Sunday, April 11, 2010

Season Three of Mad Men: The quibbles (SPOILER ALERT!)

As I said in yesterday's post, I liked the third season of Mad Men a lot. I thought it was a big improvement over the second season. Even so, there were some story lines I didn't like and some that I thought didn't make sense. These complaints are small compared to the positives, but I bring them up anyway.

(Important plot points of season three now discussed. Avert your eyes if you haven't watched yet and want to be surprised.)


Mother of mercy, is this the end of Salvatore Romano? The answer to that question looks like a "yes", and that's too bad.

Sal was a great character. Played by openly gay actor Bryan Batt, it's as plain as day to modern audiences that Sal is gay, but nobody at Sterling Cooper can make the connection. Sometimes it was played for laughs in a quiet way. There's a scene where beautiful young Betty Draper is shocked that a movie entitled The Best of Everything would think that Joan Crawford is any competition for beautiful young Suzy Parker. Don casually mentions that Sal loves Joan Crawford. Sal also has a scene where he savages what Loretta Young wore on her show the night before. Nobody bats an eye.

The reason they gave that Sal had to be fired makes perfect sense. The guy from Lucky Strike is mad at him and that account is worth a lot more than an art director, even a good one.

Even so, I wanted to see where they were going to go with his story. And after the ridiculously handsome Jon Hamm, Bryan Batt was the best looking guy in a very good looking cast. This is a show that knows that eye candy is important.


Somebody loses a foot, somebody gots to GO! Okay, the John Deere scene. It was great. Just like the scene where Fred Rumsen was found having peed himself, it feels like a true anecdote dressed up to be made part of the story.

Also, let's consider the real world. John Deere decided to sign off on this plot twist. That took some guts on their part to have their product portrayed in a bad light.

The only thing is, if it happened, someone would have to take the fall for it, and the best bet would be the incompetent Lois who was driving the damn thing. Ken Cosgrove, who first drove the tractor into the office before the party where everybody was drunk, might have to take the brunt as well, but Lois and Ken are still on the staff at the end of the season, and that's just not right.

Did Roger Sterling get a mulligan on his heart attack? Roger had the heart attack a while back and there were a few episodes that showed him as frail. He was supposed to stop smoking and cut back on drinking. In the third season, he seems to smoke or drink or both in nearly every scene.

For a show that prides itself on actions having consequences, the non-aftermath of the John Deere episode and Roger's no cost return to bad habits don't feel right in terms of the writing.

Peggy and Duck? Yuck. Having Peggy and Duck hook up isn't illogical, given the assumption that Peggy is always falling for the wrong guy. I just didn't buy it. I saw the second half of season three first, so now that I've seen it from beginning to end, I expected things to make more sense, but this is the relationship that I still can't fathom.

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Again, let me say it. Quibbles. Mad Men is still an interesting show and now that I have a Mac and iTunes TV shows work just fine, I'll probably go ahead and subscribe to the show when season four becomes available, just so I can hold my own at the water cooler with a co-worker at Mills who also loves the show. I am often not a loyal TV viewer, but I like the change in direction promised in the next year, even though it means some interesting characters are going to have to go by the wayside.


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