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Monday, July 26, 2010

Mad about the Men: More Slap Than Tickle

It's so nice to have Don Draper back again. I've missed him - along with the rest of the Mad Men gang. Almost a year has passed in the AMC series, which began its fourth season last night. It's now Thanksgiving 1964 - and the ad agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has moved into its snazzy new office space. There have been some other interesting changes since we last saw everyone, which I will comment on in my review of "Public Relations", the 40th episode of the drama:

Favorite character: Since it was a good Don episode, I have to go with the brooding, evasive hunk who lost an important client because he didn't mention them - or much of anything - in his "Who is Don Draper?" interview with the magazine, Advertising Age. However, after allowing his hot temper to flare up over another client, our Mr. Draper got his mojo back as he then chatted up the Wall Street Journal with a big smile and a drink.

Gayest character: Since Sal is no longer around (I miss him!), I'm naming the Jantzen swimwear client Bob as this week's closeted homosexual. I definitely got a gay vibe from this guy, whose prudish company frowned upon bikinis.

Kinkiest character: It's a tie between Don and his ex-wife's new husband, Henry Francis. Don likes to get slapped around in bed by a prostitute to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, while Betty's hubby prefers to make out in the car like a couple of horny teenagers instead of their bed.

Blandest new character: Jane's friend Bethany has to be the most boring gal that Don's ever been involved with. Hopefully this relationship doesn't continue beyond their first date. I found Sally's teacher Suzanne from last season - and even Don's Thanksgiving hooker - far more interesting.

Best new character: Peggy's adorable new assistant, Joey Baird (played by Matt Long, who previously appeared on TV's Jack & Bobby and The Deep End).

Cutest couple: Peggy and Joey, who quoted to each other from John and Marsha, a 1951 recording/soap opera parody by advertising creative director Stan Freberg (listen to it below).

Character I'd like to see more of: Henry's handsome son-in-law Jamie.

Future fight I'm most looking forward to: Betty and her disapproving new mother-in-law, Pauline, are destined to clash since the latter doesn't like her son "living in [Don's] dirt". She also thinks Betty is a bad mother - and she's right.

Future fight runner-up: Betty and her daughter, Sally, are on a long and rocky journey that will only get worse once the girl becomes a teenager.

Missing in action: I was disappointed that we only got a glimpse of my favorite office manager, the fabulous Joan. And what about Ken Cosgrove? Will we ever see him again?

Best fashion statement: Peggy's cute red hat.

Ugliest apartment: Don's very brown and masculine digs. It didn't do much for me.

Best lamp: My partner remarked that the show is all about lamps since they appear everywhere. He especially liked the little red lamp in Don's bedroom.

Most obscure pop culture reference: Besides the John and Marsha recording, I doubt that many folks remember actress Virginia Mayo, who appeared in 1946's The Best Years of Our Lives and 1949's White Heat.

Grooviest song: "Tobacco Road", a 1964 hit by The Nashville Teens that played over the closing credits.

Least favorite scene: The over-the-top diner fight between the two actresses whom Peggy and Pete hired for a publicity stunt. It just didn't fit with the rest of the episode.

Best scene runner-up: Don's confrontation with Henry and Betty over the house, which the newly married couple are still living in - and she is using the kids as her excuse for not looking for a new place.

Best scene: Peggy telling Don, "All we want to do is please you." I like how she's become much more confident over the years and freely speaks her mind to him.

Best line runner-up: "It just came out" - Peggy's boyfriend Mark trying to explain to her after he incorrectly informed Don that he was her fiancé.

Best line: "You know that one of them is leaving New York with VD" - Roger about the Jantzen swimwear clients.

That's my Mad Men review for this week. Until next time, keep the cocktails flowing.

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