Tag Archives: Roger Sterling

Mad Med Episode 513: “The Phantom” Finale

Considering that in the past two weeks the notoriously slow-paced Mad Men had one of its oldest and most popular characters leave the firm followed by one of the partners killing themselves I was expecting, as probably was the fan base at large, some sort of momentous season finale cliff hanger. That clearly was not in the cards. While the season finale, by regular episode standards, did have a couple of surprises, as a season-ender it fell a bit short as far as drama goes.

The episode was titled “The Phantom” and we are treated with phantoms both literally and figuratively. Don, feeling the stress and guilt of Lane’s suicide, is habitually visited throughout the episode by his brother, whom was also a suicide victim and receiver of Don’s tough love. We also get a Peggy Olson appearance this week, and hopefully this will quell the rumors that Elisabeth Moss is done with Mad Men, and she is more than a Phantom. Peggy has her own storyline in fact as she is handed a new account for women’s cigarettes that will, as we know, eventually become Virginia Slims and a major marketing success in its own time. We are witness to a nice conciliatory meeting between Don and Peggy at the movie theater, sans handy I would assume, and the puzzling image of dogs humping outside of Peggy’s Virginia hotel room. It looks like Peggy is here to stay and thank goodness for that.

The other major phantom of the episode comes in the form of Pete’s on-again off-again affair partner whom we learn is the frequent victim/consumer of electroshock therapy. After an uncomfortable encounter on the train, Pete gets a booty call from Beth Dawes and skips out on the Partners meeting for the liaison. Here he learns about her treatment and her desire to have one last fling before her memory is erased and all memories of Pete Campbell are gone. I’m sure there are some people out there who would jump at the chance to have all memories of Pete Campbell erased from their mind, but he does such a good job of being a dick you just shouldn’t do that to yourself. As an added bonus we also get to see Pete punched in the face two more times this episode! He really is a despicable character when as soon as you start to feel for the guy after he opens his heart to the post trauma Beth and confronts her scumbag husband, he acts like a total prick to the good-natured train cop and you are once again cheering as Pete takes another shot to the kisser. Whomever came up with this gem will have to update it with the new footage.

The cliff-hanger for the season finale hinges upon Don and Megan’s relationship. Megan’s acting career has continued to flounder and in this episode she gets desperate and stabs her friend in the back by asking Don to consider her for a commercial that SCDP will be producing instead of her considering her friend who had asked the favor. Megan’s mother is in town, rekindling her romance with Roger Sterling, and Megan’s depressive ways lead to a confrontation between her and Don which may have been the key to changing Don and Megan’s relationship as a whole. Megan’s mom describes her as someone with an artist’s sensibility without the artists talent. Don, after watching Megan’s test reel, acquiesces to her desires and gets her the commercial gig. The big question though, the one we are left with as the woman down the bar hits on Don asking “if he is alone”, is whether or not Don has lost respect for Megan. Did he give in and get her the gig because he really thinks she deserves it and just hasn’t gotten her break, or is he secretly disgusted at her lack of gumption and willingness to work hard at her art and gave her the job because it’s proof to her callous need to be spoiled. Fortunately the wait for season 6 will be significantly shorter than the wait for season 5 was, but still is too long if you ask me.

Two other things from the finale. SCDP is apparently making money hand over fist and will be moving into a larger space and Roger Sterling is doing LSD again… see gratuitous man ass.

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Review AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 509 “Dark Shadows”

Before we get to this weeks episode, that despite it’s name has no goofy vampires played by Johnny Depp, we must quickly go over the happenings in Episode 508 “Lady Lazarus” which missed it’s review last week. (sorry)

We start the week with Peggy playing her increasingly frequent new role of being a jealous bitch. She is upset that Megan has had such an easy time being a copywriter and doesn’t seem to be enjoying her success. After taking a verbal scalding Megan decides it’s not only that her father doesn’t believe in her capitalistic ventures, but also that Peggy is right that her heart isn’t in it which leads her to quit SCDP to return to what she believes she is destined for; acting. Don is not pleased but he hides it well, from Megan anyways. At this point if Megan curled up to him and said “Don, I think I’m going to drive across country in the nude murdering and pillaging as I roam because that’s the best thing for me!” you almost feel he would grudgingly agree with her.

