[Ed. note: Over the next few weeks, Videogum will be introducing our stable of new freelance writers covering some of your favorite shows. Today, I am extremely excited to announce that this season of Mad Men will be covered by my good friend and Internet Colleague, Alex Blagg. You may know Alex's work from the Best Week Ever blog, as well as his own site,, or his Tumblr. He's one of the smartest and funniest people I know, so welcome him, monsters.]

Unless your web browser has been broken for the past several weeks, you probably know that the new season of “Mad Men” premiered last night on AMC. Nothing gets the Internet all frothed up quite like an oddly-paced period drama in which people smoke a lot and talk about advertising, and nothing gets AMC all frothed up quite like not offering HD even though it is an entire network of movies and widescreen TV shows. [Ed. note: AMC offers HD in New York City. Sorry about how your cable provider stinks, Los Angeles.]

But anyway, after months of waiting and buzz-building, with anticipation for the new season having grown to a full-on fever pitch, we are once again welcomed back to the world of our old friend Don Draper, who is standing in his kitchen, warming up some milk. LET THE LIVEBLOGS BEGIN!

Don has this weird vision of his own birth and adoption back in olden times when he was little Dick Whitman. It was like a private performance of “Our Town” in his own kitchen, but with fetal death, prostitutes and talk of frying penises in pork fat. You know, “Mad Men” stuff!

We then realize Don was heating up that now-syrupy milk for Betty, who has gotten VERY pregnant since we last saw her. Maybe she’s having trouble sleeping because she’s worried about their daughter, who has apparently taken to Don’s tools like “a little lesbian.” Do lesbians really love tools that much? Do they get together for “Home Improvement” viewing parties and play with power-sanders? I have no idea, I don’t watch The L Word.

But now we’re back at Sterling-Cooper. So far the biggest impact of the London buyout seems to be some saucy new man in a suit sexually harassing the secretaries in a much more charming British accent. Also Burt Peterson – who we haven’t seen much of on the show but was apparently really important to the business – is unceremoniously fired. He then tells everyone to go to hell and slides things off a secretary’s desk, but it’s okay because we learn he might be going “in house” at Nabisco, where he will presumably invent the Keebler elves before disappearing to the desert, joining up with the Manson family, and spending the remainder of his days hunting jackalope while locked in a perpetual bad acid trip.

But who will take over for Burt in his instrumental role as head of accounts? First we think it’s going to be Pete, whose promotion isn’t so much about money or elevated status as it is another reason for him to retreat to the privacy of his office for a creepy Little Lord Fauntelroy victory dance. But wait! Ken Cosgrove gets what appears to be the very same promotion (though oddly appears much more interested in what the new job will pay than he does in doing some kind of demonic soft-shoe across the office). Let’s get ready to rumble … for accounts!

Which gets us to Don and Salvatore’s Epic Journey to Hang on to the Crucial London Fog Raincoat Business. During the flight the two men are both duly disgusted by a ham-handed liquor ad depicting a what could only be an alcoholic man holding a giant phallic bottle of booze and ignoring his wife. Don would never stoop so low as to sell a product to men by appealing to their baser desire to have a giant cock. Ditto for Salvatore, who is clearly repulsed just by the very notion of cocks. Luckily, all this cock-related stress is finally alleviated when a hot young flight attendant basically asks Don if would like to have sex with her later and also maybe some peanuts.

So it’s later, and of course Don has to deal with moral dilemma of whether or not to give the business to this stewardess back at their hotel. On one hand, he’s Don Draper, and giving people the business is just what he does. On the other hand, it’s his fucking birthday and he totally deserves to give this waitress of the skies the Don Draper business. Finally she takes her top off, talks about being a model, and waggles her perfect boobies around in Don’s face a bit. There, that’s more like it…

Meanwhile, back in his own hotel room, Salvatore flops down on the bed alone, dreaming of a future in which men will be able to watch men have sex with other men discreetly from the privacy of their hotel room, perhaps for a nominal fee. And if the unchecked sexual tension wasn’t enough, the air conditioner is broken and it’s so hot and steamy and sweaty in his room! He puts a call in to have the air conditioner fixed and moments later some hot young dude in a bellboy costume wiggles a knob, fixes the AC, and has his tongue down Salvatore’s throat despite neither knowing nor ever speaking to him. Things start getting hot and heavier, and just when you’re thinking this is going to be the gay sexiest season of “Man Men” yet, the fire alarm goes off and everyone has to evacuate the building. It is during this sequence that Don, while fleeing down the fire escape to safety with the stewardess he was just nailing, discovers Salvatore’s dirty little secret and looks …. Angry? Frightened? Horny? It’s really hard to tell.

