Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Mad Men - ' The Good News' - Maybe The Next Time

Quite the economical episode of Mad Men this week, covering a lot of ground efficiently, whilst doing it as elegantly as ever. The year so far is maintaining a consistency of quality which is pleasing to see, but its yet to have an episode to explode off the screen in the way we know it can. Still only three episodes in, no need to panic yet, particularly when the average episode is as strong and as rich as this.

- First Dick Whitman action of the season, and it presented a pleasing shift of the Dick and Don dynamic. With Don's carefully constructed identity and life a pretty bleak place to be in right now, wifeless, kidless and enjoying the regular company of prostitutes. Classy ones to be sure, this is Mad Men, but the world of Don Draper is a solitary place, even more then its ever been. Returning to California and to the tolerating and essentially loving company of Anna Draper, who as she says knows everything about him and still loves him. Something Don doesn't believe to be possible.

- Melinda Page Hamilton does well in the role of the understanding Anna, and brings a real warmth to the episode and to Don's currently bleak existence. Excellent range of skills demonstrated by Jon Hamm this week by the way, and his switching between Don and Dick is pretty awesome, playing the latter with a smile and vulnerability contrasting nicely with the exquisitely subtle 'leave me the fuck alone' performance he gives week in week out as Don.

- The scene Don shared with Anna's niece Stephanie dancing to Patti Page's 'Old Cape Cod' was one of the most relatable moments he's ever had. It reminds him of a beautiful place he wishes he could go to, but probably never will. You can't make me cry Mad Men, I'm a man who plays sports and shit.

- Anna's cancer probably takes Dick Whitman with it, as she seems to be the only person our man of two names has ever been able to truly be himself around. So dies the boy and leaves the man to rot right?

- Of course what was awesome is that all this took place in the first half hour, and the second saw Don go on a late night, Dec.31 odyssey with Lane Pryce. I believe I complained last week that Jared Harris doesn't get much room to breathe with the character of Lane, but he sure got a showcase this week. It was as much about interrelating Lane into the gang, as it were. As he and Don went to the movies, ate at restaurants, took in comedy clubs and capped it off by screwing some prostitutes. Happy 1965.

- Harris was unexpectedly hilarious in all these scenes, particularly shouting Monster in a Japanese accent, as well as handling the 'my wife's divorcing me' moment pretty well. Lane has always been an outsider on this show but this episode was exactly what the character needed. Its as if the writers of Mad Men predict all my potential complaints and address them one by one. Fucking responsible writers.

- Also this episode is serious Emmy submission material for Hamm, who plays the subtly different incarnations of who he was and can't be any more and who he is perfectly. From how sympathetic he is with Anna to how Don like he is with Lane. Good stuff.

- Also, Joan. Its nice to see Joan get a storyline of her own, and Hendricks was as good as always. Planning to have her baby with her surgeon/rapist husband Greg, in spite of his serving in the military and foreshadowing him going to Vietnam ( And lets face it y'all, Probably get wasted.) But I very much appreciated the scene where Greg took care of her cut finger, with Joan almost not trusting him to do it, but whatever he is and whatever he has done, he can do this for her.

-It was a nice moment for Dr. Rapist to be honest. The show made him a bit of a screw-up in the past, and while on the whole he probably is a dick, giving him a moment of humanity and complexity was good writing. Particularly now they are clearly going to kill him off-screen.

- ' I can't fix everything, but I can fix this.'

- How ridiculously 60's was that shot of Don in the convertible sports car. I felt like I was watching a commercial or something.

- Another tonally consistent, fantastically written episode of this show that seems to consistently remind me that I should have missed it more then I did. I may be a Breaking Bad guy, but that doesn't make this show any less a milestone then it is.

Rating: 8/10

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