap “Blue Ivy”—and it was even more timely given the birth of Beyonce’s baby. But, 90210 decided to call this entire episode Blue Ivy since it focused on the aftermath of Raj’s death.

  • P.I. for P.J.: Naomi is still suspicious from her sister’s vague warnings about Preston, a.k.a. P.J. So she obviously spazzes out and decides to follow him like a P.I. when he has to bail on their couples massage. She catches him in a shady parking lot receiving a package. She doesn’t want to open it—do you know how many times she has been arrested just this year—but is relieved to see they are just cigars. Since that can’t be the big secret, she presses him further and learns he is picking them up for Arnold, which makes him a Republican. Apparently Jenn hates Republicans—which I have difficulty believing—but Naomi claims she is totally cool with this. But now Preston sees another side of Naomi that he doesn’t like. Annie gets the real dirt on Preston’s situation when he tells her that if he is not married by the time he is 28 (which is in 2 weeks) he will lose his entire trust fund. He claims that he doesn’t want to tell Naomi because he has genuine feelings for her, so he doesn’t want Annie to say anything either. Even though he tells Annie that he will wait the two weeks until his birthday to see if the trust fund can be adjusted, he turns around and proposes to an ecstatic Naomi!
  • PILF: Annie is still bummed that her hot volunteer surfer dude, for whom she has the hots, is a “priest I’d like to f**k.” But she does still need him as a friend who can talk to a mourning Ivy. Annie comes close to confessing her feelings but chickens out. Not much else to report, other than that Caleb is instrumental in organizing a wake on the beach with an illegal fire.
  • To be or not to be: Vanessa is determined to make Liam a serious actor who can do indies. She even snags Liam a crazy big part in a movie despite Liam being rejected initially. When confronted, Vanessa admits that she blackmailed the movie exec “for Liam and their future.” FINALLY Liam wakes up and realizes that Vanessa is one giant liar and manipulator and tells her to leave. Wahoo!!! Unfortunately, I don’t think this girl will leave without a sinister plot. Liam immediately realizes that Vanessa stole all the money in the cash register and took their production company money. Sorry dude, but knowing what kind of person Vanessa is—and breaking up with her—you should have seen that coming and prevented it. But I do wonder if this is the last we will see of the schemer, or only the beginning of her revenge.
  • Back from Back East: Navid returns for Raj’s funeral and he is really hurt that so much drama has gone down among his friends and no one remembered what a cell phone is to bother calling him. Navid especially confronts Silver about her getting tested for the cancer gene and they get into a big fight—exactly what Silver didn’t want. She assumes Liam spilled the beans, but the two quickly realize that it must have been Vanessa. Later after the wake, Navid and Silver finally have a heart-to-heart and he tells her that he wants to be there for her. He is sorry she had to go through her problems alone, but Silver’s eyes reflect that she was not alone—she had Liam by her side. Silver runs home to finally face the mail and read her fate. Upon reading the bad news, she runs into the arms of…Liam. Yeah, this was a long time coming, but still ridic that Vanessa literally left the scene like 5 minutes ago.
  • Music of the Night: Dixon continues to keep his new recording contract a secret from Ade because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. Meanwhile, Ade doesn’t want to press Dixon on his strange behavior because she is worried the stress will cause more health scares. Adrianna eventually tracks Dixon down at a club where he will be performing with Haley Reinhart. Ade confronts Dixon just before Raj’s wake and things don’t go so well. He finally tells her about his contract and she is very hurt that he chose his career over her. They never get a chance to resolve things because Dixon takes off on tour with Haley. Not exactly the best way to save a relationship.
  • The “Waking” Dead: Caleb the soon-to-be-priest is able to get Ivy to talk about Raj, and she admits that the funeral was so off-putting because it didn’t reflect who Raj really was. Since her mother-in-law gave her the ashes, Ivy agrees to a more celebratory service for her late husband. The gang gives him a drunken-Irish wake to truly honor his personality. It is a nice scene and a great way to say honest goodbyes by sharing memories. Too bad we (the audience) have to take all these memories at their word—because we never experienced any of these moments. Therein lies the difference between this “spinoff” and the original series: in the original series we shared their memories; in this series, we are told their memories. Ivy brings it to a close with another good bit of acting—this time her anger at Raj leaving her—and that makes Ivy two-for-two in the drama department! Just when we thought that Ivy made progress in getting her grief out, she ends the episode by doing some dangerous night surfing.

And so we stay tuned until April 24!

