Mad Men: “Love Among the Ruins”

This episode begins with a clip of Ann-Margret singing “Bye Bye Birdie” from the film of the same name. The lights come up, and we’re in a conference room at Sterling Cooper. Ken says that Pepsi wants to copy this scene, frame-by-frame, for a new ad for Patio, the company’s new diet drink. Sal says that Pete must be breaking out in a sweat. Harry says that he will definitely sit in on the casting for this commercial. Peggy is taken aback, thinking that perhaps they out to rethink the campaign. After all, as Peggy rightfully states, the campaign should be aimed at the women who will buy the drink. After Ken shoots down Peggy’s arguments, she says that “clients don’t always know what’s best”.

mad_men_s03_e02_01

At the Draper house, confusion reigns as Betty discovers an empty box of Melba toast in the pantry. Don tells her to eat some oatmeal, as the “baby might end up weighing a pound”. Don looks at some pictures a designer has left, then berates her for choosing too many as the pictures cost $3 each. Betty says that she can’t judge by pictures. Betty suggest that the family visit some antique stores in Tarrytown. The kids complain that the stores stink. Don tells them that they’re going, and that they’ll stare at antiques for so long that the buttons will seem interesting… but he then offers them an olive branch by way of a trip to the Carvel on the way home.

At Sterling Cooper, Pete meets with some people from the mayor’s office about Penn Station. Pete gives credit for the campaign to Paul, who immediately puts the mayor’s folks on edge by going through some of the anti-demolition ads and editorials from the local press. They think he’s going to address the public relations aspect of it, but when they ask him how to “deal with the crazies”, Paul launches in to a tirade in defense of the current station. Pete tries to calm the situation by saying that Paul’s just looking for an angle. He then compares Paul to the “snide ad men you see in the movies”. The mayor’s representative says that he already has a mailbox full of death threats and he doesn’t need any new ones from “beatniks like him”. The angry men then get up a leave. Pete tells Paul that he has to tell Don about this; Paul begs him not to.

“You have no problems with an atom plant on the East River, but this bothers you?” – Pete, to Paul after the meeting.

We next see Lane calling Roger, Bert, and Don in for a meeting. He tells the men that they’ve just lost the Campbell’s Soup Great Britain account. Bert, in a total deadpan, says “I don’t want to have to walk down here every time we lose an account. This is an advertising agency, I’ll wear out the carpet”. He then turns and walks right out the door. Lane continues with Roger and Don and says that it’s not that they lost Campbell’s Soup Great Britain to BBDO, it’s that they didn’t gain any of Campbell’s other accounts in the first place. Roger quips that perhaps he should bring Bert Peterson back so he can fire him again. Lane asks Don about it, who says that he only attends meetings, not set them up. And exasperated Lane then says that if this was the wau they wanted to run things, then everyone’s done their job perfectly. A distracted Roger then asks Lane if he ever gets drunk and tries to get in the suit of armor in the corner of his office. Before Lane can say anything back to Roger his intercom buzzes, and John announces the arrival of Mrs. Pryce. Lane tells the men not to worry… as long as new business is coming in.

Outside Don’s office, we see Joan and Don’s secretary fawning over Betty and performing an old wives’ trick:  letting a necklace swing above the womb. If it goes back and forth it’s a boy, if it goes in a circle it’s a girl. Don and Roger walk up, and Don escorts Betty on their way out to dinner with the Pryces. Betty warns that she’s in a bad mood. Roger and Joan share an awkward look with each other.

Dinner is awkward and uncomfortable. Rebecca Pryce is condescending and standoffish. There are long pauses in the conversation, especially after Rebecca asks how long Don and Betty have been together: Don says 10 years and Betty says 9. Betty asks her if she misses London, to which she says that “yes, but what we lost in London, we gained in insects”. Lane then tries to talk shop, but the main courses arrive just in time.

In the car on the way home, Don assures Betty that he didn’t want to go to dinner with the Pryces either. Sensing that her foul mood might involve more than just a bad dinner, he asks her what’s wrong. She replies that she hasn’t been able to get her father on the telephone for several days. She says that she called William (her brother) and he said that Gloria has left him. Don isn’t surprised, but Betty is genuinely worried, and says that she can’t take a car trip at this point. She says that she thinks that William and Judy should bring him up this weekend. “Great”, Don says.

