Mad Men
Christmas Comes But Once a Year

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Couch Baron: A- | 1 USERS: C
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A Turkey Lurkey Christmas To You, Jerky
Belatedly: It's back! Thanks to Joe R for taking the premiere episode while I was on vacation. Let's get to it, but not before I say an official goodbye to Bryan Batt and Michael Gladis -- I'll miss Sal and Paul. Of course, if Freddy Rumsen can make a comeback, anything's possible.

As the episode title may have hinted, it's Christmastime, and Henry and his new family are checking out the trees at the local pine-mart, with some idyllic snow floating lazily down to earth. It may look nice, but the PA responsible probably had a heart attack trying to get the stuff to look just right. Anyway, the family seems to be having a nice time, what with the absence of disapproving relatives and the promise of rather motivated present-giving this season, but as they start to head off to look at a tree that won't leave marks on their ceiling, a horrible troll pops out from the greenery and accosts the lagging Sally -- oh, wait, that's just a newly-pubescent Glen Bishop. You can forgive my mistake -- they're about equally scary. When Glen offers his name and Sally tells him she knows, Glen points out that they walked right by him when they came in, and rather than launch into a discussion that might reveal severely inappropriate declarations of love and gifts of flaxen hair, Sally simply shrugs and awkwardly apologizes. If she can be dragged into WASP-y stoicism, no one is safe. Glen tells Sally that Helen (his mom, you'll remember) got remarried, and then adds that he saw her new dad. "My mom said that would happen." I'd laugh, but this line's going to pale in comparison to one a bit later. Glen goes on to guess that Henry and Betty will probably have a baby together at some point, and counsels Sally to ask for something big now; Bobby then reappears and asks if Glen is getting a tree. Glen testily replies that he's working there cutting twine, showing them his lanyard, and Bobby's impressed, but not enough to hang out any longer. Which is too bad, because I'd love to see the awkward scene that would ensue if Betty came to find out what's keeping her kids. Bobby leads Sally away, but not before Glen tells her he might call her. Isn't she a little young for you, Glen?

Don's typing away when Allison comes in, and I really liked her so I'm glad they brought her over to the new agency, but if she's there why is Don doing his own typing? Maybe he's like Grandpa Simpson in reverse, sending crackpot letters to companies he thinks are too prudish. After last week, it seems a lot less unlikely. Anyway, Allison tells him about his mail, which includes a letter addressed to both Santa Claus and Don Draper, and all I can say is it's too bad for Roger's sake that Lee Garner Jr. didn't see that and get an idea. Anyway, Allison reads the letter, and it's from Sally; she says that Bobby thinks it's going to the North Pole, and they should "keep up the ruse," which Allison adds is spelled "R-O-O-S." She smiles, and Don amusedly explains that Sally's watching too much TV, which makes me wonder what sixties programming she took that from. The only media offering I clearly remember using "ruse" was Clerks, but (a) that's obviously anachronistic, and (b) of all the vocabulary you'd remember from that film, I'd think that would be pretty far down the list for someone of Sally's age. After listing Bobby's requests, typical in both quantity and type for a boy of the period, Sally goes on that "Baby Gene wants a fireman -- I don't know what that means," before asking for a monogrammed gold necklace she and Don apparently saw at Macy's. "And most of all, I'd like you to be here on Christmas morning to give it to me, but I know you can't be." Well, that WASP stoicism is a work in process, but she's trying. Allison has to take a moment to recover from the way that letter's comedic value just fell apart at the end, but soon Don's pulling out his wallet and giving her the shopping list -- drum set, fire truck, and necklace with initials SBD -- "Sally Beth Draper." He then pauses, probably thinking about the fact that it's his first Christmas with competition in the Dad slot, and adds some Beatles 45s for Sally and a transistor radio for Bobby to the list. I'm guessing he thinks between his age and his namesake, Baby Gene's essentially a write-off in the affections department. Allison then asks about the Christmas party, saying the girls already got a "no" from Joan, but she's wondering if they're allowed to bring guests? Oh, Allison, playing Bad Mommy/Good Daddy with the newly divorced guy is beneath you, no? But it's irrelevant, as Don, not without irritation, says that Pryce has scaled the party back to "a glass of gin and a box of Velveeta" for financial reasons, but brightens as he adds that she will at least be getting a bonus. Allison thanks him with an answering smile, and isn't it nice how he's got such a healthy rapport with his secretary?

Freddy Rumsen comes in to see Roger; noting the antiseptic, minimalist d├ęcor, he opines that it's like an Italian hospital in there. Roger agrees, explaining that Jane got a decorator, and adding, referring to the overwhelming preponderance of white, that with his hair he feels invisible. Well, at least we've discovered a practical use for your fake tan. After Freddy postpones having a drink, to Roger's mild surprise, Freddy gets down to business -- he's apparently been freelancing, and he walked out of "JWT" with Pond's Cold Cream, a $2 million account. Roger asks how he managed that, and Freddy explains that he and the client are in a "fraternity" together, and I'm all for discretion, Freddy, but since you're going to come clean, so to speak, in a moment, I'd vote for not dangling the word "fraternity" in front of Roger. Getting on with it, Freddy says he can't service the account by himself, but he's clean and sober -- he hasn't had a drop to drink in sixteen months, and he'd like a job, adding that if it doesn't work out, SCDP can keep the account. Roger readily accepts, but Freddy's not quite done -- he doesn't want Pete anywhere near the account, and frankly, he's surprised they took him along. Rather than go into a long story about how they needed accounts quick and Pete was obviously far more motivated to leave than Ken, Roger simply shakes Freddy's hand and, with a wry smile, replies, "No comment." Heh. He does look thrilled to have his old pal back, although I wonder if he's really grasped the "no drinking" thing quite yet.

Don's got Pete and Peggy in his office talking ham (and from the bit we hear, it sounds like sales have gone waaaaaay up, so suck on that, Don) when Roger brings Freddy in; you'll be shocked, I'm sure, to learn that the relative happiness to see him starts with Peggy and ends with Pete, although the latter does shake his hand and ask how he is, getting a genial reply that he couldn't be better: "I was just talking about you!" Hee. Roger breaks the news about Pond's Cold Cream, and Don fires off one of his typical bon mots: "That explains why you look so good!" I wouldn't be surprised if he left for the day after that one. Don goes to pour drinks for the drinkers, and Roger tries to send a signal by asking if it isn't a little early, but Don doesn't take the hint, coming as it was from someone who knows where in the world it's five o'clock at every moment of every day, so it falls to Freddy to explicitly decline the offer, also to Don's mild surprise. After Roger waves Pete off the account, Pete starts to ask, basically

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