Monday, June 17, 2013

Mad Men: The Quality of Mercy

That was a pretty good episode. It wasn't good enough to justify all the painful "setting up" we've had to put up with this season but it was good.

For starters I'll take a victory lap on Rosemary's Baby. While everyone else was running around fantasizing about Sharon Tate, I directed you to Mia Farrow.

It was a bit heavy-handed to have Ted put Don in the place of the baby. And then the episode ends with Peggy calling Don a monster, thereby echoing what Bert Cooper said back in Season 4, and then a shot of Don curled up like a baby on his office couch. Then, and I think this is important, it fades out with the Monkees singing "The Porpoise Song". Why would that be important? Because the Monkees are the fake Beatles and "The Porpoise Song" was a fake psychedelic song written by a couple of old Tin Pan Alley hands. Just as they could make up a girls name and write a convincing love song about her, Gerry Goffin and Carole King could crank out a fake John Lennon druggie song on command (and, not incidentally, do it better than him).

The point is not to carefully study Rosemary's Baby or, God forbid such a thing, the lyrics of "The Porpoise Song" but to recognize that the creators have used these bits of popular culture from the time to launch the premise. (Although I am tempted to go back to the Season 4 launch epiosde and check for clues). Rosemary's Baby perfectly reflected the mood of a public that saw the culture going out of control in 1968, a point nicely reflected by Megan's comment that the movie was "so realistic". Of course it wasn't but it did reflect how people felt.

I like the new twist on the Bob Benson plotline. I think it's meant to tie in with Sally's experience at Miss Porter's school. That is handled accurately, by the way. Private schools gained cachet when The Preppy Handbook was published in 1980 but back in the late 1960s and 1970s, private schools was where parents sent kids they couldn't control or to get them out of the house during messy marital problems or, as often was the case, both. Anyway, I think the point that Weiner* is quietly making is that the elite of that era no longer deserved to be the elite and thus the possibility of people like Don Draper and Bob Benson rising.

Finally, until tomorrow, poor Pete saves Bob, not of mercy but of fear of "people like him" for people like Don and Bob have an antichrist like feel to a genuine insider like Pete.

Off to read the other commentary now.

*Although I could have done without the hunting accident that is clearly meant to make us think of Dick Cheney. Weiner seems to be obsessed with hating Republicans.

1 comment:

  1. Weiner said in his online commentary that Campbell's decision not to expose Bob represented growth and a realization that he couldn't fight someone like Bob so don't even try. Campbell is also of course worried about the damage Bob could do if he left SC given his history which is why he wants to keep him under his nose where he can see him.
    I'm all in favor of people like Bob and even Don trying to rise above and reinvent themselves. The question is how far is it ethical to go in order to accomplish that? Bob lied about his credentials, I know of two cases within the last couple of years where that resulted in the people who did that getting fired. The other option Bob--and even Don--had was starting out in the mail room, or some other low level position and working their way up. Maybe I'm naive, but that's how it used to be done, maybe today that isn't possible without some kind of connection who will go to bat and help you along the way, but those types of relationships have to be cultivated. Instead, Don got Roger drunk and then showed up at SC the next day and told Roger he had hired him. Bob lied about his credentials and was able to charm Cosgrove and Campbell into hiring him. So there is an ethical dimension to this, even if Bert Cooper says "who cares."