Mad Men “For Immediate Release”: An Expert Opinion

For Immediate Release

Mad Men “For Immediate Release”: An Expert Opinion

In an episode that saw a rekindling of sorts between Don and Megan Draper, I present a brief snippet of a conversation between me and my wife.

 

Me: So what did you think about that episode?

Her: I was disappointed.

Me: Really?

Her: (shrugs) I thought it was kind of boring.

Me: I thought it was packed. Sharky manoeuvrings, a big merger…there was a lot going on.

She makes a snoring sound.

Me: Too much boardroom intrigue, not enough bedroom intrigue?

Her: Exactly.

 

As the menacing cultural milestones of the late sixties await their cue, “For Immediate Release” kept true to the title, and was about the fallout caused by rash decisions. Or in Pete’s case, decisions that will likely result in a rash.

Don scored a moral victory of sorts by dropping Jaguar and the lecherous Herb Rennet. Everybody but Pete should have been pleased, but Joan was livid. Maybe reminder of her morally questionable slip is enough to rankle, but the idea that her quick decision to dive into the sheets lead to a partnership so I think it was hardly, as she herself avers, “all for nothing”.

The surprise merger is another curve ball. While this queasy alliance stretches the suspension of disbelief (Don’t both firms have partners? Wouldn’t everybody have to be involved in such a decision?), it does bring the business of advertising squarely back into the center of our attention. And despite my wife’s feelings otherwise, I think that’s what caused many of us to start watching.

Matthew Weiner himself made up for Joan’s single episode prostitution turn which I still contend should have been covered over a three episode arc at a minimum. The merger itself was hinted at by the end of “To Have and To Hold” when rival CGC exec Ted Chaough ruefully likens the business of big companies to a small slice of pie “and they throw the tiniest piece into the yard and let all the small agencies fight over it”. At the time, Don brushed it aside but at least it indicated that we are still in good hands with Weiner.

This has got me to thinking about what we expect from a show like Mad Men. Repetition is generally a plus for standard TV fare and while this is nothing but standard TV, I’m not sure why some audience members are surprised to see a re-emergence of ideas and themes as we get into the home stretch of the series’ run. Most series, even the most critically adored, are allowed to create a universe and wade in it. There is a restlessness to Mad Men fans, who seem to believe that Weiner’s steady steering of the boat indicates that each season should play out like an thirteen hour movie instead what it is–episodic television.

No doubt that Weiner had an endgame in mind from the pilot, but that doesn’t mean each year needs to run like a 24-style pressure cooker. The end is nigh but we shouldn’t be in any rush to get there.

Now if they could put some bedrooms in at the new SCDP/CGC offices, fans like my wife might get a bolt of sexiness along with their office politics.

Like what you’ve read? Sure you did! Jump over to Amazon to get my book Kings of Madison Avenue: The Unofficial Guide to Mad Men

And you can always find me at on twitter @kungfugripe

 

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