The other big development of the week comes in the form of Pete Campbell’s continued emulation of the Don Draper of old. When he finally meets the wife of his train companion, a sexy turn by Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel, Pete eventually caves to her advances and has a one-night fling. We quickly learn the difference between Don behaving badly and Pete behaving badly however. Campbell becomes a puppy and quickly becomes absolutely obsessed with Beth Dawes, following her around and even entering her home on the pretenses of buying life insurance from her husband. She insists it was a one time thing, but ends the episode by giving Pete a glimmer of hope in his schoolboy heart by drawing a heart in the fog of her windshield as he sheepishly looks on.

As the episode closed, we are given a brief moment where, in an attempt to get Don up to speed, Megan buys him the newest Beatles album – Revolver. This scene is present to help display just how out of touch Don is, and it wasn’t a cheap example either. According to the New York Time, the show’s producers had to drop $250,000 to play the track. Which is probably why it picks back up during the credits. Waste not…

In “Dark Shadows” we see a little bit more of what is becoming an increasingly disturbing fact; Don is getting old and losing his touch. As we’ve come to learn, Don has lost touch with modern music and “what kid’s like these days” and has been so head over heels with Megan that he hasn’t been putting in the office time either. At the beginning of the episode he look over the copy work and realizes for the first time what everyone else knows. His hand isn’t in any of it. Thus when it’s time for Don to make the pitch to the Sno Cone execs and the choice is between Ginsberg’s series, which people seemed to prefer over Don’s Sno Cone eating devil. Guess which ad piece got left in the cab. Don’s ad piece isn’t bad, in fact it’s good enough to make the sale but that’s not the point. It’s the first time we see Don’s cracks when it comes to advertising. He sounds lame as he tries to sell the devil’s creepy voice and has clearly become out of touch with not just the youth of the day, but the youth of his own office. This also opens up a new Mad Men rivalry between the young and the old where we find an ignoble and emboldened Michael Ginsberg flying in the face of the man he once so admired. It will be interesting to see how Don handles this new metamorphosis into the figurehead role that has already claimed Sterling and Cooper. As Don regresses it will also be interesting to see if the absence of Megan from his everyday office life will sully the sheen of new love and open the door for the Don of old’s philandering ways.

Speaking of old dogs learning new tricks, Roger has become a little fed up with being strictly a schmoozer and wants to take his rivalry with Campbell to a new level by actually bringing in client of his own, namely Manishewitz wine. As Roger is technically still married to a honest to goodness Jew he enlists Jane’s help to impress his client at his upcoming dinner meeting. He also enlists the other reigning Jew on the SCDP staff, wonderboy Ginsberg, to make him look smart with a winning advertising proposal. The meeting goes well but Roger still manages to make a mess of things when he rekindles the romance with Jane ruining her attempt to start a new life in the blackmail induced new apartment that she was hoping to keep free of memories of their marriage. Roger also manages to piss off an increasingly perturbed Peggy Olsen by using Ginsberg instead of returning to her for his back alley advertising needs.

We also see a little bit from Megan and one of her acting class friends reading scenes for an audition for the show…Dark Shadows. Which they railed. Kind of funny. This whole scene was simply to show Megan finally realizing how people see her, fair or not.

The other major storyline of the week ,or “Dark Shadow” if you will, involves the nest of jealously between Don, Megan, chubby Betty and Sally. Betty has joined the relatively new Weight Watchers in an attempt to regain her control over her appetite, and while the lessons from her meetings seem to help her attitude at home, she can’t help but be blinded by jealously when she sees Don’s immaculate New York apartment inhabited by his svelte and sexy new wife.

Her weapon of choice, as always, is the young Sally Draper who is more than willing to become catty and petulant when she feels shes been lied to by Megan. Betty’s scheming ultimately backfires however when Megan recognizes her meddling and keeps Don from flying off the hook which allows a more aware Sally to turn the whole ordeal into a hurtful jab towards her mother. If Mad Men lasts long enough for Sally Draper to televise her teen years then watch out! She’s only 10 or 11 on the show, but already has all the attitude and maliciousness of a teenager with the “bad boy” boyfriend to boot.

Mad Men seems to really be hitting it’s stride season and it seems there will be no end to frustrations and controversy in the SCDP office. Jared Harris will finally make his return next week as he has been noticeably absent from the series since his dust-up with Campbell. We should also expect a lot more of Pete and Beth in more that the fantastical version that aired this week as it seems that Pete’s obsession is coming to a head. With only four episodes left in the season you can feel the tension ramping up in the Mad Men world and we should be in for a great last few weeks.


Quote of the Week – Betty Draper:

“I’m thankful I have everything I want, and that no one else has anything better.”