The next morning, Roger’s family shows up to discuss his daughter Margaret’s upcoming wedding. Both Mona and Margaret make it clear that they don’t want Jane at the wedding. Mona says that she’s come up with a compromise: Roger and Jane can host their own table, while she sits with the groom’s family. “So you get the in-laws and I get Siberia?” asks Roger. It’s clear that Roger won’t come without Jane. Margaret then tells Roger that she’s decided on invitations with silver ink and bells. Roger notes the date and says that he’ll make sure to tell Jane.

mad_men_s03_e02_02

Lane walks in to Don’s office and says that Betty was “charming” at dinner and that she really lifted Rebecca’s spirits. He then asks Don to take Edgar Raffit (of the Madison Square Garden account) out to lunch to try and repair the damage done by Pete and Paul. Don indicates that he will go, but says that Roger is the real “lion tamer”. Lane says that Roger is going too. Don then asks who these people are and what, exactly they want. Lane says the they want a Cyrano De Bergerac, something to make New York fall in love with them.

At the Draper residence, Gene arrives with William, his wife and their many kids. Betty has whipped by a lunch of cold roasted chicken or cold cuts, but Gene says that they stopped by Pat’s Steaks for cheesesteaks. He even says that his got a chicken parmesan sandwich fo Gloria, which causes William to say that perhaps they can mail it to her. He also says that Gene completely understands what’s going on, but is “playing up” his senility.

We then see Don waiting for Roger and Edgar at a restaurant. Roger complains that Mona is turning his daughter against him. “All I want to do is win”, he says. Edgar appears and says that he can’t stay. Roger talks him into sitting down, where Don says that Edgar’s concern over public opinion betrays a guilty conscience. He further says that the agency could help “change the discussion” from one of saving the past (Penn Station) to building a new future (Madison Square Garden). Edgar seems swayed by Don’s arguments, but says that he doesn’t want Paul (“that Communist, that radical”) working on the account. Don says that he’ll handle it personally.

Back at the Draper home, Betty has a serious talk with William and Judy. Judy insists that Gene is clear headed, but is simply hurt and angry that Gloria left him. William says that he’s “in and out” and proposes that he be placed in a nursing home in New Brunswick, halfway between them. Betty strongly objects, partly on the grounds that such places are “for people who don’t have families”, but also because she thinks that William wants Gene’s house.

Later that night, Don comes home and makes Gene laugh with an old Army joke. He goes upstairs, where Betty scolds him for bringing his “soot covered” coat upstairs. Don asks how things are with Gene, and she launches into William and his “neverending bullshit”. Don asks her what she wants to do. Betty doesn’t answer, instead asking Don how he can ask her that while she’s in “her condition”. At about the same time, we see William and Judy in bunk beds. William says that Betty and Gene fought constantly, and Betty seems to forget that. Judy counters that Betty thinks family is important.

While all this is going on, we see Peggy alone in her apartment. She’s in a nightgown, and she suddenly starts reenacting Ann-Margret’s song from Bye Bye Birdie in front of the mirror.

The next morning, Don is holding a meeting with Pete, Harry and Paul about Madison Square Garden (he amusingly tells Paul to “keep a low profile on this one”). The meeting is interrupted when Lane walks in and asks for a minute alone with Don. He then tells him to drop the Madison Square Garden account, that the home office in London thinks that they won’t make any money off the deal. Don says that Madison Square Garden is Sterling Coopers “in” to New York’s 1964 World’s Fair, and that the Madison Square Garden account could bring the agency business for the next 30 years for sporting events and concerts. Lane says that “they’re not interested”. Don berates Lane, saying that he had told him to go out and get the account, and Don did just that, but now, a day later, it’s off because he (Lane) forgot to check with his bosses first? Don asks who is running the agency, then asks why they bought Sterling Cooper. To both questions, Lane simply says “I don’t know”.

