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Philly2Philly's Mad Men Recap: August 2, 2010

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By Diane Cooney and Brian Lynch

 Diane CooneyBrian Lynch

Every Monday morning during this season of Mad Men, our own Diane Cooney and Brian Lynch will offer their own commentary about the previous night's episode. Feel free to argue, debate, or offer your own commentary regarding Jon Hamm and co.- just keep it clean of course!

Disclaimer: This episode recap is for the week of July 25, 2010

Diane: I discovered Mad Men on demand right when I said good bye to my favorite shows this Television season: Fringe, Vampire Diaries, Chuck. Amazingly, AMC ran all three seasons this summer – so I ended up watching at least two episodes at a time to be caught up for this new season.

I’ll do my best not to include any major spoilers from seasons’ past. I recommend you watching them all… because the writing staff does some of the most intricate and subtle plotting I’ve ever seen on TV.

Brian: I’m what you’d call a recent convert to Mad Men. Recent in that – oh hey, Season 4 just started, and I have AMC on cable? Sweet. I’m totally watching this show. So, in true “new viewer friendly” fashion, I get a recap of the last season. Our hero is kind of a cool guy. He works for an ad agency – and he’s getting divorced. His agency’s about to get bought out… and does. He calls his wife a ho, starts assembling a new agency, and then gives said ho-tacular wife the kids. The new team assembles in somebody’s apartment, and the redhead with more curves than Lombard Street picks up the ringing phone. Bam, I’m re-capped.

We start off strong, with our hero, the cool guy, being asked the ultimate ego question – “Who is Don Draper?” – by a reporter for Advertising Age. Don’s curt, polite, yet evasive answer gives the reporter nothing to work with. Soon, the rest of Don’s fellow advertisers show up, and he’s whisked away to deal with a new client that wants to market a “wholesome” two-piece swimsuit.

Diane:  What Brian doesn’t know is that we’ve said good bye to a bunch of Sterling Cooper employees from last season, and now we’re living the new dream of Sterling Cooper Draper Price - sounds like the first line of a haiku. Fortunately, I think the new agency kept the best players from last season – and benefits from a new face in the mix.

I’m glad to see Peggy have a buddy at work – Joey Baird, the new copywriter, played by Matt Long. The fact that Mr. Long is cuter than Pete Campbell is a bonus! I don’t actually have anything against actor Vincent Kartheiser, but his character has been a major contributor to Peggy’s biggest problems. I sense the Peter/Peggy dynamic may be evolving into something a bit healthier this season – their tension manifests in mostly productive results for their clients. To the uninitiated - their personal back story is sordid and depressing.

Brian:  His new agency’s in the disdainful position of being “the creative, scrappy upstart” – something Don hates, and his co-worker loves. So, once one of their major accounts (a ham company) has decided to cut the campaign, this bunch of scrappy, creative upstarts starts scheming, and scheming big. Peggy meets with Pete and Joey, to develop a stunt. They go for it, and man – does it backfire.

Meanwhile, Don is dealing with the reality of divorce. It’s not his strong suit, so he sticks to the standard coping mechanisms of whiskey, starvation, and being slapped by hookers.

Diane:  My first thought when I watched the scene with Don and the Girl was, really? Don’s paying for it? Frankly I thought all the women he’s slept with the previous seasons were prettier… but then I got it. Don has developed a taste for something new this season and yeah, best to leave that to the professionals. (Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Hung explore that territory in more detail and with more skin.) I wonder if the slapping developed because now that he has Betty out of his life no one says “no” to him anymore.

Brian:  And how does reality deal with Don? His boss sets him up with a crazy young actress, he bombed the interview, the ex-wife refuses to budge from their house – and the stunt goes sour.

Diane:  Poor Peggy, she and her gentleman friend show up at Don’s door on Thanksgiving Day to pick up $280 to cover hush money and bail for their renegade actresses. The PR stunt collapsed upon itself.

Brian:  Of all the many straws to break Don Draper’s back, it’s those damn two-piece swimsuit guys – they’re so wholesome it hurts. He delivers them an ultimatum: “You need to decide what kind of company you are; comfortable, and dead - or risky, and possibly rich.” It’s a line so good, even he has to listen to it – right as he kicks them out of the office for being morons.

Diane:  I’m sick of Don being so hard on Peggy – last season I thought it was a realistic part of their journey as colleagues, but this year it feels like Don picks on her because he knows she will always be vulnerable – being the sole female on the creative team, he is also the only one that knows the full story of her secret revealed at the end of Season 1.

Brian:  Same time next week? Oh yes. Can’t wait.

Tune in every Monday for Diane and Brian's Mad Men Recap.

To contact or argue with Diane, reach her at DC@dianecooney.com

To contact or argue with Brian, reach him at  brian.andrew.lynch@gmail.com