Mad Men: Season 5, Episode 9–Dark Shadows

SPOILER WARNING – THIS IS FROM LAST NIGHT’S US BROADCAST, AND MAJOR PLOT POINTS ARE DISCUSSED. DON’T READ AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN EPISODE 9 YET.

“I’m thankful that I have everything I want. And that no one else has anything better.”

MadMenBetty

Less portentous and existential than last week, this week’s Mad Men still offered another slice of angst in the lives of a selected few characters. Don’s increasing insecurity (not to mention Peggy’s) in the face of new young competition came up, along with the repercussions of Roger’s recent decision to end his marriage. But the lion’s share of the episode belonged to the little-seen-recently Betty and the way her own unhappiness is blighting the lives of everyone around her, including Don and especially Sally.

January Jones was on formidable form this week as Betty, increasingly frustrated with her unsuccessful attempts to lose weight after ballooning between seasons. Having established that her chubbiness is a result of psychological unhappiness rather than illness, Betty’s taken to attending Weight Watchers, then in its infancy as a New York-based therapy group. It has to be said, none of the women in Betty’s group looked particularly fat by today’s standards; a knowing comment, perhaps, on the increasing levels of obesity since the 60s?

Either way, Weight Watchers doesn’t seem to be making Betty any happier. Despite her strict diet of burned toast and grapefruits (plus fish five days a week, to her husband’s annoyance), she’s still not losing much weight. And when Betty’s unhappy, she takes it out on those around her. As has so frequently been the case in the past, those first in the firing line are daughter Sally and ex-husband Don.

Despite occasional cordial relations with Don, it’s clear that Betty’s never really got over the breakup of their marriage. This was made abundantly clear as she stopped by Don’s swanky new penthouse apartment to pick up the kids. You’d think the palatial mansion she lives in with Henry would be enough to keep her happy, but no, she’s clearly salivating with jealousy at Don’s hip furnishings and view of the Manhattan skyline. As if that wasn’t enough, she catches a glimpse of his new model wife Megan getting dressed, with that perky figure Betty herself no longer has.

We kept returning to Betty’s increasing frustration throughout, and it finally boiled over when she found young Bobby’s drawing of what appeared to be a harpooned Moby Dick (a symbol for Betty’s fruitless quest for happiness perhaps?) Discovering the rather sweet note from Don to Megan on the other side of the drawing, Betty’s jealousy and annoyance led her to try and torpedo the perceived happiness her ex and his new wife lived in. In doing so, she once again found herself using poor old Sally as a weapon, ‘innocently’ asking why her daughter’s family tree didn’t include Don’s (ie Dick Whitman’s) first ‘wife’ Anna.

That’s a nasty tactic by any means. Sally was plainly unaware of her father’s tortuous history, and it would be pretty complicated to explain to an adult, never mind a twelve-year-old. So she immediately blew up at Megan (another effect Betty was aiming for, perhaps) for lying to her. Stuck in the middle of an obviously bitter row between Don and Betty, poor old Megan couldn’t really deal with this.

It was only when Sally overheard Don and Megan having a flaming row over the matter that she realised what so many children from ‘broken homes’ have before her – she was being used as a pawn between two bitterly estranged people trying to hurt each other, with no regard for her own feelings. Again, Kiernan Shipka’s performance was astoundingly mature as Sally played an absolute blinder; when ‘innocently’ asked by Betty how her questioning of Don had gone, she simply shrugged and made out that it had been no big deal at all. I couldn’t help laughing and exclaiming, “well played, Sally!” That’s how much Mad Men draws me in sometimes.

Back at the office, we had two big plots going on. Don found his alpha male status increasingly threatened by the talent of young Ginsberg, and Roger tried comically to adapt to acceptance of New York’s Jewish community in order to screw over Pete Campbell by nabbing another account.

Of these two, the Roger storyline was the more obviously funny;  you can always rely on Roger for a few laughs. Witness his frustration at having to secretly bribe yet another copywriter in his attempts to damage Pete, and his awkward attempts at acceptance of Jews. Ginsberg handled it well though, and Roger’s enough of an old smoothie to still manage to charm his Jewish potential client.

This was in no small part thanks to the help of his now-estranged wife Jane. There was a comical moment when Bert Cooper (who we don’t see often enough), found out that Roger had separated; he looked at his watch and harrumphed, “what, already?” But Roger needed Jane (she’s Jewish, remember) to show the clients how accepting he is. She certainly charmed wine magnate Rosenberg’s handsome son Bernie – I wonder if that will go anywhere in later episodes?