Don escorts Lane out the door, only to see Peggy waiting for him. With her impeccably bad timing, she asks if he has a second: she wants to talk about the Patio campaign. Don seems to have no idea what the ads are about, so Peggy tells him it’s ripped off from Bye Bye Birdie. Don says that he hasn’t seen it. This surprises Peggy: “you see everything”. So she sets up the projector and shows him the clip in the conference room.

“Yes, everyone wants a drink that sounds like a floor.” – Don, to no one in particular

She thinks that the “fantasy” they’re selling should be a female one, not a male one.  Don disagrees, saying that men want Ann-Margret and women want to be her. Peggy says that this is phony. Don says that Peggy isn’t an artist, that she simply solves problems. He then tell her, cryptically, to “leave some tools in your toolbox”.

In the elevator on the way home that night, Roger asks Peggy what “her father would have to do for her to not want him at her wedding”. Peggy said that her Dad passed away. “There you go – you’d do anything”, he says.

mad_men_s03_e02_03

We then see Peggy walking out of a subway station and walking past a bar. We get the feeling that she’d normally just walk right home, but she stares in the window and decides to go in. After looking at people awkwardly, she finally steps up to the bar and starts a conversation with a young man.

Back at the Draper home, Don walks in to see Gene playing cards, William struggling with a clog in the sink, Judy setting the table, and a room full of kids watching TV. He meets Betty on the stairs, who says that she’s going out for a bucket of chicken. She’s obviously upset, and Don asks what’s wrong. Betty says that she’s obviously a “horrible daughter”. Don disagrees. Betty says that William has given her an ultimatum: either Gene gets put in a home, or they move in to his Gene’s house. “William says?”, Don snarls. Don calls for William and says that he will go out and get the chicken in a minute.

Don takes William aside and lays it out to him: he (William) will support his father financially. Gene will live with the Drapers. Gene’s house will remain unoccupied during this time. This is not up for debate or discussion. This is how it will be. William initially thanks him for the “advice”, but Don makes it clear that William’s input is neither necessary or desired. Don tells him that he will go out there and act as if it were William’s decision, and that they two of them will pretend that he did the right thing. William stamps his foot. Don doesn’t care. He tells William that they wil be leaving tonight, and that they will leave Gene’s Lincoln there too. William asks how they will get home; Don tells him to take the train. William tells Judy and Betty of “his” plan, and Gene says that “animals are running the zoo”.

Back at the bar, Peggy has picked up an engineering student from Brooklyn College. He’s eating a burger and has atrocious manners, and even mentions that his mother says that he’s still growing. The kid says that he started pre-law but switched over to engineering: “If we’re all gonna be replaced by machines, I might as well the guy that makes them”. Peggy says that she works for an ad agency, and teh kid thinks that she’s just a secretary. His friends then come up and talk about “cab fare” (as a way to give the guy an “out” with Peggy). The guy chooses to stay, and we soon see them at his home, making out passionately on the sofa. Peggy asks if he has a “Trojan”; when he says that he doesn’t, the passion starts to wane… until she says that there are “other things we could do”. Peggy leaves later, and the guy is obviously interested in her… but Peggy simply says “this was fun” and leaves.

Meanwhile, the sounds of sirens fill the air in Ossining, New York. Don and Betty aren’t bothered by them, but Betty thinks she hears someone downstairs. Don and Betty go downstairs to see what’s going on and find Gene in the kitchen pouring booze down the at the sink. He apparently thinks he’s back in the Prohibition days and the sirens made him think that the cops were coming for him.

We next see the Drapers at a Mayday dance at Sally’s school. During the dance, Don stares at the teacher, and starts feeling the grass. It’s clear that he’s not staring at her out of lust… in fact, I think he had an epiphany about “female fantasies” and might now think that Peggy was right. After the dance, the new Draper family (now with Gene) poses for a picture.

We then see Don back at Sterling Cooper. He’s walking in, and as he does so he walks by Peggy’s office. He takes a moment to stare at her while she works. Don’s secretary takes his coat and briefcase, and Peggy walks up and asks if he wants to take alook at what she has for the Pampers account. “What ya got? he asks. The two go into his office and start looking over the files.

