Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Mad Men: 'Christmas Comes But Once A Year' - I'll Never Do What The Swedish People Do

- The show continues it's strong start, and while this episode is perhaps less substantial then the last, it's still a terrific hour of TV. What is notable about recapping Mad Men is that it feels on closer inspection a lot less episodic then the two shows I've covered before, Lost and Breaking Bad. I would say that individual episodes of those shows have a distincter identity in and of themselves then an average episode of Mad Men. There are exceptions to this, the JFK episode stands out to me, but generally its a show about the bigger picture, where moments pay off beats 10 or eleven episodes ago without the need to clarify themselves. Its like The Wire in that respect, only replacing labyrinthine plotting with labyrinthine character drama. This is neither a plus or a minus to the show, but its interesting to note.

- So to start off, I liked the Sally Draper plot in this episode. Enamored with creepy neighbor kid Glen, returning from season 1, and detailing to him how truly disparaging it is to be a Draper child. And in a consequent gesture that I can only deduce to be an act of courtship, Glen trashes Henry and Betty's home, a place she has come to resent, and leaves her room clear. Erm, buy a consonant for the word sociopath? Still, it impressed Sally, who may have found herself a delinquent and creepy boyfriend.

- So given the current belt-tightening at the agency, Uptight Brit and not a stereotype at all Lane Pryce decides that minimalism will be the theme of the Christmas party this year, which irritates all those fun-loving Americans no end. Unfortunately for financial responsibility, plans change when Lee Garner Jr, Lucky Strike big man, announces his plan to attend.

- I like Jared Harris on this show, and while he has a tough role with Pryce, I think he does a good solid job with it.

- Don meets a quirky new neighbor in Nora Zehetner, who y'all might remember from playing the chick who could control people's minds on the first season of Heroes. Anyway, I cared for these scenes less then Don's date last week and just felt a little simpler. We're not done with her I'm sure.

- The Christmas party sequence was terrific, again because so much of what is happening isn't being said. I very much appreciated it when Roger took Lee's baiting and attempts to humiliate him rather then do what most shows would have done and have him explode at him. I think they call it taking one for the team. Even if you have to dress up like Santa.

- The scene between Don and and the Demographic lady was good, with her confronting him after he walked out on her survey. Don being Don, he doesn't want to fill out any information about himself, but she called him out on this pretty good. Life is a mixture of what you want and what's expected of you, after all.

- ' I'm sorry, nobody likes to think of themselves as a type.'

-Poor Allison the secretary. What a gutting episode this was for her. That was a dark sublot wasn't it. Drunk Don leaves his keys at the office, and when Allison brings them to him, he comes on to her and shit goes down. The next day, 'thank you for bringing me my keys.' Her face of pure joyful expectancy made that pretty hard to watch. Then to kick her in the face when she's down, Don gives her a previously discussed bonus in two fifties. Way to make a girl feel like a cheap hooker Don. A brilliantly acted scene by Alexa Alemmani.

- Don Draper, fighting back feminism, one girl's self respect at a time.

- At a side note, if this show has a sad sack, its probably Harry Crane.

- Another great episode for Elisabeth Moss, who seems to be being given far and away the most material of the female cast members this season, liked her scenes with the now reformed Freddie. Who may be reformed, but is still an outdated relic, believing all women define themselves by men and all just want to get married to somebody.

- Not a momentous episode, and still not enough Joan Holloway, but its a confident start to season 4, and the new status quo is continuing to work well for it.

Rating: 7/10

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