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Mad Men S04 E06 "Waldorf Stories"

REVIEWS - TV

Is there a little PC penitence creeping into the all-smoking, all-drinking world of 1960s ad-men...?

Mad Men (AMC)

It’s the 1965 CLIOs, and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is up for an award! Let’s see who wants to take credit for the success of Don's Glo-Coat commercial. We get a nice parallel story - a new guy wants to join SCDP; set against flashbacks to when Don made the transition from fur coat salesman to Ad Man. Peggy gets naked, and someone goes all Lost Weekend (now where did I put that weekend? It's around here somewhere...)

Peggy and Don are in his office having an awkward interview with Danny (Strong, Jonathan from Buffy! ) Danny only got the interview because he’s Roger Sterling’s cousin by marriage. His book includes eighteen or so variations of “The Cure for the Common ____.” It’s total crap. Jonathan is excused. Peggy speaks up to Don about Glo-Coat; it’s up for a CLIO, and was based on her idea. Don rejects her claim of credit and tells her to get back to work on Vick’s cough drops with Stan Rizzo.

Roger is hard at work on his memoirs. Really? Awesome. I want to read them in book form, as a spin off, like the Sopranos cookbook.

And this reminds him of the time he met Don…

Flashback! Roger goes to the fur store where Don’s working as a salesman (They did a great job of making these guys look younger - especially Don, who loses ten years with a slightly different hair style and an innocent expression - Jon Hamm is amazing). Don helps him choose a mink cape for a mistress, and Roger notices the ad work hanging up in the store. Don admits that he did the ad, and Roger tells Don he needs more of them. It's Betty in the ad, tying together the story of when Don met Betty as well - she mentioned in therapy that Don was a copywriter for a fur company when she met him, and he sent her the coat she modeled in the shot. Knowing this, the tag line "Why wait for a man to buy you a fur coat?" becomes hilarious - that exact model has the man who wrote the line buy her that exact fur coat! Awesome. When Roger presents (pun!) the cape to Joan, he sees that Don included his book in the box.

Back to the present. Life cereal's airplane is snowed in, so the SCDP crew can begin partying prior to the awards. Peggy finds out that Joan scored an invite to the CLIO’s but she didn’t, and she’s pissed. Restrained but angry, as she says she's going to work, with just a whiff of martyr. She finds Stan Rizzo showing an unaired commercial he filmed starring the KKK to some easily impressed secretaries.

At CLIOs, Don and Roger bump into Ted Chaough with a general, who turns out to be an actor hired to play a general for the party. Campbell and Joan run into Kenny Cosgrove, Campbell’s rival from the old Sterling Cooper, and his friend reveals that they are getting the old gang back together. Campbell is all, wha? He’s totally thrown. Duck the drunk, also an old SC employee, interrupts the CLIO intros and even the emcee says that he is a warning against drinking too much. We got that. But thanks.

Hey, Peggy still thinks Glo-Coat was her idea! Stan keeps talking about nudity, and how repressed Peggy is. (Example: I read your pamphlets and I'm not interested in the temperance movement. Hee!)

And Glo Coat wins! As Don is exiting the stage, SCDP’s receptionist comes in to tell them that Life Cereal decided to drive in from Philly. Campbell offers to put them off but is shushed by drunken Don and Roger. Forward to the breach!

Wow, Don is super loaded. Graceless, burping drunk. And since we see him as a graceful, dapper drunk all the time, it’s a little jarring. Life Cereal doesn’t like the slogan (“Grab Life By the Bowlful”) but instead of letting Campbell delay the pitch Don starts throwing slogans out off the top of his head. After several options he throws out, “The Cure for the Common Breakfast” and they love it. Peggy is shocked – that was Danny’s idea! But everyone’s shaking hands and trying not to fall over, so it seems the deal is done.

When Peggy tries to talk to Don after the meeting, he starts shouting about the Vick’s deadline and tells Miss Blankenship to lock Peggy and Rizzo in a room until they are done. As he walk-stumbles off, Peggy says he’s not serious, but does she really want Ida to go and ask? Oh man, those two are going to a hotel. Now we can find out if it's repressed lust that's making them so snippety with each other, or if they really dislike each other.

Campbell confronts Lane about Ken Cosgrove joining SCDP. Lane confirms that the rumors are true, Campbell vetoes and Lane cajoles, apologizes, and flatters him into calming down. Lane says that Kenny is bringing in accounts and Campbell can’t pull the cart by himself, and Roger is 'a child'.

Campbell refers to Lane and Joan as “you and Madame Defarge” and I laugh out loud, mostly at the thought of Joan knitting.

