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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mad Men: "Signal 30"

Poor Lane. Even when he wins the fight, he doesn't get the girl. And since he was sort of condescending to Joan, implying that his job was unimportant merely because Joan could do it herself, maybe he doesn't deserve her. Most of Signal 30 had to do with machismo, with men comparing themselves to others and finding themselves coming up short. There's Lane, pretending (quite well) to be as into football as the other men at the pub, and then trying to expand his role at SCDP by bringing in a big account. There's Roger, who seems to be resigned to his lower position in the ranks of the company that bears his name, and who seems to strike out at Ken Cosgrove's budding science-fiction career out of little more than authorial jealousy. And of course, when we talk about male insecurity, we have to talk about Pete Campbell. Smarmy, selfish, utterly unlikable. Pete Cambell is a hard character to root for, and other shows would be content to leave him flatly evil. But Matthew Weiner and the minds behind Mad Men have taken pains to show us the psychological scars and family dynamics that make Pete Campbell tick. All of which makes us in the audience feel much more justified when we still want to punch that ingrateful little piss-ant right in the nose. Signal 30 was largely centered around Pete. The title is taken from the name of the driving instruction films Pete is forced to watch. Pete feels trapped in his marriage and suburbia, just see the overly mannered way he conducts his conversation at the little party he throws for the Cosgroves and the Drapers. (I loved Cosgrove's exasperated responses to Pete's bragging about his stereo system. "Wilt Chamberlain could lie down in it." "Why would he do that?") For a while it looks like Pete is going to be seducing one of the high-schoolers in his driver's ed class, until Suburgatory's Ryan Shay shows up to win the young lady away. That and Don Draper proving himself a much better plumber, and apparently a much better husband, and it's enough to see why Pete was so eager to prove his manliness when Lane demanded satisfaction. Some other thoughts: -I thought the directing by John Slattery was just a little off, with too many quick cuts, dissolves and the like. Less is more. -I guess we're meant to assume that Pete ratted out Cosgrove (It's what Ken himself assumes, after all) but I'm guessing that someone else did the deed. I just hope it wasn't Peggy, that seems too far out of character for her. -Speaking of Peggy, I wonder what will come out of her pact with Cosgrove, whether or not she sold out Ben Hargrove. (Love that Ken's nom de plume only alters 4 letters in his name.) -Don's sport coat, purchased for him by Megan, was hilariously hideous. -Loved the little moment where Don has to correct Ken about the Austin sniper's last name, which is of course, the same as his real last name. -I honestly thought Pete was going to rough up that prostitute. (And great range that actress showed playing all the angles until she found what Pete needed.) -Everything you need to know about Pete Campbell you can learn by his scene in the taxicab with Don. Petulant, whiny, totally in denial of his own wrongdoing. -Even though Slattery must have been busy in the director's chair, Roger Sterling didn't exactly suffer in the quality lines department. Loved his line before the fight: "I know cooler heads should prevail, but am I the only one who really wants to see this?" Felt kind of like an audience stand-in at that point, where we all know this is kind of unlikely, but do you really want it to stop before Pete get's one right in the kisser? -No Betty, fat or otherwise. Yay!

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