[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, BlaggBlogg.com, 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.