Welcome to Tube Talk’s coverage of the final season of the much beloved and talked about AMC original drama, Mad Men. Its the beginning of the end with the premiere of “Time Zones” so let’s get our bags ready and fly off into 1969.
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Mad Men: Season 7: Episode 1: Time Zones: GRADE: A-
Mad Men was the original show that has put AMC on the map for quality original television programming on par with HBO, Showtime, and FX. The show is set at an advertising agency in the 1960s and follows the professional and (very) personal lives of all that inhabit it from their hands either holding a smoke or drink, to their affairs, and just how life was back then by incorporating major historical events into storylines and having them not feel forced or there for the sake of namedropping history. It works to the shows strengths and helps to highlight the characters as well.
Mad Men debuted back on July 19, 2007 and it got noticed quick! Now for the sake of moving this review along to get to the actual episode itself, my thoughts on the recent seasons via grades!
- Season One: A
- Season Two: A-
- Season Three: B+
- Season Four: A
- Season Five: A+
- Season Six: B+
So yeah to say I love this series myself is an understatement. So how does the swan song season of this memorable show starts? Out on the east coast with Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) of course pitching to Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) his idea to advertise Accutron. She loves it and tries to secretly feed it to new boss Lou Avery. None them knowing Freddy is being fed copy via Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who we’re about to get to. Ken Gosgrove (Aaron Staton still rocking the eyepatch) sends in Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks to deal with Wayne Barnes (Cougar Town’s Dan Byrd), the new head of marketing for client, Butler Footwear. Roger Sterling (John Slattery) meanwhile explores counterculture while trying to reconnect with his daughter Margaret (Elizabeth Rice)
Over on the west coast, Don flies over to see his wife Megan (Jessica Paré), trying to salvage their marriage. While there he meets and catches up with co-worker, and the maybe the only other character disliked as much as King Joffery, Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser).
What I love about this premiere is that reestablishes that this really isn’t a show starring Don Draper, but that its Peggy Olson’s show as well. The better part of the episode for me was how Peggy handled things back in New York and ran things. Her head-butting with Lou over Freddy/Don’s idea was compelling but for me its all in how well defined Elisabeth Moss has made the role over these past seven years. Little thing such as her interaction with former lover and co-worker Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) as he gets back from California from himself. The awkwardness and looks on her face speaks volumes. Same for when she tries to apologize to Lou.
I admit the west coast side of things was good, but a little lesser. I was far more interested in what was happening back in New York but the scene where Don and Megan meet up with her agent there is fun as you can just sense when Don says he’s completely at ease, he’s lying out his ass. He hates it there but really wants to be back among the action of New York and in the office. He’s committed to making this marriage work.
Roger’s bits with his daughter is good as well, heads up, Roger Sterling is my absolute favorite character of this show, and it was purely fascinating to see him doing counterculture stuff here. We open with him laid out among a room of women and a couple men as he answers his daughter’s phone call. After the meeting, we see clearly its hippies and I’m interested in where this goes. Speaking of the meeting with his daughter, she finds it in herself to forgive Roger of all the past wrongdoings towards her as part of a newfound enlightenment. That was a twist as its well documented Roger isn’t the best father and Margaret would want him out her life completely. I expected the next time to see her in the same room as him would be his funeral.
Joan’s storyline is another that’s okay, but it has an impact, with Don still on sabbatical from the office, some accounts aren’t doing too well, again hence the work with Freddy, but manages to keep Butler Footwear on as a client after getting the aid of a university professor on marketing. She’s very reluctant as it really is Ken’s client but he’s got other problems to deal with. The scene at the bar is good and let’s her have a nice back and forth with Wayne.
As for the rest, what else can I say? The use of the period’s music is great and the ascetic, look, and feel are incredible. Great direction and cinematography to are a main reason this show has survived this long. Acting is again on display as being outstanding. The show is back and I’m happy and looking forward to what the endgame is for Sterling Cooper & Partners.