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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

a few thoughts on ‘Mad Men’: “Blowing Smoke”

There’s a time for beans, and there’s a time for ketchup.

I wondered where the reappearance of Midge and her — !! — heroin addiction was going. I thought: Is Don seeing the ugly flip side of the creative life, the alternative to what he has in his corporate world? But it was more of a likening than a contrast: Don Draper’s creative life has had its own addiction with tobacco. But is his shocking, way-ahead-of-its-time full-page letter-ad in The New York Times a genuine expression of how he feels, or is it a manipulative ploy calculated to rebrand Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce?

It could be both, of course. It’s certainly brilliant, whether it ends up working or not. Peggy was right that the best thing for the agency is to rebrand itself, to apply their advertising smarts to themselves as the client.

But a rebrand usually demands a name change… and I guess now that Cooper has quit, we’re down to Sterling Draper Pryce. That’s got a ring to it, too.
(I still think the series could very well end with Don and Peggy left to run their own agency, or going off to start a new one: Draper Olson? Geez, maybe Pete will be in on it, too. I figured he would be the first to go when the shit really started hitting the fan in this episode, and I never would have expected Don to bail him out. Draper Olson Campbell? Nah, DOC sounds silly, and everyone would say it like doc. But DCO sounds like an ad agency.)

Poor Sally, trying to grow up and not being allowed to: She’s gonna bypass her mother in the maturity department before too long. Nice parallel with how SDCP is “supposed” to be behave when courting new clients, “like a good girl”: “We will listen more than we will speak.” Sally may not be a “good girl,” but she may be on her way to be a confident woman, if Betty doesn’t sabotage her. Betty can’t be anything but the “good girl,” though, even if it makes her angry and stressed out. We see see how simply be allowed to talk about herself does Sally a world of good. But Betty can’t admit the same about herself: She obviously needs to talk, and Sally’s shrink recognizes that, but Betty refuses to talk to a therapist of her own. I half think she doesn’t want the shrink to cut back on Sally’s visits so Betty doesn’t have to cut back on her chats with the doctor.

Sally’s noticed the infinite recursion of the Indian lady on the Land o’ Lakes butter box. Maybe she should ask her father what advertising purpose such imagery supports…



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