It surprises me to look back on my last post, my joyful boasting about my favorite new appliance and my wishful thinking of summer soon to come, and to find that among my list of most looked forward to items I did not list Mad Men. I have a shameful confession to make: I forgot!
I could pine away with mournful excuses, but instead I’ll simply say that I’m human. Perhaps like Don Draper, who is super humanly human. Fortunately it was all over Facebook and everything else, so I set it up to record along with everything else.
And wow, what to say. I’ve long enjoyed reading the A.V. Club’s write-ups of the shows I keep up with. Their write-up of the Mad Men opener is a bit broken up, as it apparently was based upon a preview reel and then expanded, but it offers some food for thought. Of course you don’t have to stop there. Write-ups and reviews of shows abound on the internet these days. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a TV blogger on some parts of the internet anymore.
There are, it seems, two interesting recurring themes this episode: the opening lines of Dante’s Inferno, which goes, “Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and awoke to find myself alone in a dark wood….” Despite my deep and abiding love of Italians (and especially Italian women), I’ve never read Dante, so I don’t have much insight except to wonder if quoting from Inferno is perhaps a little heavy handed. And if Mad Men started off in season one with a man (Don Draper) straying from life’s path midway… well then where the hell are we now? He strayed back onto the “right” path for some time, and then of course right back off of it… and we’re still only midway? Life is not like a commercial it seems: it’s fucking long, and we’re back where we started.
I like the point that I read (and I forget where) that certain characters have morphed into each other. Pete into Don. Peggy (also) into Don. Don into Roger. Roger into Burt. They even added in an obsequious new character (played by James Wolk), and I’m guessing he’s going to morph into Harry Crane… because, hey fuck it.
The other theme that kept coming up was Chopin. Particularly this piece. I’m not the biggest classical music nerd in the world, but I do enjoy some Chopin. (And if you are a non-initiate then I’d point you to the succinct and wonderful Pianist soundtrack for a nice sampling.)
So there are clearly some heavy meditations upon death… though I would suggest that really it’s much more about happiness. Success, status, beauty. They make us happy until they don’t. That really has been Matt Weiner’s milieu through this whole show, and goddamn is he good at it. The start to this season seems no different. The AV Club’s write-up kept suggesting that the show started by meditating and confronting its own past. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.
But I wonder of what’s to come. I love the last season, with it’s disjointed plots and themes… episodes that focused solely on single characters. We’ve got less than two seasons left to go, and I wonder where Matt Weiner and company are taking us. I don’t expect this season to play out like last season, but I sure hope it doesn’t echo too much of other seasons past.