Monday, September 14, 2009

Mad Men - Season 3 - The Fog

Synopsis Betty has a baby and some drug hallucinations, At work, Don battles the "Penny-wise Pound Foolish" Brits while Pete tries to sell some TVs. Other subplots: Sally's teacher seems interested in Don. and the Duck returns and asks Penny and Pete to join him at Greys.

The Good
  • Peggy asking Don for Raise.
  • The Return of the Duck.
  • Pete to Peggy "Your decisions affect me"
  • The whole Pete Admiral TV subplot
  • Paul quoting Marx - arch-typical 60s liberal behavior
  • Betty having a baby, well done
The Bad
  • Sally's teacher coming on to Don - I know he's a babe magnet, but really.
  • The prison guard in the Delivery waiting room. Why do TV shows have such a hard time writing believable, likable, blue-collar types? The whole character seemed phony to me.
  • Betty's overly whiny behavior. This is her third baby, I think she knows the drill by now. And isn't she a WASP? As a part-WASP I can tell you we do "stiff upper lip" rather well.
  • The reaction of the Admiral TV execs to advertising their TV's to "Negroes" was incredibly overdone. One Admiral exec actually asks Pete if its "legal" to have Blacks/Whites do commercials together, Simply unbelievable. Blacks/whites had been on TV shows together by 1962. Nate King Cole had his own show in 1956, and Belefonte won an Emmy in 1960.

Other Matters
To make up for the lack of Black characters, Mad men usually shows its occasional black character in the best light. This time its the African American elevator operator who comes off as classy and informed vs. the clueless, naive Pete.

Overall Rating
The show has stopped treading water and the story is finally advancing - although Don is still in the background. But there's still time to get back to Don Draper, (Season 4 was picked up). ***1/2 stars.

Best Review

SF-gate Tim Goodman

"See, the entertaining part of "Mad Men" looking back at who we were and how we acted resides in all those scenes we never really saw anywhere else (and if they were attempted, they weren't quite as good). You know, like when the Draper kids are playing with that dry cleaning bag but get lectured about messing up the clothing. Or the lack of car seats... "Mad Men" does that extremely well. But talking about race and gender - few series can pull that off without looking like an ABC "Afterschool Special" or some other kind of obvious civics lesson. It's a pop culture millstone. We've seen it too often. There is no element of surprise to it. Even in the best series on television, I'm not sure the treatment can rise above passably good. Since "The Fog" was so much about race - Medgar Evers was as importantly prominent in this episode as references to John F. Kennedy were in last week's episode - and also about gender issues, there was a tone to it that had a somber lecture-heavy "importance" stamped on its figurative forehead.

That's not where "Mad Men" is going to do its best work. Obviously, the changing times MUST affect Sterling Cooper, Don Draper and others. But the danger that "Mad Men" faces, the one I've dreaded for two seasons and four episodes prior, is in the handling of the telling of what we already know. Too much of the "Hey, there sure is a lot of racism out there" or "What? Women get paid less than men? That's outrageous!" will lead down a too-familiar path. There is a delicate balance, to be sure - and we still have so much to discover, timeline-wise, and then to have the characters marinate in those discoveries. But "Mad Men" (despite what some people want it to prod at), never really came to life as a fictional assessment of turbulent times. It sprang to life as an examination of the weird emotional cocktail inside Don Draper's skull."


Trooper York said...

Dude the teacher definitely wanted some Don action. And he was throwing the vibes her way too. Any broad looking at that ice queen bitch would know that this guy wouldn't mind a little something something on the side.

Trooper York said...

Now if Joan was his wife, she never would have thought about it. She would know she was taking her life in her hands.

Trooper York said...

The reason why Hollywood hacks can never write convincing blue collar characters is that they are all yuppies hipster dofous assholes. Without exception.

Trooper York said...

The elevator guy is justing playing to the convention of sixties TV where the black guy is a fine upstanding hard working citizen just like you and I. Which of course almost all black Americans were and are today. Especaily the guys working blue collar jobs like elevator operator.

He should just be happy he is in Mad Men. Cause if he was on Star Trek he would have beamed down to the Palent with Kirk, Spock and McCoy and have been turned into a pillar of salt before the first commercial.

Trooper York said...

The last blue collar guy who was real on TV was Ralph Kramden. Just sayn'

rcocean said...

The other favorite 60s black guy role was that of the super-smart professional.

Sidney Potier as the doctor/lawyer/hotshot detective.

Greg Morris as the electronics wizard on MI, and of course on the Star Trek - Dr. Draysom the Black super-smart computer guy who invents M5.