Perhaps not, because she ended up back with Roger. It’s clear since their acid trip that she’s not as sanguine about the end of their marriage as he is; now we realised that he’s not entirely over it either. So he dragooned his way into the new apartment he’d bought Jane so she could be free of the memories in their old one, and took advantage of the presumably drunk Jane to have his way with her. The man’s incorrigible, and certainly doesn’t learn lessons.

It was a bitter conclusion to an otherwise amusing plotline, as a repentant Roger was told by the tearful Jane that he’d just made her new apartment as painful to be in as her old one. One of the things that makes Roger likeable despite the horrible things he does is the obvious fondness behind his thoughtlessness; we saw last week how fond he still is of former wife Mona, and it now seems Jane is another he bears no ill will towards. Whether she feels the same is uncertain. But she knows Roger. He does what he does because he has no thought for the consequences of his actions; and based on the last five seasons, he’s unlikely to change any time soon.

Don, as usual, had the slightly more serious storyline. Stumbling over Ginsberg’s copybook on his way out of the office, he realised how talented the younger man was – talented in a way that Don himself doubts he is any more. So he stayed in the office (missing Betty’s awkward visit to his apartment) running through some frankly hokey sounding proposals for something called ‘Sno Balls’ (these might be a real product, but as a non-American I’m completely unaware of them).

After figuratively sweating blood over it, Don came up with a half decent proposal, but in the pitch meeting, Peggy and Rizzo seemed to prefer Ginsberg’s. Ginsberg himself probably compounded the problem with his amusing surprise that Don still “had it”. And with that, the fight was on – not that Ginsberg even knew. Don was threatened, however much he denied it, and after being frustrated in his every attempt to gain the upper hand, resorted to the downright sneaky tactic of simply leaving Ginsberg’s proposal in the cab when he went to pitch to the clients.

I don’t think we’ve seen Don resorting to this kind of underhand strategy out of desperation very often before. It led to a marvellous two handed scene in the elevator (increasingly where characters in the show go to have frosty exchanges). Ginsberg, having realised he’d been screwed over, nettled Don with his own youth and potential: “I’ve got millions more ideas. Millions of them”, following that up with a zinger: “You know, I feel sorry for you.” To which Don coldly came back with, “I don’t think about you at all.” But that wasn’t an argument-winning line because Don – and the viewer – knows that it’s a lie.

So if there was a theme at all in this week’s angst-ridden drama, it was denial. Betty’s denial of her own obvious unhappiness; Don’s denial of his obsolescence; Roger’s denial that he still has feelings for his ex-wives. And even Pete’s denial that his affair with Howard’s wife is over – in one of the more comical scenes, he fantasises that she’s come to the office wearing a fur coat and little else. Lucky he’s got that couch in his office, he plainly needed a lie down.

A few historical notes anchored the show in 1966. Megan was clearly running lines from classic gothic horror soap opera Dark Shadows, which began in June of that year. Given that it ran for five years and is fondly remembered as a cult show, Megan’s assessment of it as “crap” is amusing. After all, it must be well-remembered to have inspired the title of this episode! Elsewhere, Henry’s obviously annoyed that New York City mayor John Lindsay isn’t running in the 1966 State Governor race; that went to Nelson Rockefeller for a second time. Rockefeller would later go on to be Vice President under Gerald Ford. As Henry crossly comments, he’s backed the wrong horse in sticking with Lindsay.

And finally, this week’s Hideous Checked Sports Coat count – low. It’s November, so everyone’s switched to Hideous Checked Overcoats:

MadMenGinsberg

But for a bit of variety, the head of Betty’s Weight Watchers class has a Hideous Checked Housecoat:

MadMenWeightWatchers

More eye-watering 60s fashions amid the existential angst next week…

Mad Men: Season 5, Episode 6–Far Away Places

“I have an announcement to make. It’s going to be a beautiful day.”

MadMenDonRoger

After the last couple of weeks tight focus, this week’s Mad Men continued the trend with yet another episode of detailed character study. It’s a Peggy episode… No wait, it’s a Roger and Jane episode… Hang on, it’s actually a Don and Megan episode… I can’t stand the confusion in my mind!

