Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mad Men: The Good News

In respect to the fourth season of Mad Men, this is probably one of the most important episodes as it sets up one of the most tragic plot points of the series. Being new to the series, I'm not too familiar with Anna Draper, but from the first moment I saw her onscreen with Don, I knew she was extremely important to him. This episode offers us a rare look at Dick Whitman, the man Don Draper wishes he could always feel like, but can't without jeopardizing his creative career. He wants to be happy, but he also wants to be successful, and in the world that Matthew Weiner has created, you can't have the best of both worlds.

Given that this is the first time I've met Anna Draper, I like how free of stress she is compared to the depressed lives of the men in the office. It's something so rare and special that it seems better for Anna not to know what lies ahead for her. But regrettably, there is a world beyond California, and inhabiting it are the miserable lives of men like Lane Pryce and women like Joan. Joan is a really complicated character to get behind, because we at first sympathize with her for dealing with her husband potentially going to Vietnam, and she usually does a complete 180-degree turn into something of a shark. I feel like there's a magnificent story on the horizon for her.

I've always been a huge fan of Jarred Harris, from his short, but memorable stint on Fringe to his more emotionally hitting role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's nice to see him playing a more real character, and Pryce offers the perfect balance of dark humor for this show. He's thrown around quite a bit, and it offers us quite a bit of enjoyment. The last ten minutes offer him at his comedic best, and I always get a little smile whenever a comedian from the 1960's appears on a beloved television show. Ultimately, not a lot happens in this episode, but it's a welcome reprieve.

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