Musing Review: Mad Men – A Little Kiss Parts 1 and 2 (S5, Ep1 Ep2)

This is a musing review of Mad Men Season 5 Episodes 1 and 2 entitled “A Little Kiss”

We were all excited to see what was going on in the world of Mad Men last night after over 500 days of being off the air.  So AMC treated us to a two part, slightly over two hours season 5 premiere.  I’d say for many people the bar was set high for one of their beloved dramas, mine was not set quite as high (relatively speaking) but Mad Men certainly hit their mark last night.  It was a jam packed episode that basically did a lot of catching up for us and was able to set up a lot of storylines that we’re bound to see throughout the remainder of the season.  The show looked great, it sounded great, the costumes were great and I think the acting was pretty top notch.  I’m going to try and be as spoiler free as possible in this review and I’m going to take it pretty much character by character after a bit of a world intro.

The world was indeed a-changin’. It was memorial day of what I believe to be 1966. The show opened to a picket line of black people (I hope that’s the most politically correct term in this sense) and priests outside of a Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce (SCDP) competitor. The scene had relatively young white employees of the competitor dropping water bombs on the protestors.  Its purpose was really to set up the feeling of this time period and illustrate the racism and angst surrounding the civil rights movement.  This scene actually becomes pretty pivotal to end of the episode.

Our first look at SCDP shows a healthier version of the company than when we left in season four.  They’re certainly not in dire straits but they’re not doing as well as they could be.  They’re still somewhat downsized as secretaries are sharing duties on multiple people.  The partners are not quite as busy when their calendars are showing up as pretty empty.  The company still occupies the same small space and things are a little bit chaotic.

Don

Don had quite an interesting story this week.  We opened up the episode to a Don being woken up by Sally, who now looks and sounds all grown up.  We saw his new bride, Megan, naked under the covers next to him.  He’s in a new house (NYC penthouse by the looks of it) and all of his kids are there.  These kids love their dad and we can see how their relationship dynamic has changed.  Sally seems a lot more grown up and is not the impetuous little girl anymore.  They spend the day together and when he drops them off we can really tell (at least I can) that he’s grown up as a father and really loved his kids.  He didn’t bring them to the door to see there mother, maybe he’s gotten past some of the drama and no longer wants to fight with Betty.  We’ll see, it wouldn’t be a good season of Mad men without a Don/Betty fight.

He seems very happy with his new bride.  They are still very much in love.  They travel to work together and can’t keep their hands off of each other.  Megan is no longer a secretary and is working for Peggy making coupons.  Don gets to review her work (with a little bit of conflict of interest I’m sure).

It happens to be Don’s 40th birthday (not Dick Whitman’s though) and Megan is throwing him a surprise party.  Don doesn’t like surprises, we all know that.  He’s a very lonely guy.  The party gets thrown and Roger happens to ruin it right before they walk in and we can tell Don is displeased.  The party looks fun though and is going “well” until Megan gives Don her birthday present.  She performs a French “burlesque” song “Zou Bisou Bisou” and does it really well (apparently you can buy it on iTunes).  Her singing and dancing was top notch.  Everybody loved it but Don, he felt embarrassed.  He ends up going to bed, unhappy and is mean to Megan (surprise, surprise) and she of course gets very upset.  I thought it was a very sweet thing to do for Don but Megan just didn’t get him in this sense.  He’d never had a birthday before and was upset that he was 40 and that he (Dick Whitman) was actually 40 for half a year.  This drove her away.

It didn’t help her that most of the office was “making fun of her” or at least now treating her as more of a sex object.  Harry Crane was the worst culprit and said very lude things right in front of her.  That day she went home very upset after a conversation with Peggy.  Once Don found out he went home and fought with Megan.  I thought this was going to be another one of Don’s “I can’t relate with you because I’m emotionally immature” moments but I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t turn out that way.  They made some passionate love and had a real heart to heart afterwards.  It was a true growth moment for them.  At the end of last season I was skeptical of this marriage but now I’m kind of rooting for it.  I’m really starting to like Megan.  She’s embodying this free spirit that a lot of people are relating too.

Roger

Roger seems to be the most out of touch with reality of the entire show.  He has nothing to do, drinks a lot, scours other people’s calendars to occupy himself. He throws money around like it means nothing.  He is seemingly adding nothing to the company either nor is he happy with his marriage.  This episode he really served as some sort of comic relief. He definitely has a role to play, I’m just not sure what it is yet.

Pete

Pete has been on the rise for quite a while and from what they showed us this week he is the reason that SCDP has been doing as well as its doing.  He’s been signing clients, working hard and is really pissed at Roger (seemingly for not doing anything).  He’s a dad now and lives in the suburbs too.  He’s got himself a little gaggle of other commuters that he commiserates with on the train.  I don’t think fatherhood is working out for him like he’d thought.  Maybe that’s why he’s been working so hard.  Trudy doesn’t want to leave the house and all of it is making him disenfranchised.

