Thursday, April 18, 2024

“Mad Men” Returns, Jumps from Summer 1969 to Spring 1970: Don Dreams of Mortality


“Mad Men” returned tonight and jumped from the summer of 1969 to April 1970. How do we know? Don listens to Richard Nixon withdraw 150,000 troops from Southeast Asia on April 20th. During the episode titled “Severance” it seems like it might still be 1969, because Peggy Lee is singing “Is That All There Is?” and Joan is talking about L’Eggs stockings taking over the market. But the men’s hair styles have changed, and they all look like Sergeant Pepper. All except Don.

Oh, yes, Don: while all fashions change, Don remains the same. It’s on purpose. He doesn’t adapt at all to changing times. The world just whooshes around him. And while he’s certainly accepted the sexual revolution, that’s it. Life marches on around Don. And he dreams of his mortality. He has a dream about Rachel Katz (Maggie Siff) an old lover, only to discover subsequently that she’s died from leukemia. He sees a waitress in a diner who looks like her, and they have sex. Her name is “Di,” short for Diana. Oh my. Very David Lynch.

The other plots of “Severance” involve Ken Cosgrove, who is fired but gets revenge. He doesn’t need “Severance” and now he’s going to make the lives at Sterling Cooper very difficult. Peggy gets the other story; she tries to have a good time. She and Joan also disagree about the miserable way they’re treated by the men at McCann Erickson.

Mortality surrounds Don, and adds fuel to the fire that he’ll die in the end. Matthew Weiner likes playing with the audience, so who really knows? Meantime, the ads on AMC were pretty interesting: they took an ad for Showtime’s “Happyish” on a competing cable network. Weird.

Is that all there is, my friend?

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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