The next day, Salvatore is running late to the big meeting with the London Fog client. But when he starts talking about how much he loves Balzac and Don Draper does a nifty little bit of his Ad Guy Jedi Mind Trick thing, the London Fog guys seem excited about doing business with Sterling-Cooper again and the day is saved.

Later on the flight home, when Don and Salvatore are alone again, Don leans in and says, very intensely, “I’m gonna ask you something and I want you to be completely honest with me….” And right as you’re SURE he’s finally going to come out and just ask, one and for all, “Do these wingtips make me look fabulous?”, it turns out he just has some ad idea for London Fog. That Don Draper, all business all the time.

What else? The Rodge comes by Don’s office for some Stoli and Stogies, Pete shows up and whines some more, and Don once again retreats to the quiet serenity of his family, where old timey western music is now playing.

But uh-oh, trouble rears its ugly head again when Don’s small daughter finds the flight wings from that stewardess he nailed back at the hotel. Later, he will of course turn these flight wings into a brilliant family-marketing tactic for his airline clients, but first he must give his family the business.

Comments (56)
  1. Was anyone else bothered by the fact that apparently Dick Whitman’s name was Dick Whitman as some kind of gross inside joke? And also, I kind of thought that Don Draper didn’t ask Sal about his homosexuality less because he is all business and more because if there is anyone who knows about keeping your true identity secret, it is Don Draper. Oh boy, it is going to be very hard for me to let these freelancers just do their job. I am sorry, Alex Blagg!

    • I agree, Gabe. While I don’t expect Don to be all pro-gay, I think there’s some weird respect that’ll keep Draper from bringing it up. But I expect it to come up again somehow.

      • I feel like Sal’s going to take Don’s refusal to acknowledge what he saw as some sort of acceptance which will then backfire (dramatically).

      • Respect or just the main fact that if anyone knows about “limiting your exposure” it’s the guy who’s been hiding his true identity for years?

        I’m glad the show’s back but did anyone felt it was a little off? I seriously don’t think Cooper would be into hentai.

    • Hey, do I come down to where you work and slap the Mad Men recap out of your mouth?

      • Passerby  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 -24

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • Ugh, not in front of the guest commenter! You’re embarrassing us!

        • op.  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 +2

          Maybe you shouldn’t have jumped straight into SEASON THREE, then. Because things aren’t for no reason, we’ve had, like, fourty hours worth or backstory and build up.

        • W  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 +2

          Kind of hard to understand this show unless you have watched from the beginning. It is probably a little sophisticated for you. I balance the intelligence in this show with Entourage and True Blood, which is just crazy pointless fun. Although, I know Gabe doesn’t feel that way about Entourage…we have had our battles over that show.

    • You know Sal’s going to be squirming while he waits for his secret to come out.

  2. Hey you guys, Mad Men is the best and we all knew this day would come for Salvatore, but when he was making out with that dude, did anyone else think “I love you too, Johnny Cakes.”?

    Vito Spatfore you guys!

  3. I know you’re new here, and that’s great and all – who doesn’t like new things? (me a little bit, but that’s not the point [that may be the point, but we'll get there {will we? I have no idea}]) – but where are all the inside jokes? I’m pretty sure non-gummers could understand this post entirely?

    • Accidental Question Mark  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 +9

      HAHA! Got you! You can’t escape my clutches!

    • this recap is way too mainstream.

      long live the ))<>((

    • Really? I kinda liked the fact it was easy to understand and to the point. It’s nice to have our inside jokes and stuff, but I still liked that the recap was witty and humorous without being too cryptic. Also, Alex Blagg isn’t Gabe, so you can’t expect his writing to be too “Videogum-ish”.

