'Mad Men’s’ premiere celebrates the big 4-0
March 26th, 2012
11:30 AM ET

'Mad Men’s’ premiere celebrates the big 4-0

Editor's Note: The following post contains spoilers for the March 25 episode of AMC's "Mad Men."

The fifth season of AMC's "Mad Men" is officially underway, and spoiler alert: it was a total downer.

But that's not to say that it wasn't also completely terrific. Some of us might have even staged an impromptu conga line through our living rooms in celebration.

As with many season premieres, we were put through the old "Hey! Remember this storyline?" rigmarole, and since the gang at SCDP has been MIA for so long, we were in definite need of an FYI.

Don and Megan had settled into married life in a new apartment in the city with Sally, Bobby v. 4.0 and baby Gene. There was an alarming lack of Betty in the premiere, and we only saw a glimpse of her life as Mrs. Henry Francis when Don returned the kids. The Francis home loomed ominously in the darkness like some 19th century New England convent school for wayward debutantes.

Joan, meanwhile, was busy balancing single parenthood with the misguided intentions of her pot-stirring, maintenance man-wooing, maybe-alcoholic mother, who was in town to help out while Dr. Rapist (still in the picture, sorry folks) was, I dunno, up to something horrible at Fort Dix.

Pete continued to carry out his life sentence in the wood-paneled prison in the suburbs he shares with Trudy while struggling to assert himself at the firm during the day. He was eventually rewarded with a new office while Harry was sent packing to Support Beam Estates.

Layne fantasized about a liaison with a working class gal named Delores, and Peggy had undertaken the thankless task of trying to choreograph a ballet for a can of beans.

Yep. That was the extent of Peggy's plot this week. You owe us, writers.

The episode centered on Don's 40th birthday and the surprise party Megan was advised not to throw for him. Remember when 40 was about the age your loved ones started to think about wishing you well and shoving you out to sea on an ice floe? Don likely would have chosen that as a preferable alternative had he known what awaited him at the apartment.

The celebration was truly a smorgasbord of WTF. If your eyes managed to survive the assault by the myriad loud patterns in attendance, you'd have found a little bit of everything – sailors, a jazz band, a black guy with a speaking role, Harry in a shaggy fur vest. The only things missing were the Crème de Menthe water cooler and an accidental maiming.

Megan commemorated the occasion by performing an ancient French Canadian ritual that required her to eschew pants and serenade her significant other. Had I paid more attention in high school French class, I probably could have told you what she sang. Regardless, it was something with a lot of Z's that I think had to do with kissing.

The takeaway from the party was that aside from co-workers, lovers and clients, Don doesn't have any true friends. He was mortified by the whole affair and later admonished Megan for celebrating a birthday that was nothing more than an aspect of Dick Whitman's lifelong masquerade as Don Draper. “Nobody loves Dick Whitman," she replied, delivering an unintentionally harsh blow as viewers in living rooms across the country bellowed "DAAAAAMN" out of sympathy for Don.

At the firm, the gang found itself confronted with the decade’s civil rights struggle thanks in part to a string of events that began with the mean-spirited hijinks of a couple of knuckleheads at competing firm Young & Rubicam.

In what was intended to be an act of good-natured ribbing, Roger bought ad space in the newspaper’s help wanted section stating that SCDP was an Equal Opportunity Employer. As a result, their waiting room was quickly filled to capacity with black men and women looking for work.

The ad also sent Joan into a panic thinking she was finished at the firm, so she put on her postpartum best and rolled into the office with baby Kevin in tow.

As further proof that babies don’t belong in the workplace, little Kevin’s arrival created considerable awkwardness for everyone – for Joan, for the other ladies in the office and especially for me when Don complimented Joan’s bust line from down the hall. BUXOM. That was the word he used. Shudder.

So it looks like the days of the racially insensitive workplace bon mot might be behind us, but the sexual harassment? The harassment stays in the picture.

What did you think? Was Sunday's premiere worth the 17-month wait?

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Filed under: Mad Men • television • TV recaps

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Stan Levenson

    Waited 17 months not worth the wait hope the writers can come up a better story line. It has to get better it cannot get any worse

    March 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lenore Johns

    If this show only had blacks in it you bigots would be raising h ell.Yes there were black businesses in the sixties.

    March 28, 2012 at 4:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. steve in ATL

    As with many ex-Mad Ave veterans, I adore this show and the opener for me was a nice foreshadow that there are plenty of hijinx ahead this season. But there's something my wife and I are still waiting for: when do we learn how this country bumpkin hayseed transformed into the iconic Don Draper? Obviously someone or something in his history was responsible for this transformation, but I have yet to detect a clue as to how. With Matthew Weiner's excruciating attention to detail, I'm sure this will be revealed in time... but some of us are impatient!

    I wonder when Don will start taking his smoke breaks on the roof?

    March 28, 2012 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. coach4771

    Piscesgal,oh come on!!

    March 27, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Piscesgal

    As much as I want to watch this show, I am boycotting shows that have no minority actors in a supporting or leading role. Hollywood or AMC needs to get with the times because this is a multi-cultural and diverse America and this show demonstrates none of that.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saluki17

      You need to get a brain about the times the show is set in. It is still early 1960s and, sadly, there was little or no diversity, especially at the executive level in industries like advertizing. Heck, there's only one female character that isn't a secretary, again, historically accurate. So you'd prefer to rewrite history to be politically correct? THAT I would boycott!

      March 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Leucadia Bob


    March 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jennifer

    SNOOZEFEST. I didn't care about any of the story lines, except Joan's - SCANDALOUS! Megan is horrible as an actress and just as a little girl wifey thing to Don. And something much more exciting better happen to Peggy next week. I love her character.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. artfuldater

    Watching the episode again right now. What was your favorite scene? This was definitely mine:

    March 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. derp

    That big redhead is just about perfect. I'd lick her all over.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Courtney

    Loved it when Roger said to his his wife at Don's Party-Why dont you sing like that-referencing Don's Wife and her response was-Why dont you look like that-referencing Don. Hilarious!!! Loved the episode!!!

    March 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Schlummy

    I really don't understand the concept of this show. Are these men angry or mentally unstable. Instead of using a ubiquitous word like "mad", why don't they use a more precise term. Why don't they call the program "The Show for Gays and Lesbeans" ?

    March 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Namaste

      You obviously don't watch the show. "Mad" refers to "Madison Avenue"...where they work. The term "Mad Men" is what the ad execs on Madison Ave used to call themselfs in the 60's, it's not an original name for the show.

      March 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThisJustIn

      "Mad Men" is a slang term for advertising executives who work on Madison ("Mad") Avenue in New York City.

      Although there definitely could be double entendre...

      March 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Les

    5 seconds it too long to wait for the next Mad Men episode but yes, it was so worth the wait. Everything was worth it from Megan's knock kneed dance of embarrassment to Peggy's ballet for beans (I must be the only person on the continent who loved the concept – slo-mo beans arabesque-ing into sauce was a great image I thought) and a lobby full of applicants taking Roger's EEO prank seriously was the creme de la creme. Unless the extra was Harry's mouth completely overrunning his brain. I was glad to see the 60s end but Man Men should run forever.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yea

    Great show, worth the wait.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. jess

    Yes – was definitely worth the wait.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. lol

    Is this the show richard fores daddy, Observer, likes?

    March 26, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |

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