Saturday, August 27, 2011

Late to the Party - Mad Men Season 2

Pete and his shorts!
I really enjoyed the second season of Mad Men.  It's a consistently good show all around.  In fact I think instead of suffering a sophomore slump the writing was even better in this season.  I think the directors are having a bit more fun and are being a bit more creative.

It truly feels like a journey.  But is it a journey for the characters? For the firm? For America?  All of it?  Doesn't matter.  It's an obvious journey of Forrest Gump proportions but it's incredibly enjoyable one.

Some episodes of note:

2.4 "Three Sundays"  The image above was from this episode which may have been my favorite.  It had a different feel to it.  While the story didn't depart from their typical office and home content it sped through, as the title informs, three consecutive Sundays while everyone prepared the pitch for American Airlines.  They relied quite a bit on non-verbals from the background actors (the secretarial pool and no name worker dudes) and it totally worked. It also saw more of Peggy's life and introduced welcomed actor Colin Hanks (!) as Father Gill.  The editing seems heavy-handed but was cool nonetheless.

2.9 "Six Month Leave" My third favorite Murray brother, Joel, shined in this episode.  His drinking problem comes to light and Roger and Don take him out for one last night of boozing before he has to take a forced leave to get dry.  But thanks to Murray's Fred Rumsen and his alcoholic ways, Peggy is given the chance to shine herself.  She hits a home-run with the Samsonite folks and it marks the beginning of a winning streak for her character.  She even ends up getting Fred's office later in the season, though it's not the way she wanted it.

2.10 "The Inheritance"  There's not much to say about this one besides the fact that I think the writers were trying to generate some sympathy for Betty.  Not gonna happen.  Not as long as you have January Jones playing her.  I have furniture less wooden.

2.12 "The Mountain King" This episode took the biggest departure from their typical formula.  In fact you feel like Don is having an out-of-body experience but L.A. will do that to you.  I loved his scenes with Anna, I won't spoil who she is if you haven't seen the show.  There were times I wasn't sure if we were flashing back or in the present but it all added up to being a great episode.

2.13 "Meditations in Emergency" The final episode of the season (note how most of my faves were towards the end?) spent lots of time bringing the season back together.  Big changes are afoot at Sterling Cooper and somehow weaselly Pete comes to the rescue and Don emerges a better man.  Well a better man work-wise.  His private life, though possibly better after his break in LA, will never be what it once was.  Joan, who is growing to be one of my absolute favorite characters, gets some of the best lines.  The poor thing has such a horrible thing happen to her and yet still yearns to believe that the man she's marrying is truly a good man.  In fact it even seems like she might want to connect with Peggy and establish a friendship.  Alas it is not to be because Peggy is a bit more concerned about getting the name changed on the door to her new office. Fred Rumsen, who?

I think the coolest thing about the show is the final shot of each episode.  Those shots speak volumes as to the development of the character and/or the story.  A single light through a window, a lone suitcase on a doorstep, or a conversation not being had do more to push this show forward than the previous 40+ minutes. 

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