So I don't think I can quite bring myself to recap these first five episodes as if I haven't already seen the whole season, but I will try to refrain from giving away really specific major spoilers, for those of you who are watching the show for the first time. I can't promise the world, though, so use your judgment if you're completely spoiler-averse. Onward!
Man, if you've never really watched the opening credits, you should go through them slowly. They're a little disturbing, but that's mild for this show, don't you think?
So we start by getting a card that reads: "Mad Men: A term coined in the late 1950's to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue." "Mad" because they were a bit angry, because they were a bit insane, or because they were, as the card so helpfully mentioned, located on Madison Avenue? Have you noticed this show is one of those that make you think? Anyway, more text appears on the card: "They coined it." Doesn't really help answer my question, but thanks for trying. Anyway, as Don Cherry's "Band Of Gold" plays, we pan around a crowded bar, full of people socializing and having a grand old time -- except for our (anti-?) hero Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm, and congrats on the Golden Globe nomination!), who's sitting by himself writing on a cocktail napkin, because the ideas flow freer from his brain than booze flows from a gin joint such as...well, this. Of course, being that he is in fact an ad man, you'd think he'd carry a pad for those times when he doesn't have a pretty young thing around to take notes for him. Then again, what were the chances? A waiter comes to clear Don's glass, which normally would be a good way to lose a hand, but Don says he's done and asks the guy for a light. Once the guy obliges, Don exhales and notes that the guy is an "Old Gold man," and offers that he himself smokes Lucky Strike cigarettes. The guy regards him warily, because people may have lost a lot of their inhibitions by this point in the evening, but not enough to forget that talking to the (colored, even!) help is Not Done. Don asks why the guy smokes Old Gold, but the guy keeps quiet as a church mouse while his presumed supervisor, an late-fifties-ish Italian guy, comes over and asks Don if "Sam" is bothering him. Don tells Crusty Italian that he's fine, they're just having another conversation, but he will in fact take another drink. Crusty Italian leaves, but not without looking askance at poor Sam again, and then Sam, figuring he's getting fired either way, admits that he smokes Old Gold because the Army gave its soldiers a carton a week for free when he was in the service. Wow, seriously? I mean, I know not a lot was known about lung cancer back in the thirties or forties or whenever Sam served, but surely the drill sergeants noticed that the guys smoking three packs a day got a little winded during basic training, no? Sam goes on that at this point, he wouldn't try another brand, so Don asks him to suppose that a tobacco weevil ate all the Old Gold tobacco there was. Sam: "That's a sad story." Especially for the weevil, since I'm guessing it's not the greatest quality tobacco out there if the government is handing it out to its soldiers faster than it gives moldy cheese to starving populations. Sam admits that, in that tragic eventuality, he could probably find another cigarette to ruin his health, as he really loves smoking, although his wife hates it, and Reader's Digest says it'll kill you. Don: "Yeah, I heard about that." Heh. Sam laughs that "ladies love their magazines," and after Don agrees with a smile, we see that he's written "I Love Smoking" on the napkin, although for the life of me I wouldn't have been able to decipher it if he hadn't quoted it back to Sam just now. Thanks, Doctor Draper. Don looks up right at the "Band Of Gold" chorus, as if to say, "Pretty pleased with yourself there, eh, Mr. Music Supervisor?" He looks at the tableau of people smoking and drinking, no doubt thinking, "Focus group!"