Actually, it was all three of these, cleverly interweaved in a Robert Altman/Quentin Tarantino non-linear narrative to take place over roughly the space of the same day. Mad Men has played with dramatic form before, but never, I think, so boldly. Series creator Matthew Weiner has said that the tricksy structure of this episode was inspired by French anthology films, but I suspect like most people of my generation, the first thing I thought when I realised what was going on was, “oh, it’s Pulp Fiction.”

And it did take me a little while to realise what was going on. Not until we were some way into the Don/Megan narrative and I saw the same moment of them telling Peggy they were off to Howard Johnson’s, in fact. In retrospect, I was being pretty dumb – though I did wonder why Roger turned up in Don’s office proposing a trip to Howard Johnson’s when I thought he and Megan had just been there. And I did expect that, when Peggy was called by an obviously flustered Don from a call box in the first story, there’d be some payoff to explain his consternation. So, dumb old me was being less than perceptive this week – ironic, in an episode so concerned with people’s perceptions that it featured at its centre Roger Sterling tripping on acid.

But I’m getting ahead of myself (much like the story structure of this episode). In many ways, we were in familiar Mad Men territory here; the script dealt yet again with the relationships between the male and female characters, with a dose of reminding us how difficult it could be to balance those relationships with a professional career. Especially for Peggy, who’s still struggling to be taken seriously in the man’s world of copywriting.

Peggy’s relationship was the first to be subjected to what I suppose would be appropriate to call an acid test. She started her narrative in bed with her on/off boyfriend Abe (and who would have thought he looked so good clad only in a pair of white briefs?). Bur she couldn’t concern herself with such niceties as going to the movies or having sex – she had her long-awaited Heinz pitch to think about.

In many ways, this scene was an amusing gender reversal of common Mad Men moments, particularly from  when Don and Betty were still together. In this case, Peggy was, revealingly, basically a female Don – so preoccupied with work that her frustrated partner eventually angrily asked her if it was over between them. And just like Don, Peggy was too deep in thought about work to even give him a proper answer. No wonder he ended up storming out after saying that he wasn’t like most men in that regard.

The Heinz pitch didn’t go well, with bean supremo Raymond less than impressed with Peggy’s idea even though he’d asked for precisely what he got. The heavy implication, of course, was that he couldn’t take Peggy as seriously as he would Don; he even asked if Don had signed off on the proposal. All credit to Elisabeth Moss for this scene – you could actually see the moment when Peggy reached the end of her tether, and just let Raymond have it in a tirade that was either bold or suicidal – we’ve yet to see which.

And of course, Raymond responded not with the respect he’d have given Don, but by likening Peggy to his teenage daughter. I’m not surprised she was frustrated enough to go and get stoned and give a strange man a handjob in a movie theater. Odd choice of movie though; Born Free has certainly made me crave the former activity, but never the latter…

But the most significant aspect of the Peggy narrative was what she – and we – began to learn about eccentric newcomer Ginsberg. He’s fiercely protective of his privacy, and seems to want to keep his father hidden away, even though his father seems quite a likeable guy. Quizzing Ginsberg on this, Peggy was first told that he was actually a Martian – solemn but eccentric, we thought. Then he revealed that he’d actually been born in a concentration camp, never knew his mother, and was adopted from a Swedish orphanage.

Hard to know if that was trademark eccentricity too, but it had the ring of truth about it. It certainly unsettled Peggy; enough that she had to call Abe over in the middle of the night, like a resource she could summon at a moment’s notice. I wonder if her thing with Abe really is coming to an end – because it looks like there might be something brewing between her and the enigmatic, quirky Ginsberg. If so, good. He seems very interesting. And it shows that Peggy may have a recurring taste in Jewish intellectuals, something I can empathise with.

Roger too was dealing with intellectuals, in the most out-and-out funny section of the episode, which nevertheless was still fraught with significance for his increasingly moribund relationship with trophy wife Jane. In her previous (infrequent) appearances, Jane has shown urges to be taken seriously as an intellectual, much to Roger’s amusement. Now we saw him indulging her with a trip to a very pseudo, middle class dinner party, which took an unexpected turn when the host suggested they leave a discussion until after they “turned on.”

No surprise in retrospect – if I caught the host’s name correctly, he was Dr Timothy Leary. Certainly his obsession with the Tibetan Book of the Dead would fit with that being the case. When it became clear that Roger was grudgingly going to experiment with hallucinogenic drugs, I was – like last week – eagerly leaning forward murmuring, “I really want to see this!”

