Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"The outside looks great. the inside is rotten."

That's how Jon Hamm describes his Mad Men character, Don Draper, in James Poniewozik's great pre-season profile in Time magazine. Sunday night's season premiere did not disappoint. As the final season opens we see Draper, as miserable as ever, trying to claw his way back. Weiner's ad man is a complex one. The man who's life "moves in one direction: forward," (remember his brother, Adam?)          has run out of new frontiers. Poniewozik says, quite brilliantly, he now must fix himself or fail.

So we see a Don Draper who isn’t preoccupied with drinking and shagging. He just wants to get back to work. So desperate is he to continue working during his forced exile from Sterling Cooper & Partners, he’s playing Cyrano to freelance copy/contact man Freddie Rumsen.

Pete’s taking to L.A. like a fish to water. Roger’s hedonistic lifestyle is reaching new heights. Peggy’s as miserable as Don. Elisabeth Moss is amazing.

On the business side, it’s the beginning of a new era. The agencies can no longer take for granted their clients will be hard drinking WW II veteran bean counters or engineers. When Joan is forced to deal with an MBA type from the shoe manufacturer who looks young enough to be her kid, we see for the first time the challenge of clients bringing their advertising in-house. Get used to it guys. It’s gonna be a recurring theme for the next 40 years.

Worth noting…

The season promo poster art – very 1969-ish – was done by Milton Glaser. Classy move. As with the show's perfect sixties-era props, authenticity is the key.

The Time magazine web site has a great Draper’s-eye view of the Time-Life building. Well that fits, because that’s where they are, and that’s where SC&P opened up shop in 1964. It’s fun to see those images from 1959-1960 when the mid-century was new. Stunning architecture and real enduring style.

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