AMC’s Med Men – Episode 507 “At the Codfish Ball”

Something happened last night. As I was watching Mad Men a wave of familiarity washed over me. The whole episode felt like it was compiled from deleted scenes out of The Godfather – the tone, the ascetic, the way it was shot – all seemed reminiscent of the Coppola classic to me. An underlying darkness and the anticipation of something terrible about to happen all resulted in showing just how unhappy everyone really is. Anyhow, enough about the feel of the episode, and on to the substance. Remember that letter Don wrote after Lucky Strike left? The one that Roger said would kill business? Well Don is receiving an award for writing it, and we’re all invited to the Codfish Ball…

This great honor has prompted Megan’s parents to visit from Montreal, and we quickly discover that Megan’s father, the scholar, is a communist. So he obviously has no affection towards Don’s profession and is concerned that his daughter will be ruined by the lavish lifestyle that they are living. This opinion is only amplified by his own failures and feelings of inadequacies. Something he takes out on those around him, namely the wife he believes doesn’t respect him – cause she doesn’t. She displays this in her competitiveness with her daughter, and her flirting with Don. Megan’s mother seems irresponsible and argumentative, and it’s clear that Megan is more fond of the father who hates her husband then of the mother who likes him.


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Review AMC’s Med Men: Episode 506 “Far Away Places”

Mad Men producers have never been afraid of messing with your head (see episode 504), but this weeks theme has that very notion at it’s heart. The “Far Away Places” we travel to in this episode turn out to be Platssburgh, NY, Mars and wherever it is that LSD takes you.

This week’s episode, in continuation with it’s theme, also uses the now ever-popular technique of disjointing the timeline through overlapping stories shown out of sequence ala Pulp Fiction. This trick seems wholly unnecessary apart from keeping Don and Megan’s story line uninterrupted, and seems a ploy to make certain plot points, ie. Don’s frantic phone call, more interesting. Thus the week starts with Don and Megan skipping yet another Heinz pitch session much to the chagrin of one Peggy Olson. Unfortunately Heinz is yet again indecisive about what they want for their ad campaign and while Peggy gives them the verbal abuse they much deserve, her misplaced frustration with Don gets her booted from the campaign.

As an aside: the only time we see Pete this week is when he levees the bad news to Peggy and we don’t see Lane at all so the two of them must’ve needed some recovery time from last week dust up. No lingering black eyes for the make up department to deal with at Mad Men HQ! Peggy is beginning to feel the crush of being the creative lead and having to make up for Don’s absentee office work. In this episode it leads her to fight with her boyfriend, work late hours, drink too much and have random sexual encounters with strangers. Hmm sounds a bit like the old Don eh? I guess the new straight-lace Don, or the love-leave don as Bert Cooper phrases it, has had residual effects on his underlings. Someone’s got to be boozing and sexing to get the advertising done it seems, and there’s only so much Roger can handle. Continue reading Review AMC’s Med Men: Episode 506 “Far Away Places”

Review AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 505 “You’re My King”

This weeks episode of Mad Men should probably really have been called “Pete gets his ass whooped”, but that would have ruined the surprise of what is especially rare in Mad Men; an “action” scene. The central theme for the week seemed to be the balance between the usefulness and inadequacies of men and who better to focus on than one petulant Peter Campbell. Pete’s biggest problem is not that he is a whiny, conniving little twerp in a slight frame, but that he compares himself to Don Draper.

First under the microscope this week is the P in SCDP, Lane Pryce. As one of the figure heads of SCDP Lane feels his position in the company is somewhat useless, so it is fortuitous when he meets the American Jaguar representative whom he hopes he can bring under the SCDP advertising umbrella. It should be noted that the English pronunciation Jag-Ewe-Arr is used prolifically and it was all I could do to keep from adding a “Yeahh Baby Yeaaah” every time it was mentioned. Unfortunately for Lane his client is more of an Austin Powers type Englishman than a proper gentleman, and all sales technique handed down from Roger is wasted.

Lane must turn to the “A-team” in Don, Roger and Pete to reel his client in and “show him a good time”. It quickly becomes abundantly clear that Lane’s client is looking for more than a sales pitch which makes it Roger’s time to shine. Other than setting the groundwork for one of the more hilarious reason for losing a client, his wife discovers “chewing gum in the pubis”, we get to see Peter compare himself side-by-side with the new Don Draper and here is where his youth shows. Pete feels like Don is being hypocritical and unfair by judging his indiscretions at the brothel, while giving Roger a free pass.

What Pete is missing is that Don was holding him to a higher standard than Roger, and is almost fatherly in his hope for Peter to make better life choices than his own. If anything this reveals that at some level Don actual cares for Pete. And maybe no scene in the history of the show said more about Campbell then when he is instructing his “lady friend” as to what character she should play in the bedroom – hence the episode’s title: “You’re My King”.

