Mad Men Review: "Public Relations"

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One of the true staples of Mad Men has been how astonishingly good Don Draper is at his job.  That is precisely why this season four premiere, "Public Relations," was a fantastic episode of television.

The episode opens with the great Donald Draper being interviewed for an article on him and the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce advertising  agency.  Whether it's because he's too unhappy with his current life situation, or because midwesterners really don't like talking about themselves, Don butchered this interview.

He gave the reporter nothing, and in doing so he gave him something.  It was so easy to portray Don and the company in a boring if not completely negative light because of this lackluster interview.  The irony is through the roof here, as Don is failing to do what we've seen him do time and time again; take something ordinary and sell it like it's a magical rainbow.

Taking a Drag

As the episode went along Don slowly but surely figured out how to get his groove back.  Sure he defended his antics throughout, but eventually he realized the error in his ways.  The moment the light bulb should have gone off was when Don's defense of "What am I supposed to say anyway? My work speaks for me." was met firmly by Bert Cooper's "Turning creative success into business IS your work.  And you failed."

Once Don realizes he can use the skills we all know he possesses to turn this interview into one big ad pitch, he slays it.  In his second interview, this time with the Wall Street Journal, Don spins the story of "scrappy upstart" Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce into a tale of legendary standards.  And the smile on his face while he does it is as good as it gets.

There was plenty of other action to go around in this fourth season opener, as Don's new home life is explored, Pete and Peggy go behind Don's back on a project, and Betty's problems with men and children continue in new ways.

Although he was mostly a sullen man for the first three seasons, it was extremely hard to watch Don come home to that lonely apartment this week.  I know he got what he deserved (in divorce), but I used to like when he would come home to his loving kids and fight with his wife.  Instead he is now coming home to an empty apartment, shining his shoes, and making his own bed.

Pete, Don and Roger

Individually, they are two characters I have never enjoyed, so when Pete and Peggy join forces it is never a story line I am excited about.  This week's adventure in SugarBaby Ham was no different.  I really couldn't have cared less about where that ended up.  Campbell continues to be the smarmy kiss up, while Peggy truly has transformed into a confident working woman.

I realize I'm in the minority, but I have always been a fan of Betty Draper (and no not just because she is so very attractive).  Maybe it's because of how bad I felt for her when Don would treat her like garbage, but I didn't get annoyed by her like I know most others do.  That is, until this whole thing with Henry Francis started.  I don't like this guy, and I don't like Betty being with him.  I'm glad to see that Henry's mother isn't a fan of the situation either.  I hope she convinces him to break it off.

All in all it was a great start to the fourth season of Mad Men.  Obviously Matthew Weiner and company have their reasons, but I would have enjoyed watching the journey of SCDP getting to where they are today.  Watching them work out of a hotel room for an episode or two would have been very interesting.  I'm glad though that they didn't skip too far ahead so we can see the new agency as this "scrappy upstart.

Did you enjoy the Mad Men Season 4 premiere?


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (13 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I found it weird that Betty Draper isn't Betty Draper anymore. Her name is like a brand, which is pretty ironic. I also found it strange that Betty handled the situation with Sally so harshly in front of guests. It was kind of awkward. Betty is a housewife, she wouldn't have been so rough in front of people. Especially not in front of in-laws she was trying to impress. I would like to have seen her get ready for that dinner. After all, she's never had to deal with the mother in law before. I agree that the Francises need to move out of Don's house. I don't know why they're still there. Other then the fact that Betty isn't over Don. 11 years of marriage and 3 children is a lot to forget about. Henry's a fool for pushing her. I liked the Pete and Peggy story line, I loved when it backfired and they were like two little school kids. Don has been ripped apart, his family has basically replaced him. So I understand why a reporter trying to pry would make him uncomfortable.


It's nice to see a fan stick up for Betty. Henry Francis was a way out for her and that's it. She doesn't love him. Last season, remember when Don said to Betty "I was surprised that you ever loved me." I was reminded of that line when Don wanted to be slapped by the prostitute. He thinks he should be hit, not loved. It actually explains a lot about his reckless behavior with relationships.


The show was great! can't say the same about the review above...


Claire, I did not notice Pete's comment to Roger. You are absolutely right that he has evolved over the three seasons, but I couldn't get over the way he acted towards the reporter at the restaurant. As soon as he found out the gentleman lost his leg in Korea he immediately stepped in to thank him, while Roger and Don carried on joking about it. Classic Pete. -QP


I actually liked the Peggy/Pete story. It demonstrated that advertising is going to have to soon compete with PR (which is everything today, I know people in advertising who loathe those in PR). Thought Joey was adorable and cannot wait to see his back ground story. Pete is not just a kiss up anymore. Did you notice that he told Roger they do not have time for a drink? I also thought it was interesting the Don wanted to be slapped. He does not think he deserves to be loved. Kind of sad really.


Chattolanee, you must be an arrogant private school prick. I guess they teach English grammar in private schools, but not good graces.


AL, I completely agree with your point about Don taking himself (and almost everything else) too seriously. His drive of having to be the best takes over at times and it's hard for him to see things in a different light. Although the Jansen people's idea of a quality campaign wasn't going to make them a lot of money, it was the campaign that fit their company. Don is currently the type of person who can't understand that and it will be nice to see if that changes at all in the future. -QP

Al in germany

Good review. I agree for the most part. I actually enjoyed the Pete / Peggy story, it was fun seeing their youthful enthusiasm run a little out of control. Don is great at his job, but he also takes himself far too seriously sometimes. I sympathised with Betty whilst she was married to Don and he was cheating on her, now I just find her to be highly strung and immature. I'm guessing her character will be developed more during S4, because at the moment she's not great. Anyway, the episode showed the big shake-ups that happened in the intervening months. It also sets the scene well for the coming season.


Thanks for the help. How'd you like the episode?


"The moment the light bulb should have went off..." You must be a public school graduate. Correct English: " gone off."

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Mad Men Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Roger: What happened there?
Jack: Korea.
Peter: We're grateful for your sacrafice.

Jack: Who is Don Draper?
Don: Excuse me?