I also had a moment of dread that Mad Men would lose its usual subtle restraint, and we’d be presented with the usual audio-visual headfuck that most shows seem to think best represents an acid trip. But no – in typical Mad Men style, the trip (shown exclusively from Roger’s POV) was handled with intelligence and subtlety. No swirling colours and Grateful Dead soundtrack here. Instead, we got the Beach Boys and laugh-out-loud moments as the drug took hold.

First, Roger had a few weird auditory hallucinations – a vodka bottle played Russian classical music at him when he opened it, causing him to open and close it over and over again to repeat the effect. Just when I couldn’t stop laughing at that, he got fixated on a hair colour ad with half a man’s grey hair recoloured to black, then took the unfortunate step of glancing at himself in the mirror:

MadMenRoger

After I stopped laughing at his resemblance to Two-Face, the trip took a turn for the significant, as Leary, advising him not to look at his reflection, suddenly turned into a calm, authoritative Don Draper. Trip-Don advised Roger to go to his wife, which he duly did, and after a bit of dancing which Roger viewed as out of his body, he and Jane took a cab to continue their trip at home. The sight of the two of them utterly spaced in the back of a NYC taxi was funny enough to start me laughing all over again.

But back at home, the trip took a more serious turn and Roger and Jane ended up having one of those deeply profound conversations you only seem to have when you’re really out of it. And with almost Zen-like calm on both their parts, they came to an amicable agreement that their relationship was over – a firm decision, unlike Peggy’s prevarication on the same issue earlier. It’s just a shame that Jane didn’t remember any of it on waking! Still, she took it well, and it looks like Roger’s footloose and fancy free again (not that he ever let marriage restrain him anyway). Perhaps he’ll finally get together with Joan – she’s the only woman in five seasons he’s ever had any real chemistry with, presumably intentionally.

As the newly Zen Roger arrived at work and suggested a trip to Howard Johnson’s with Don, we were into the final thread of the script (and back to the scene that the Roger narrative had started with – I didn’t realise until then that the LSD party had been a flashback to the night before). Don, who seems to have finally grown up with regards to women this year, eschewed Roger’s suggestion of a weekend of debauchery in favour of a trip with Megan. In hindsight, Roger’s suggestion might have been better.

For yet again, the tempestuous Draper marriage flared up into a dramatic fight. Megan, not too happy at being peremptorily dragged out of work for a trip to a glorified diner, used the ultimate weapon on Don – reminding him that he has no mother. As far as Don’s psyche goes, this is the nuclear option, and he stormed out in his car, leaving Megan in the parking lot.

Of course he calmed down and came back, but by then Megan was long gone, possibly with some reprobates she’d met in the parking lot. Cue a long night of worry for an increasingly frantic Don as he tried to locate her to no avail, even calling her mother; and along the way, making that flustered call to Peggy we’d seen earlier during her section of the episode.

Finally returning to New York, Don was none too happy to find Megan already at home – and with the chain on the door. So he did what any red-blooded alpha male would do – kicked the door in, chased her round the apartment and finally caught her up in a kiss she couldn’t help but respond to. Yep, he’s still got it.

But it’s still not clear how their relationship stands. The frustrated Megan had earlier said that, as far as she was concerned, it was over. That kiss seems to have changed her mind; well, Don is a very attractive man! Still, it’s looking increasingly like he needs her far more than she needs him, yet another indication of the growing change in the formerly dominant Don. Earlier, Roger had wondered if Jane, twenty years his junior, had cheated on him with a younger man. I wonder if, where Megan is concerned, this might become an inevitability – in keeping with the theme that Don isn’t the young man he was, and is becoming more and more conscious of it.

As if to remind him, the all-too-infrequently seen Bert Cooper was waiting to give him a good bollocking at work: “You’ve been on love leave. It’s amazing things are going as well as they with as little as you’ve been doing.” In earlier years, Don could party hard, have a major existential crisis, stare moodily through a haze of cigarette smoke and still turn up at work on top of his game. No longer, it seems…

This was a brilliant episode, I thought, with the usual high class soap opera of Mad Men taken up a dramatic notch by the clever use of the interweaved non-linear narratives. As a former film student, I’m a sucker for that kind of thing, especially when welded to drama this good.