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Review AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 504 “Mystery Date”

For those who wondered what historical time frame Mad Men was currently operating in, we got a pretty definitive answer Sunday night as much of the episode revolved around a murder case that occurred in July of 1966. We first get news of the infamous murder case when Peggy’s Time magazine photographer friend crashes the copy-writer meeting to show off the grizzly photos she’s collected from the crime scene. We get a taste of all of the societal elements being touched upon in this week’s episode in a nice little package. The re-introduction of Peggy’s professional lesbian feminist friend let’s us know that we will be seeing elements of the women’s rights movement. The discussion of how the murder case is trumping stories about the race riots in Chicago is a tip off that we will be dealing with more of the civil rights movement, and finally we get the juxtaposition of attitudes about the murder case itself as Ginsberg is horrified by everyone’s giddy fascination with the explicit photos. Before we follow through on these topics and visit the first true “Holy Shit” moment of the season lets get move on to bigger and better things, ie. Joanie.

Greg has returned from Vietnam to the anticipatory arms of Joan and his newborn son but we soon learn that he’s returning for another year of duty, as a volunteer no less. The somewhat hapless doctor has found a place where he is important and respected and is eager to return. Joan doesn’t take guff from anyone and lets face it, Kevin isn’t really Greg’s son anyhow, so she promptly shows him the door. Goodbye Greg, good luck in the late 60’s Vietnam, I bet his return in a year won’t be so damn proud and patriotic. As we see in the teaser at the end of the show Joan will soon be returning to the office where the awkwardness between her and Roger can resume.

Meanwhile at SCDP Roger is again caught with his pants down as he is completely unprepared for the upcoming Mohawk Airlines meeting, and he is forced and coerced into bribing Peggy to get his campaign in order. I missed the mark when it came to a potential Peggy/Roger romance last week, but their exchange was peppered with a bunch of great one liners.

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Review AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 503 “Tea Leaves”

For all the Mad Men fans who thought they were getting an extra hour of their favorite show this season I’m sorry to report that last weeks season 5 premiere counted as two episodes and so accordingly this weeks review will be of episode three.

We quickly learn that, as promised at the end of last weeks episode, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has indeed followed through on their pledge of diversifying the office by hiring a black secretary who is ironically named Dawn and is assigned to handle desk duties for Don, rounds of mistaken identity jokes ensue. The larger portion of the office action this week surrounds another new hire. Mohawk Airlines has been confirmed as returning to SCDP and Peggy must search for a new copywriter to handle the extra responsibilities.

Enter the plucky Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) who is clearly a talented young ad man but rubs Peggy the wrong way with his brash antics. Peggy’s ultimate fear is of disappointing Don but after reigning himself in for the second interview Ginsberg passes with flying colors and gets the job.

Ginsberg looks to be an interesting new addition to the show as he seems like he will add some energy to the SCDP office and it his unbridled enthusiasm may well be something Peggy appreciates in contrast to the always cynical Stan Rizzo. The relationship between Peggy and Michael will be an interesting one to see develop as one of the overall themes of this week is to be wary of ones inter-office competitors. This is most blatantly demonstrated as the episode ends and Pete belittles Roger in front of the entire office in regards to the handling of the Mohawk account. Roger has been given control of the account but Pete makes it well know that he landed the account and that he will be monitoring Roger. The warning, as Roger says to Peggy “That’s the last guy I hired”, is that you’ve got to watch your back in the politics of office aspirations.

The biggest shocker of this weeks episode was that Betty Francis (formerly Draper) has gotten a bit fat. Betty’s notable absence from the first two episodes was apparently to illicit the maximum effect of having an episode three “shocker”, ie. January Jones in fat suit makeup. After being convinced by her mother-in-law to see a doctor about diet pills we get a bit of extra drama in that Betty might actually have Lymphatic cancer. The writers decided not too make this a strung out drama, cancer-wise anyhow, as we learn by the end of the episode that Betty’s lump is benign and her weight issues are probably more linked to the depression of being a 60’s housewife and her new found love of sweets and the plague that still haunts us today; Bugles. Betty’s cancer scare does play out some subtle battle lines in the lives of the divorced as we find Betty seeking seeking solace and reassurance from Don, Don’s concern for Betty and the kids and Henry Francis’ smug satisfaction when he learns that Betty hadn’t informed Don when she found out she was OK.

Continue reading Review AMC’s Mad Men: Episode 503 “Tea Leaves”