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Mad-men

Mad Men Review: Such a Happy Dick

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I love when Mad Men does this.  Even though it is a show filled with an exorbitant amount of great characters, sometimes it is nice when they have an hour focusing on just a couple.  Due to New Year's, this week in "The Good News" we left the day-to-day of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and focused on Don, Joan and Lane.

Don Draper, this week taking on his real identity of Dick Whitman, every so often heads out to California to visit with the real Donald Draper's wife, Anna.  Instead of drowning into an abyss of depression, like he did at Christmas, this man seems to enjoy himself so much when he goes out to the west coast.  Whether it is his extreme satisfaction with the relationship he has with Anna, or just the pleasant SoCal weather, he has come out from under the rock he was laying under last week.

Don't get me wrong, he's still completely troubled, but he wasn't afraid to smile this week.  Of course it was easy to smile when Anna's college-aged niece was being so young and beautiful.  Just like last week, Dick was not afraid to roll the dice with this young girl.  Like the nurse down the hall, though, she shot him down.  This time the girl meant business though as it was not just a "no."  It was a "no, and you're fake ex-wife has cancer."

Ouch.

As Dick Whitman

Yes, the original Mrs. Draper has cancer and to make things worse, she doesn't even know it.  The doctor, Anna's sister, and Anna's niece all think she'd be better off not knowing about it and just finding out when she is about to kick the bucket. 

Don originally hates this idea, but after watching how much she is enjoying her life, he ultimately decides to join the crew and keep things quiet.  He heads home to New York later that night and celebrates New Year's Eve on the red-eye.

So Don then comes back to NYC and finds an empty office.  Well, empty other than a lonely Lane Pryce, going over the figures for the umpteenth time.  Rather than continue to waste their lives away, the two men decide to go out for a night on the town.  Boy, was this fun.

It's these moments when Don gets to connect with someone new that I enjoy so much.  Lane compares Don to "a chap from school that they all used to follow around in a pack, and he didn't notice they were there."  So the fact that Don is going out of his way to take Lane to a movie, a restaurant, a comedy show and finish the night off with a couple of prostitutes, made it that much better.  Lane really came out of his shell with Don - and, heck, he even paid for his $25 hooker.

Meanwhile, Joanie got her first real screen time of the season. First, she went to the doctor to see about starting a family with her doctor husband.  There, we learned she had had two abortions in her life.

Then, because of Greg's hectic work schedule, Joan can't get New Year's off like the rest of the agency.  When she asks for a couple days off during the middle of January instead, Lane refuses and her life continues to be horrible.

So trying to celebrate a Happy New Year with Greg, Joanie sets up some dinner and prepares to make fresh squeezed orange juice before she slices her finger wide open.  Greg does a fantastic job suturing up his wife and Joan can't help but turn on the faucets.  "Everything's gonna be okay," Greg says, referring to his eventually call to Vietnam.

She simply replies, "When?"  Good question, Joan. Good question.

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Those who thought that Allison was typing her resignation last week, they were wrong.  You see to me, it was as if she was upset with the situation but was getting right back to the grind.  This week proved that she is nothing but professional as she was right back to doing a great job as Don's secretary (not an easy task).
  • The dancing in the background of the LA bar was fantastic to see.
  • Nobody ever seems to remember that Peggy currently has a boyfriend. After telling Joan that she has to buy a dress, Joan replies "big group of girls , you'll wanna stand out." 
  • Better than the writer call back is the character call back.  When Don spills his drink all over the floor, Lane tells him its all over the rug.  Just as Anna told Don a few days earlier, Don explained that "they'll have to smoke the dress."  Lane, rightfully so, didn't understand the phrase.
  • I got a big Texas belt buckle...yee haw!!!" Lane Pryce, enough said.

This was a great episode to escape into a bit, a "welcome distraction" as Lane said, but I am looking forward to more Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce action next week.  How about you?

Lane

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
  • 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (10 Votes)

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

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@ Joy, potraying men like that is kind of the point of the show...

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I've come to really despise many of the characters on Mad Men. First and foremost Don Draper. What a puck. In his overwhelming inner self pity he says things like, "The moment I told Betty who I reallyy was, I knew she didn't want me." or words to that effect. Actually NO. She told you well before she knew all of that stuff about your background that she was falling out of love for you because you left her at home alone all the time, constantly. Because you came home at odd hours smelling like the stale juices of your affairs, time after time after time. Because you couldn't care less about her or the house or even your children until you basically lost them. The lies about your past were just icing on the cake. You are a self deluded liar who married a pretty face full well and then kept her in the dark until you strangled her shot at happiness and did the same to your kids. Don Draper really sucks as a person. Some of the characters are interesting, mostly the women. The men are just stale lackluster one sided aces with no soul. The show should be called Mud Men.

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Jared Harris is Richard Harris' son. This series astounds me with its layered reference. Jared Harris getting a birthday bottle of single malt scotch from his father is but one of the many many things in this episode that shows what close attention the writerz and show runner pay to the story. This episode is one that the callow will call dull or frivolous, but just you wait. This is television as it has not been since the live plays of the 50's. Bravo, Mr. Wiener.