a few thoughts on ‘Mad Men’: “Waldorf Stories”

Okay, so, herewith the sexism of the 1960s: Danny, the cure for the common copywriter, gets a job at SDCP thanks to nepotism, and no thanks to his utter lack of talent. But Peggy has to get naked with Stan, the new art director — not to have sex, but just to challenge his bullshit — in order to get him to at least acknowledge that she’s present in the room and a partner in the work they’re supposed to be doing. (Even when she wins, though, she loses, because know he thinks she’s a “smug bitch.”) Oh, and Peggy, who was nominated for a Clio for her work on the floor wax campaign, doesn’t get to attend the Clio Awards ceremony… but Joan does, so she can be bait for new clients.


Gotta love the rich irony of Don complaining that by the time a campaign is finished, it feels like everyone else has done your work… when he later forgets to acknowledge Peggy when they win the Clio for her work, and when he drunkenly appropriates Danny’s “cure for” line for the Life campaign.
Speaking of: Is Don’s drinking finally getting waaaay out of control? First he forgets that he stole Danny’s line, then he forgets that he sent Peggy and Stan to a hotel room to work; he goes to bed with one woman on Friday night and wakes up on Sunday morning with a different woman in bed with him, and he doesn’t even realize that it is Sunday. Yikes. All the booze-fueled interpersonal animosity that is dripping from this episode is nothing compared to Don’s lost weekend. (That moment, when Don wakes up to find Doris the waitress in his bed, has to be one of the most effective uses of editing I’ve ever seen. It so beautifully illustrates Don’s loss of memory.)

Hey: What is it about Joan, that Roger and Don each clasp her hand under the table when their category is called at the Clios? It’s not just that she’s gorgeous. It could be that she’s nearly a partner in the firm, and so they all have a real stake in whether they win this award or not, but I think it’s more than that. She’s like their totem, or their muse. That was a nice moment, actually, in which her position at the firm — she’s almost an unspoken leader — is acknowledged as important. Or am I missing some more unpleasant connotation of Don and Roger’s implusive act here?

The flashback! Who’da thunk Don Draper would be so fresh-faced, so eager, so desperate just prior to going to work at Sterling Cooper? It’s kind of amazing how Jon Hamm managed to look totally different in those scenes…

Best line of the episode, maybe: Lane’s “Roger Sterling is a child.”

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Sat, Sep 04, 2010 1:06pm

I love Jon Hamm’s portrayal of Dick Whitman before he turned into Don Draper: the wide eyes, eager beaver expression, his smile, and springy step. It’s so poignant to watch because Dick seems to be a much better man than Don, and Don seems to be realizing it as he spirals down to the bottom. The handsome, talented, confident Don will end up a mean, bitter, old drunk.

Sat, Sep 04, 2010 3:06pm

Loved Don/Dick’s little smirk at the end of the episode. I’d put money that Roger said no such thing!

Sat, Sep 04, 2010 5:10pm

Gosh, doesn’t Stan make you miss Sal?

I think Joan is everything Mary Ann mentioned in her post…and so much more. Her relationship to the guys also vaguely reminds me of the den mother Lauren Bacall played to the Rat Pack.

I can’t look at Danny without seeing Andrew from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Maybe a little black magic helped him get the gig too? ;)

I guess Don and Peggy are going to be fighting soon. She could help him get on track again, if she wanted to, I suppose, but he has a nasty habit of lashing out at her during tense times. I also worry that Don won’t be able to maintain his secret for much longer…especially with that Ted guy buzzing around him like a fly. No Sally this episode…too bad.

Sat, Sep 04, 2010 10:09pm

I think it’s that Joan is whip-smart — not that that’s what the men would realize they’re appreciative of. She’s savvy and she knows how to handle people and make nearly impossible things happen. She’s saved those men’s asses more times than they can probably count. And she doesn’t really lord it over them in a way they’d find threatening — she’s still sweet and sexy and charming. Oh, how I love Joan!

I totally agree with MaryAnn re the editing from Friday night to Sunday morning — wow. I loved that Doris the waitress (who looked like a younger, sort of blowsy Meg Ryan, no?) knew Don as “Dick,” and Don’s expression when he realized that. And how sad for the Draper kids to be stood up. I feel like we’ve been teetering on the brink for a while with Don’s drinking — thinking, hmm, it’s getting worse, but then in the context of the time and place, maybe it’s not a huge problem? Well, after the end of this ep, it’s clearly become a problem. Interesting that Duck had a sloppy drunken cameo at the Clios. Poor Duck. I wonder if we’ll ever find out what happened after we last saw him during his affair with Peggy (gag).

Another editing moment I loved — when Don and Roger shook hands and it cut immediately to Roger’s flashback of meeting Don. I didn’t realize right away what had happened, and for a second I thought, my God, what’s happened to Don, with his smile and eager eyes (and poofier hair)? Oh right — that’s the old Don — that’s his “Dick” face. How sad.

But didn’t he show some “Dick” facial expressions and demeanor the drunker he got on Clios night? The way he bounded up on the stage with a grin to accept his award — it was like the facade was cracking.

This episode seemed to focus on people’s ascent and descent. Roger’s Idiot (*totally* still Danny from Buffy!) clawing his way into the big time through a superior’s drunken error, just like Don did back in the day. Seeing drinking problems go from bad (Don) to worse (Duck), and seeing Roger both drinking too much (and chastised by Joan about it, which looked like it stung) and being marginalized by his colleagues, dictating his pathetic memoirs. And in a brief happy moment, being reminded that Peggy is only 25 and thus might retire from advertising, theoretically, in 2005, when she’d have a whole lot less shit to put up with. Hang in there, Peggy.

Lady Tenar
Lady Tenar
Sat, Sep 04, 2010 10:57pm

But didn’t he show some “Dick” facial expressions and demeanor the drunker he got on Clios night? The way he bounded up on the stage with a grin to accept his award — it was like the facade was cracking.

I agree. The alcohol seems to bring that out in him, as Doris could attest. I noticed it even more when he was in the meeting with the Life Cereal guys desperately throwing out new pitches. The “please love me!” look and the sort of frenzied seeking of approval–it’s a sort of neediness that Don Draper never, ever lets show but is clearly still in there somewhere.

Mon, Sep 06, 2010 4:04pm

You know what I love about Mad Men?

The commercials. Watch them, instead of fast-forwarding with your DVR. Several of them each week are customized for the Mad Men viewing audience with vintage knowledge. Recently, Unilever started inserting Mad Men-like commercials. Loved the one for Breyer’s Ice Cream last week. The link to Unilever goes to an article which includes an ad for Dove.