At the CLIOs after party, Don’s not getting more sober, for sure. He tries to take Psexy out to ‘really celebrate’ and she lets him down gently. More gently than she needs to, really, since he is really on an ugly drunk this episode, and he probably isn't going to remember anyway!

At the hotel room, Peggy is working at the table and Rizzo is laying on the bed, reading Playboy. He tells Peggy that she’s Don’s favorite in a non-sexual way. “I bet he takes you hunting; lets you carry carcasses in your mouth.” Then he tells Peggy that Playboy ‘opens my mind with freedom’ and that Peggy is ashamed of her body and should be. So Peggy calls his bluff, and she calls him chickenshit! And I love her a little bit for it. She stands up and strips, he strips, and they sit down at the table to get to work. Rizzo is having a hard time concentrating.

Roger and Joan are at the CLIO afterparty. She takes his drink away because he's 'gone from inebriated to morose.' Roger wants credit for the CLIO too - he tells her there are no awards for what he does, which is to find guys like Don. Speaking of which...

Flashback! Don corners Roger at the SC elevators and asks what Roger thought of the book. He threw it away and won’t return Don’s calls. Don invites him for a drink. Roger is shocked – it’s 10 AM! So, cut to the bar (hah!) They are drinking and Roger is super loaded. Don offers to get Roger a taxi and he yells, “Garcon! Je m’appelle Roger. Je suis un taxi, s'il vous plait.” And I want to thank my high-school French teacher because I actually got that joke.

Hotel room – Peggy gives Rizzo a hard time (pun!) about his erection. She seems to be fine working naked, Stan, for all his big talk, is distracted and completely freaked out. He caves and gets dressed.

Don is in bed with the dark-haired woman from the CLIO after party. She goes down, he smiles and closes his eyes, and opens them to bright sunlight and a ringing phone. It’s Betty – where is Don? He was supposed to pick up the kids. Don replies, "Yeah, on Sunday!" Betty says, "It IS Sunday." Don claims to be under the weather and rolls over to see a brand-new blonde girl in bed with him. One awkward conversation later, he hands Doris her waitress uniform with a side order of lame excuse and retires to the bathroom to run the water and avoid awkward goodbyes. And she calls him Dick, his real name! Yikes. Here’s the problem with total blackouts; how is he going to know which restaurants to avoid so he doesn’t bump into Doris again?

Don retires to the couch with a bottle of Canadian Club to pass right out again. Wakes to Peggy knocking on the door. (If Don didn’t have women to call him and pound on his door would he ever wake up? Is that a tree-falls-in-the-woods question of the week?)

Peggy finally talks to Don about the Cure for the Common Breakfast and tells him to make it right with Danny. When Don pressures her to do it herself she says no, because she's exhausted from working at the hotel with Rizzo all weekend. Don totally doesn't remember ordering them to do that either.

Back in the office, Don offers Danny/Jonathan money for his idea, but Danny wants a job. And Danny is playing his only card – he’s Roger’s wife’s cousin, and he intends to get a job out of it.

Campbell declines an invitation to lunch with Lane and Kenny so that he can exert his dubious influence over KC, ordering him into the conference room instead. “I need to know that you can take orders.” When Kenny seems submissive enough Campbell relaxes and becomes expansive. What an ass.

Don decides to hire Danny. He goes to tell Roger and hey, Roger has his CLIO, and wants the recognition that he didn’t receive at the awards show. Don complies and… flashback! Young Don meets a very hung over Roger at the elevators again, the day after they were in the bar together, and Roger says, “Can’t you just leave me alone?” Don replies, “You hired me! Yesterday! You told me welcome aboard?” But when they get in the elevator, Roger looking more hung over than ever, Don gives this awesome, sideways smile. That makes me think that Roger didn't actually hire Don, but between the drinking and the hangover, how can he argue? Again, with the sublime evil genius! Lovin’ it.

I love this show, I really do. But this episode was so heavy handed, I felt like I was in a public service announcement. Did you know that if you drink too much (like Duck?) you can make an ass out of yourself? Did you know that if you drink too much (like Roger?) you can make bad business decisions? Young people (like Danny) are willing to do whatever it takes to get on Madison Avenue, just like you did, Don! On the other hand I love the fact that we finally got to see Don's transition from fur sales to advertising. I actually like the Danny Strong parallel story, and Roger's continuing slide into obsolescence. I love it that all Roger wanted this episode was to get credit for 'discovering' Don, when in reality, he discovered nothing but the bottom of a martini glass. And I can't wait to see what happens next. Joan and Roger are sparking again, and was it really a good idea for Don to miss his day with Sally after her streak of issues last week?

 


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