I’m guessing that his quarrels with Roger will be a lot of his storyline this season.  They’re always making snarky remarks at each other.  They’re pulling pranks. I hope it doesn’t get  too ridiculous cause it’s so easy to go overboard.  Pete even made a play for Roger’s office. Of course Roger didn’t give it up but he did make a deal with Harry to have him switch offices.  Roger may not like Pete (although I’ll say that is to be determined) but I’m pretty sure he does understand Pete’s value to SCDP.  I think Pete will shine, but will make mistakes along the way.  He’s still a relatively young man and hasn’t learned all the tricks of the trade that Don Co. know.

Lane

Lane has always been a character of interest for me.  It must be because he’s British and loves America so much.  (I also happen to love British TV shows – e.g. Doctor Who.)  His wife is back in America, at least for now, and he seemed to have it together.  Then we saw he had some money troubles and he started fawning over a woman he’d never met.  Yeah, weird.  He found a wallet inside a taxi cab and decided to return it to the owner himself.  When he went looking through he found a picture of a very pretty lady named Dolores who in fact called him to get the wallet back.  He was goo goo eyed just from hearing her voice and would have practically slept with her right then and there.  Don’t think it didn’t cross his mind.  I think he’s going to step out on his wife this season.  In addition to that he’ll continue to serve as the voice of reason amongst the partners and ensure things are held together.

Peggy

Peggy didn’t seem to have changed much.  She’s still a workaholic, perfectionist who is driven to success.  She’s also bitter.  Bitter over the way she feels she’s been treated.  She snaps at Don after a pitch goes bad then she snaps at Don again at his party.  She feels like she’s the center of the universe.  I think she resents Megan who started on Peggy’s track because she married Don, not because of her own merits.  I also think she’s jealous of Megan because she wants Don to focus his attention on her.  I liked that she still had that same boyfriend, it showed continuity of her character.  I’m actually not sure where her storyline will go (yet) though I’m sure it’ll cause some drama in the office.

Joan

In contrast to Peggy Joan’s life has really changed.  She had her baby and is raising him by herself.  Her mother is there to help though it’s causing much strife in the household.  Note that the baby was really cute.  Joan resents the fact that her husband is serving in the army and that she’s not working. She really loves SCDP and the family it brings her.  She freaked out when she thought that she was being replaced at the agency.  The scene where she finally went into the office was great in so many ways.  You could really see how much she missed the place and in turn how much the place needed her.  Lane went on to say how she was the “glue” that really held the place together and that they’re barely getting by.  I loved how they just passed her baby around.  It was most awkward to see Peggy and Pete have exchange of baby custody.  My forecast for her is that she’ll go back to work, have strife with her husband and be a kick ass woman.

Others

I’ll just lump everyone else together.  Basically Bert Cooper could have been a dog this episode.  I think he had 6 lines and served no purpose.  Harry and Ken were also pretty irrelevant though they did get some screen time.  Other than Harry’s office swap they had no significant additions to the story.  I have no idea what will happen to the three of them.  Trudy only showed up as arm candy at the party and one other scene so not a whole lot out of previous girl of the week crush Alison Brie.  We didn’t even get a glimpse of Betty and her husband this episode.  I think they’re going to want to bring back Betty in a big way and this episode was just too ful to do that.  Anything’s game when Betty comes back.

So to end this review on the note it started (with race) I tell you how Roger and Don played a prank on the competing agency by placing an advertisement calling SCDP an equal opportunity employer.  It was a jab at the other agency but a number of black applicants showed up to apply. One of the final scenes had the partners discussing what to do with the applicants.  Roger didn’t wanted to kick them out (he’s just sort of your grandfather’s racist – not that it was hate filled – but it was his norm), Cooper was scared and Pete was just unsure.  In my opinion Don really stepped up in the moment when he said “why don’t we just hire one?”  It was just so matter of fact, it wasn’t a civil rights crusade, or anything like that.  Don just didn’t see the difference in skin color.  That wasn’t the norm of the 60s and that can tell us a lot about how we should all act today.  I love how Don acted that way.

After writing that whole review I’ll still say I liked the episode.  A lot went on and a lot has been set up for the season.  The visuals were great.  I’ll add that I loved the SCDP logo.  I look forward to the next epsidoes.

Watch Mad Men on AMC Sundays at 10:00PM.  You can try and catch up while available on AMCTV.com.