Mad Men

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Couch Baron: B+ | Grade It Now!
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It's 1962. What Else Is New?
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Eeeee, I can't believe the show is finally back! I've seen it heavily advertised, although the billboards have kind of let it speak for itself, which is somewhat ironic. Then again, if you haven't heard how great the first season was, you pretty much have to be dead, in which case, irony is probably lost on you.

The previouslies quickly hit the most important points, which is consistent. Mincing words is frowned on by characters both real and fictional around here, and I'm more than happy to follow suit.

The opening shot is of Joan zipping up a slinky red dress while looking in a mirror. It kind of calls to mind the iconic shot of Josie Packard putting on her makeup in the beginning of Twin Peaks, except that Christina Hendricks is frontally separated by about an entire alphabet from Joan Chen. Chubby Checker's "The Twist" plays as we fade into Peggy applying perfume and similarly getting ready, symbolically putting the two of them on an equal playing field in the new season. Pete fixes his hair as Trudy adoringly helps him with his cufflinks, and then we fade to a quick shot of someone changing the locks on Don's door before we see Betty, dressed in smart equestrian gear, riding a horse and taking instructions from a woman probably twenty years her senior.

Cut to Don taking off his dress shirt and getting weighed by a nurse, who tells him, "You're a big one." Like it wasn't tough enough not to have a crush on him. The doctor appears and thanks "Lily," who departs as the doc chastises Don first for not having had a physical in quite some time and then for having rather high blood pressure -- 160/100, to be precise. Asked for his parents' history, Don informs us that his mother died in childbirth, as we knew, but also lets us know that his father bought it in an accident in his early forties, which I think is new information. It's just too bad the doctor doesn't know how rare it is to hear Don open up like this -- he might want to rush out and buy a lottery ticket. He asks Don how many drinks he has a day, and Don tells him that on "days of plenty" he has three. I'd chastise him for obviously lying, but I suppose he could have been talking about fifths. The doc was not born yesterday, so he gets Don to admit five is closer to the mark before telling him that he needs to stop living quite so hard and giving him prescriptions for Reserpine for the blood pressure and Phenobarbital to help him relax. I'd wonder about the wisdom of giving barbiturates to an addictive, moody person, but as we'll find out, only two years have passed since the first season, and given what we saw of medicine and psychology then, just the fact that the doc doesn't give him a Scotch with which to wash the pills down is progress. He adds that Don is thirty-six, and needs to take these health issues seriously. I nod sagely at age thirty-eight, and then slap myself in the face.

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Mad Men

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