Mad Men Review: "Public Relations"
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.
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.
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.
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Mad Men: "Public Relations"
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.