  4. Welcome Alex!
    The Joan / Moneypenny thing confused me last night. What is he supposed to be doing?

    • As far as I understood it, he’s Mr. Pryce’s assistant. He didn’t want to be on the same level as the “typists” b/c of their small woman brains, so he complained to Joan. Joan then gave him his own office, knowing that Mr. Pryce would reprimand Moneypenny for how it looked considering all of the layoffs. Joan – 1 Moneypenny – 0. Also Joan always wins b/c look at Joan. Hope that helped!

      • Okaaay. I got that Joan totally pwned (1960s reference!) him, but I was a little vague on why. Joan wins at everything. I’m sad she’s still with Dr. Rapey, though.

  5. yay, i miss the blagg. sorry, but wonderwall doesn’t cut it.

  6. yay, i miss the blagg. sorry, but wonderwall doesn’t cut it.

  7. Welcome! Nice use of Jackalope and “creepy Little Lord Fauntelroy victory dance.” I’m putting that in my LOLk portfolio.

  8. I’m still not sure if Salvatore was just quoting Balzac, or if the Mad Men writers were trying to be “funny” by saying Salvatore likes, you know, “Balzac”. Actually, maybe they weren’t. Nevermind!

  9. I found myself involuntarily shouting “About time Sal, you go boy!” at the screen. It was the type of yell I usually reserve for sports.

  10. I can’t log in and I have very important things to say. But without my avatar, they’re meaningless. I might as well be Passerby. Not really. But I thought the premiere was kind a letdown, and in some instances, kinda crude for no apparent reason. I know they are setting the table for what I hope will be a excellent season, but Betty Draper does not seem like she would make a lesbian joke.
    I did enjoy Burt Peterson (whoever that is?) saying “Fellow comrades in mediocrity, I want you to listen very carefully: You can all go straight to hell!”

  11. Now that Alex is here, no more signing in allowed and no more voting? I’m saddened by your arrival. It’s not you; it’s me. And the Cookie Monsters.

  12. Aghhhh
    I had a whole response up and now Videogum won’t let me sign in!
    LET ME IN!

  13. Is anyone else super-excited that there are still going to be mad men recaps? Because I am! Mad Men FTW!

  14. Is anyone else super-excited that there are still going to be mad men recaps? Because I am! Mad Men FTW!

  15. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. You’re actually signed in when you’re not signed, or at least when there’s no indication that you’re signed in.

    Anyway, nice recap, Alex. I’m sure all of us monsters are looking forward to more.

  16. No offense to Alex but…..can’t you just pay Lindsay to be a freelance writer?

  17. Alex did a great job! Various pats on the back and hind quarters. GOOD GAME! But why couldn’t we have Lindsay do freelance mad men recaps? That would have been the opposite of the worst. THE BEST. Seriously, I mean no disrespect Alex. I laughed, I cried. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But do YOU have a huge mad men crush on Don Draper/Jon Hamm?

  18. First, let me say that I’ve been REALLY e-guilty ever since I defected to Videogum from the BestWeekEver blog (Alex, you were long gone by then, BUT STILL)… now that I’ve gotten that off my chest:
    HOW HAS NO ONE MENTIONED THE GYNOCRACY LINE? And that Joan obviously set up John Hooker/Moneypenny. And that there was an ant farm in this episode… AND ANT FARMS ARE GYNOCRACIES!
    Also, Peggy’s zinger about the guy reciting the phonebook in his British accent. “Well, when he gets to ‘S,’ I need Howard Sullivan at Lever Brothers.” Awwww SNAP! amirite?
    And that Burt Peterson definitely won The World’s Greatest Freakout contest (was that even real?)
    How was Don having flashbacks to before his conception? Even if it was just a daydream, ewww. Because I don’t want to see my parents doing it – not even in a spectral vision.

  19. Ooops sorry She-Ra, P. O. P. you beat me to the punch. Although I wasn’t punching anyone I promise…

  20. I have to say the best part of this episode for me was watching it with my 52-year-old mom, who was trying so hard not to look grossed out by boys kissing. But inside she was like “EWWWW BOYS KISSING!!!”

