AMC’s hit drama, Mad Men, is known for having episodes that tend to move at a snail’s pace, but Sunday night’s season 7 premiere moves so slowly it provokes droopy eyelids and loud, obnoxious snores from anyone attempting to catch up with Don Draper and company. The opening monologue of the episode features Freddy Rumsen, who most serious fans of the show will remember as the lovable loaf who wet his pants in front of a client and got fired, appearing to “break the fourth wall” and chat with the audience. This scene was several minutes in length. Several minutes of just listening to Rumsen deliver a pitch for a company called Accutron. He drones on and on for what feels like an eternity, meanwhile viewers begin to nervously twirl their hair wondering if the opening has any significance to the actual plot of the episode. It does, but that will be discussed a bit later on.
Once the pitch is delivered, the audience finds out that Rumsen is actually giving his pitch to Peggy, who seems impressed at the quality of the campaign coming from a man who practically showered himself with booze on a daily basis. From there, everyone catches a glimpse of what was formerly Sterling Cooper Draper Price, now Sterling Cooper & Partners, after giving leading man Don Draper the boot at the end of Mad Men season 6. While Draper was not “officially” fired, he was told to take a leave of absence after spilling the beans about being raised in a brothel and telling the big wigs at Hershey they had no need for an advertising campaign.
Things at the company seem to be going well. Viewers are greeted by the sight of new employees, which seems to indicate business is booming, and the company is growing, despite Draper not being in the in picture. It seems people can survive without him after all. As the show progresses, ever so slowly, fans get to see a quick snapshot of what each of the main characters has been up to since the season finale last year.
Mad Men favorite, Roger Sterling, seems to be going through some type of midlife crisis, struggling to find himself by experimenting with hippies, free love, and probably an array of mind-altering substances yet to be revealed. The few humorous moments of the Mad Men premiere, which help break up the fits of snoring and are a valiant attempt to pry open droopy eyelids, occur when Sterling is seen with his new hippie commune of lovers, that he apparently shares his bed with. The first time he is seen in the episode, he is naked, covering his naughty parts with a telephone, surrounded by naked people strewn about as carelessly as clothes tossed on the bedroom floor. Later, Sterling has a usual conversation, where apparently his daughter is getting involved in some type of soul-searching, the same as her father, but she appears to be taking a more traditional, possibly even religious path toward self-discovery, instead of the one of reckless abandon that her pops seems to be heading down. Will his daughter’s journey inspire him to start searching for fulfillment and satisfaction in religion? Anything is possible.
When the episode gets around to Don Draper, it is apparent that he is juggling going back and forth between Los Angeles and New York, so that he can continue to “work” and still be supportive of his wife, Megan, who moved to the west coast to further her acting career. There seems to be some distance between the two, so perhaps being bi-coastal and having a semi-long distance relationship is not really working out that well. It also does not seem that the Mad Men “Stallion of Secrets” has told his spouse about his current work situation. Draper declines a ride to the office, saying he will take a cab, but ends up meeting Pete Campbell in a local diner instead.
Speaking of Pete Campbell, he seems to be thoroughly enjoying his new life in California, still working for the company, and apparently doing a pretty good job. He actually appears happy, satisfied, and unusually bubbly. Campbell is having some type of fling with his real estate agent, and it looks like Draper might be joining the fun later on, as she seemed smitten, as most women do, by Don’s charms after being introduced to him by Pete.
What would an episode of Mad Men be without a little philandering from Don “Juan” Draper. While catching a ride on a jet plane back to New York, a pretty brunette played by Neve Campbell, gets cozy with the Master of Madison Avenue, telling stories of dead husbands and offering to pleasure Don after the plane lands. Uncharacteristically, Draper opens up and admits he is a horrible husband, despite thinking he could pull off being a monogamous, one woman type of guy. Draper actually says no to free sex, not something he is typically known to do, saying he needs to get back to work. Apparently, “work” is now his New York apartment.
This is where the story gets really interesting, which happened to be the last 10 minutes or so of the episode. As Draper settles into his apartment, Freddy Rumsen enters the scene bringing a meal to share with his new best pal. The reason for this meeting, is apparently, Don, on his leave of absence has been creating ad campaigns for various agencies, including his own, using Rumsen as a cover. Rumsen has been submitting the work as a freelancer, while Draper is Oz behind the curtain.
While much more could be said for Joan and the other character stories in the opener, they are far to tedious to delve into. Anyone wishing to know more should check out the episode. Fans can only hope that the pace for the rest of Mad Men season 7 is a bit quicker, so that loud snores can be avoided and droopy eyelids need not be propped up with toothpicks during future episodes.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell
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