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Mad Men Review: Spring Cleaning the Carpet

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The times they are a changin'. Although it was only seven or eight months since Don went to California with Megan in the Mad Men season four finale, everything felt different in "A Little Kiss."

Don and Megan couldn't keep their hands off of each other, even as they walked into work together, Pete and Roger were nearly at each other's throats attempting to gain the advantage within SCDP, Joan was at home taking care of her new born, and Peggy was working day and night, managing very little success.

Okay, so maybe that last one was exactly what we've seen from Peggy for a few years now, but there was definitely a different vibe to start the season. The period we were watching only moved from October of 1965 to Memorial Day of 1966, but the 1950s feeling of previous seasons was almost entirely gone, which was no more evident than at Don's surprise party.

The lighting, the decor, the attitudes, and a certain performance by a former secretary made the event seem like a portrayal of the changing times.

Mad Men Season 5 Premiere Pic

Honestly, the first 45 minutes or so were basically just setting the scene for the new season, so it was a smart move to make this premiere two hours long.

After that, though, everything began to pick up, starting with Don's surprise 40th birthday party! The party was just great moment after great moment. I knew it was going to be a gathering to remember by Don's reaction to seeing Roger outside of his door. No...no... He didn't say anything else. Don just walked right in the door like hadn't just said that.

From the strange array of guests that were at the party, to Peggy's blunt comment about work to Don and Megan, it was great to be a fly on the wall at that event. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could be compared to Megan's performance, though.

Zou Bisou Bisou indeed. I was captivated throughout that song, and during the entire episode for that matter, both with how interesting Megan was as a character, and how wonderful Jessica Pare was at playing her.

Her infatuation with Don, her want for excitement, the fact that she called out Peggy for being a jerk, her wondering what the heck is wrong with all of the people at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and her twisted underwear cleaning bit, made for one hell of a coming out party for Megan Draper and Jessica Pare.

The most interesting thing about Megan's piece of this puzzle will be how it affects Don. Will her personality rub off on him? Or will he revert back to his old ways?

The best inclination of Megan being able to help Don was when he first wanted to go to bed after the party. He just wanted to hide from the embarrassment, but Megan was able to get him to roll over and talk about it. That's not something we probably would have seen from him with any other woman. I have faith that she is good for him, and if not, I know that she's good for me as a viewer.

I also really enjoyed the rapidly increasing level of competition between Pete and Roger. It is so extremely clear that Pete is the one bringing in all of the clients for SCDP - and he's working nearly every hour of the day to make that happen - but Roger's is still doing his best to poach off of the junior partner.

You had to give it up to Petey for continuing to go for the throat, even after he worked his way into a bigger office. Making that fake meeting at 6 a.m. with Coca Cola was great, and watching Roger slowly wake himself up before dawn to attempt to steal the client was hilarious!

Joan and Lane were also highlighted throughout the two hours, but I was far less interested in their stories. Unlike everyone else in the world, I've never enjoyed Joan all that much, and that didn't change here as she struggled with her life transition.

Lane, on the other hand, I have always liked, but his plot dealing with the lost wallet didn't really seem to have a point. He acted like a little school boy with a crush for a while, but when she didn't show up, the whole thing kind of lost its footing. If the lovely Delores makes a valiant return, maybe this was a nice starting off point.

Whether it was a new wife, a new office, a new baby, or the potential of fling, things were changing for our friends on Madison Avenue in "A Little Kiss." Maybe most shocking of all... Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce basically backed themselves into a corner and started taking resumes from some African-American ladies, who wanted jobs as secretaries.

What did you think of the Mad Men season five premiere? Was it worth the long hiatus? What change were you most surprised by? Which has you the most excited? And maybe most importantly, how many times are you going to watch Megan's performance before next week's episode?

Review

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

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (209 Votes)

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

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I love this show even when I hate it.
Everyone else seems to like Megan, but to me she is as childish as Betty. Instead of Betty's whiny 6 yr old style, she throws un-self aware tantrums, like a young Helen Keller at a dinner party. I wonder if Don has finally met someone who is out to use him, and even though I want to slap him (and again..and harder),there is something deeply depressing about seeing the man who stuffed a cheque down a hipster's cleavage and told her to buy a car appear doddering and soft. After years of vilifying Betty, in 2 hrs,'Morticia' seemed alright. Remember Don telling Betty not to wear a bikini because it was 'desperate'? Then what is Zou Bisou?! Don is dazzled by the newness just like Roger with Jane, and I think that is just how this will end. Besides, remember Don and Roger's oyster and cheesecake lunch in Season 1 where they discuss Lucy and Desi marrying for a second time? I've always suspected that there would be a remarriage of a first spouse, and now I can't believe I hope it is Betty. Don needs some dignity back. In Pete's words, I don't like him like this.
Also, I wonder if anyone else is liking Pete Campbell this season. He seems to be the only person who cares about SCDP and all of a sudden, he's the only adult. Some people see him as annoyingly ambitious and maneuvering, but I think he is carrying more than his share and being treated with disregard just because he isn't personally popular. He has proven to be valuable and loyal, and yet he's reviled.
Harry just became an awful person.
Sweet Joan. Who wouldn't like her? The confidence she wears like a wool sheath dress over a slip over a girdle makes sense when you see how hard she must have had to work to harden that chrysalis with such a critical and dismissive mother who values her so little. And doesn't she look amazing in pink!

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You Don't Have To Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield

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I LOVED the show as well. BUT I do not agree with your take on Joan. I think she is very interesting and essential to the show..imo of course!

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What's the name of the song that played into the ending credits???? Oh and that LET ME SEE MY BABY line was hilarious!

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I was hoping that Megan was going to jump off the balcony. Only way to watch this show is after it's taped to get through the tons of commercials. Impossible to follow the storyline when it gets interrupted every six minutes or so.

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@Ryan Thank you, I was thinking the same thing (unless the show writer's continuity is all wrong). There were quite a few hints it was later than '66; radio reports in the background and at Don's party talking about race riots, Don's youngest looks to be around 2 1/2. But then how could Joan's baby be a newborn? Unless the blog writer is mistaken of the year season 4 left off.

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@Alex Roggio - It is the same kid! How cool must it be to have been on two episodes of television for two different television series on the exact same night, at the exact same time! Being that this was a Mad Men season premiere, I thought it was great. Even though it didn't move very fast, it's always very refreshing to not have spoilers, or any big gimmicks to get an audience to tune in/wait for throughout the episode. I liked that there were little bits of character development - not drastic, just enough to notice that there was a bit of a jump in time - even if I didn't exactly like HOW the characters developed. I'm with Peggy on not recognizing Don, and it freaks me out! They also gave us a couple of stories to look forward to, like Lane's money issues and the Joan and Megan awkwardness. Overall, SCDP felt very bland (or stable, to refer to Pete and Ken's conversation)...but I'm thinking that'll work itself out over the course of the season.

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I was slightly disappointed in Don. He is turning into a dirty old man.

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where are you getting 1966? In the first scene theres a 68 Goldwater sign taped to the window of the assholes dropping water bombs.

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Ahhh... Season 5
Isn't this why we all love Mad Men? It's one big roller coaster ride. If you're not enjoying the ride... This might be the time to exit. Cause no one knows what twist, turns and loops are coming.
Love it, hate it, OR just like it... I got my fix!
I could've sat thru 3 hours of this stuff!
Mad Men, where are you takin me? I'm all in!