As always, the performances were impeccable, with as much told by facial expression and body language as by dialogue. There was also some excellent direction that brought home the similarities of each main character’s dilemmas – particularly notable was the fact that Don and Megan ended up collapsed on the floor discussing their relationship in exactly the same position as Roger and Jane had been earlier. And of course, as a diehard Roger fan, how could I not love an episode with the great man tripping his nuts off with Timothy Leary? ‘Sterling’ stuff, up there with the classic Suitcase episode, and it’s going to be hard to top this one this year.

Mad Men: Season 5, Episodes 1 & 2–A Little Kiss

“Something always happens. Things are different.”

Mad Men (Season 5)

 

Rejoice, for finally Mad Men is back! After 17 months of alleged behind the scenes wrangling at AMC TV, thankfully everything was settled in terms of writers, producers, cast and budget (that latter at the expense of The Walking Dead, reportedly). The men and women of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce showed up for business on Sunday night in the US, and straight away we were immersed in the show’s trademark subtle vision of the 60s.

So subtle in fact that, as usual, I couldn’t immediately tell what year they’d moved on to this time. Mad Men is like that; it doesn’t do exposition. You have to work at it as a viewer, because none of the answers are spelled out in dialogue. This is never more true than in a season premiere, where the timescale between seasons can range from months to years, with the concomitant change in the characters’ circumstances. Part of the fun is working it out, and the show doesn’t give an inch. After all, why have a line of dialogue when meaning can be conveyed by Don Draper staring moodily into the middle distance through a haze of cigarette smoke?

Anyway, it’s 1966 (I eventually discovered), and I guess it’s about nine months after the end of the previous season. I know this because Joan has actually gone ahead and had the baby fathered by Roger after their illicit post-mugging liaison in an alley. As she was a couple of months pregnant last time, and her baby looks a couple of months old here, I think an intervening time of about 9 months is the right area.

Thankfully Don has moved on from the dark place in which he spent most of last season, when he lived in a tiny apartment and struggled with depression and alcoholism. Initially he seemed quite happy with new French-Canadian wife Megan, who seemed to have an inhuman level of tolerance with his grumpiness. Said grumpiness was brought on by her staging of a surprise birthday party for his fortieth in their swanky new pad, a surprise that was (typically) blown by Roger turning up with a bottle of champagne just as Don and Megan reached their door.

This season premiere was basically two episodes glued together, and the first concerned itself largely with the party. Don doesn’t like birthdays; he never celebrated them when he was Dick Whitman and he doesn’t want to now. Megan can’t grasp that, and Don ends up fidgeting uncomfortably through what looks like rather a good party.

As the centrepiece of the episode, the party was staged very well. All the major characters were there, together with a lot of young people who were presumably friends of Megan’s. Straight away, Don’s obvious discomfort pointed up what his problem was – he’s getting old. Or at least he feels he is, particularly when surrounded by modern, with-it people almost twenty years his junior, like his new wife. I think this is a theme we’re going to be returning to quite a bit this year.

Meanwhile, we got a flavour of the times as people at the party discussed current events, a good way of setting the scene. Vietnam is just getting into full swing, and already Bert Cooper and Peggy’s beatnik boyfriend Abe are discussing it as an unnecessary war run for profit which maims and kills young men (much to the discomfort of the young sailor standing next to them; “I thought there’d be women here,” he muttered).

Vietnam is presumably going to be a recurring theme this year. Joan’s abusive doctor husband is at Fort Dixie, presumably about to be transferred there. As a result, an unusually flustered Joan is being helped by her acid-tongued mother with caring for the baby. Their bitchy bickering is hugely entertaining, and hopefully we’ll see more of her.

Joan is actually stuck there with no certain knowledge she can go back to her job, as the limited women’s rights of the 60s didn’t include maternity leave. Indeed, the challenge for women’s rights was implicit throughout, catching up with the struggle Peggy’s had since the outset of the show. Don still expects his new young wife to be obedient and submissive, which she’s having none of. He’s plainly forgotten that attitude was instrumental in losing him his last wife (well, that and the constant infidelity and lying). And Joan’s mother is startled that Joan might defy her husband and return to work rather than care for her child full time. Peggy might have got in early, but by 1966 Women’s Lib was getting into full swing, and I imagine it’s a theme the show will return to frequently.