  21. ethel  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 0

    AMC is in HD here and I live in Louisville, KY.

  22. yomomma  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 +16

    Generally I’m bored by this show, but I understand that I’m in the minority here. However I caught last night’s episode and I have to point out that you missed something.

    When Draper was on the flight about to question his cohort about his man-love and he ended up asking about the London Fog account. The final phrase’ (which was also the tag line of the ad he was proposing), “limit your exposure,” was his way of telling his buddy to be more discreet about his attraction to dudes.

    I’m pretty sure his coworker got the message even if the OP didn’t.

  23. Murphy Brown  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 +2

    I think I’m going to like Alex’s reviews more than Gabe’s (no offense) because sometimes I do miss the show and just want a good recap with some a witty touch, not 95% tangential divergence on society’s ills, and 5% of the actual plot.

  24. I think the bellboy was able to make that leap based on the fact that he was called up to the room to fix the air conditioner even though there was nothing wrong with it, Sal was just too drunk to know how to operate it. Basically he thought it was an excuse to call him up to his room and a signal that he wanted to get into his tiny uniform pants.

    I know this scenario might seem far fetched to some but I for one have used this device many a time when attempting to engage to anonymous gay sex, with varied levels of success.

  25. I, too, thought that name backstory was sorta “bleeccch”…I also cringed when Betty said “lesbian.” Did people actually talk like that then? Also, WB Da Cake Eatur. Now go away again ;0]

  26. Alex Blagg! So glad to see you here!! Also, when Don leaned over to Salvatore and asked him if he would answer him truthfully, he was making a double entandre about being discreet. Also, my downstairs neighbor is currently playing her guitar and singing. ugh.

  27. Oh I am happy to see mad men being covered! Plus all this talk about Draper boning that Stewardess is off, I feel. I think he was still considering it…and then the fire alarm went off so he never got to give her his “business”. right?

  28. Don has no problem with Salvatore because otherwise he would have left with the some of the random thousands of dollars he has conveniently hidden all over the world and start over as a hot rod mechanic.
    Seriously though he told Salvatore to hide it by having the “I know you’re gay but don’t worry I won’t tell anyone conversation” with a metaphor for an ad. “Limit your exposure.” Salvatore may be a closet homosexual but Don is a closet liberal. Who didn’t beat their kids in the sixties? He doesn’t fit in the republican dream world of picket fences, no sexual harassment, no black people in power(Michael Steele doesn’t count), wives were subordinate(only ugly women were feminists), cigarettes and liquor were healthy to consume whenever, and so on with the world that never existed but in Sean Hannity’s wet dreams.

  29. BWE brought me to Vgum, back on day one…I was very much looking forward to the “recaps” for Mad Men…but that warn’t it.

    I read it for the snark and hilarity, self-referential tangents, not an actual play-by-play…it just wasn’t all that funny. Read very generically. “Mainstream,” I suppose, as one other poster put it. But the writer writes for a very mainstream (Vh1) audience…anyways.

    I hate to leave a comment that won’t win awards and doesn’t involve lame attempts to seduce Max, but…boo. Hope the Mad Men recaps improve.

  30. Dear people who missed the humor in Alex’s comically oversimplified description of Sal and Don’s London Fog conversation and it’s obvious subtle double entendre: you fail.

  31. Anyone got any hog fat?

  32. Your spelling has improved.

  33. If this is like a new era of Da Cake Eatur, I’m not that into it. Please go back to your other, much funnier destruction of the English Langauge, please?

    Also, great write up, Alex.

  34. Scrooge McDuck  |   Posted on Aug 17th, 2009 +2

    Well, if you’re still commenting (even though this doesn’t feel like a Da Cake Eatur post at all) and An American Patriot is in the hospital, I guess this finally–and once and for all–dispell’s the notion that you two are on and the same.

  35. Yeah, plus the fact that An American Patriot is funnier. Sorry, Da Cake Eatur, but you have fallen out of favor with me!

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