I suspect another driving theme of the times is going to be the Civil Rights movement. We were plunged into this straight away, as some foolish young execs from rival ad firm Y & R got into racial trouble by water bombing a protest march from their office window. This led to an amusing sniping war, as Roger took out a gloating ad for SCDP in the paper calling them an “equal opportunity” firm. The joke backfired towards the end of the episode, as it had been misinterpreted as a vacancy ad, and suddenly the all-white Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was besieged with eager black job applicants. “Why is the office full of Negroes?” enquired a flustered Roger.

Indeed, Roger’s racial attitude summed up the time period. When it was suggested they take one of the black girls on as a receptionist, he snapped, “we don’t want one of them out there!” The all-pervading racism of the 60s has been an ongoing subtle theme in the series, and it looks like this year it’s going to be pushed more to the front. It even hangs over little moments; why else would Lane, having discovered a lost wallet in a taxi, not trust the (black) driver to return it to its owner?

The wallet, in fact, led to another amusing subplot that may or may not be continued. Discovering a picture of a beautiful young lady in it, Lane called her to enquire about returning the wallet (which belonged to her boyfriend), and ended up flirting outrageously with her on the phone. It was a funny scene, well-played by Jared Harris. But it might spin out into something more serious. Plainly Lane’s marriage is not going that well; beneath their English reserve, you can tell that neither he nor his wife are happy. He was disappointed when it was the wallet’s owner who turned up at the office to collect it rather than the beautiful Dolores. But since the wallet’s owner had an Italian surname and was almost a stereotypical Mob hood, Lane may be getting himself into trouble if he goes after Dolores.

Elsewhere, the ever-uptight Pete is as unhappy as ever, and the script chose to emphasise that he has dandruff and is starting to go bald. I’m glad the dialogue spelled that one out, as actor Vincent Kartheiser seems to have a perfectly full head of hair. But he was as excellent as ever as the perpetually unsuccessful Pete, whose rivalry with Roger has been stepped up a notch for some more humorous scenes. Roger has taken to sneaking glances at his calendar to steal his leads; so Pete responds by setting up a fake meeting with a big client at 6am, which Roger gullibly goes off to.

Harry Crane is unhappy too, having expressed his lust for Don’s wife while the lady was actually standing right behind him. This led to one of the funniest scenes in the episode, as Harry was carpeted by Roger and immediately assumed he was being fired for the incident. But all Roger wanted to do was convince him to trade offices with Pete, whose tiny cupboard of an office had a big post in the middle of it that Pete managed to walk into hard enough to make his nose bleed. Pete had made a fuss about wanting a better office, but he was still furious; as Roger had correctly worked out, it was Roger’s office he really wanted.

All this, as usual, moved at a pretty leisurely pace. In terms of actual plot, not a great deal happened. But then, in Mad Men, plot has a way of creeping up on you incrementally. At the end of the day, even with a period setting, it’s basically a very classy soap opera, which depends on you being invested with the fates of its characters. This opening instalment set out its stall very well for the coming year in that regard. Interestingly, while watching I tried to imagine what it would be like if this was the first episode I’d seen, with no knowledge of the characters’ tortuous back stories. And I was surprised to decide that it was actually still just as accessible as a jumping in point. Only the business about Don’s former identity, knowledge of which he’s entrusted to his new wife, might have confused fresh viewers.

Again as usual, it looked great; it’s almost worth the frustration of The Walking Dead being stuck on a farm all year to justify the expense in bringing this to the screen. Don and Megan’s new apartment is the height of 60s chic (though its white carpet can’t stand up to an eventful birthday party). The clothes, too, are as well observed as ever. Don, Roger and the old guard remain as impeccably suited as ever, but the younger guys are wearing casual clothes in the office; and Pete turns up at Don’s party sporting a jacket that’s surely a crime against the eyes of humanity.

Pete's Jacket

So, the stage is set. We know where most of the characters are, and where they’re trying to go. No sign of Don’s cold ex-wife Betty yet, but I’m guessing she’ll show up next week. On the evidence of this opener, it was worth the 17 month wait to have the show back. Creator Matthew Weiner’s writing is as sharp, subtle and humorous as ever, and the top notch cast are still superb at the subtle acting style the show demands (though my absolute favourite is John Slattery as Roger, who’s often far from subtle). Over the next few months, I’m fully expecting Mad Men to be as compelling a drama as it always has been.