NOTES

Bye Bye Birdie was, of course, a real film. Released in 1963, the film is loosely inspired by the real-life story of Elvis Presley being drafted into the army back in 1957. Birdie was also Dick Van Dyke’s first feature film. The name of the main character, teen idol Conrad Birdie, was based on another popular singer of the time, country singer Conway Twitty.

– Peggy says “let’s assume we can get a girl who can match Ann-Margret’s ability to be 25 and act 14”. This was a real criticism of the film at time, and it also proves that twentysomethings have been playing teenagers long before the original Beverly Hills 90210 series.

– Believe it or not, Patio was real drink.Diet Rite was the first diet soft drink, introduced in 1958. However it was considered a “specialty product” that was normally only purchased after a doctor’s recommendation. However, in 1962 Diet Rite began advertising to the masses that its cola was something healthful for anyone. Sales took off, and Pepsi rushed out Patio in 1963 to compete with Diet Rite. Pepsi felt as though they didn’t have the money to properly market the drink as its own brand, so they renamed it “Diet Pepsi” in 1964 so that it could coast on the coattails of its “big brother”, a first for the soft drink industry.

– Possible goof: Peggy refers to the proposed Patio commercial as a “knock off”, a slang term for an “imitation” or “copy” that, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, didn’t appear in print until 1966. Of course, slang terms are generally spoken before they’re written, so it could have been in use in 1963.

Tarrytown, New York is the village in which Washington Irving set his famous book The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Confusingly, there is a nearby village which was originally called “North Tarrytown”, but which changed it’s name to “Sleepy Hollow” in 1997 in honor of the book. However, it has no connection to the “Sleepy Hollow” of the Irving tale. Tarrytown is also the setting (or partial setting) for the books Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin, The Virgin Heiress by Ellery Queen, The Titan by Theodore Dreiser, and Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume. Tarrytown was also home to comedian Kevin Meaney and humorist Joe Queenan.

Carvel is chain of ice cream stores, mostly located in the northeastern United States (although the company’s famous ice cream cakes are starting to appear in the frozen food aisles of grocery stores nationwide). Founder Tom Carvel originally sold frozen custard from a truck. Serendipitously, the truck got a flat tire in the parking lot of a pottery store in Hartsdale, New York in 1934; Carvel continued to sell his custard in the parking lot, and credits the flat with giving him the idea of opening a fixed-location store. By the 1940s, Carvel had invented his own special “custard freezer” that he sold to prospective business owners. He found that many purchasers weren’t using them properly, were located in poorly chosen locations, and\or did not always maintain proper health standards. This caused Carvel to write a thick, highly detailed manual about properly running a custard stand… which, by 1949, had morphed into America’s first franchise operation.

– During meeting with the people from the mayor’s office about Penn Station, Pete mentions that he sent them some materials from Sterling Cooper’s campaign to “ease the way for the Ravenswood Nuclear Power Facility”. This was a proposed nuclear power plant that Consolidated Edison (ConEd) wanted to build in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Queens. There was much opposition to the plant (given its proximity to 5 million+ people) and, as a result, it was never built. In its stead, a steam turbine plan nicknamed Big Allis was built; the plant is still operational today, and provides 16% of New York City’s current energy needs. When it was built, it was the largest single power station in the world. Interestingly, the site was originally home to Blackwell Mansion, a private home built by Jacob Blackwell in 1744. When the home was demolished in 1901, one of its doors was saved – a door which still bore the “arrow of confiscation” mark carved into it by British soldiers when Queens was occupied during the Revolutionary War in 1776.

– During the same meeting, one of the people from the mayor’s office says that “Ada Louise Huxtable is as green as that folder”. Born in New York on March 14, 1921, she is “an architecture critic and writer on architecture”. She was “the first architecture critic at The New York Times, a post she held from 1963-82.” Her article “Farewell to Penn Station” (written after the war to save the station had been lost), was an iconic piece, and is even today often quoted when someone wants to save a building somewhere. Here’s a brief quote from the article: “Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn’t afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”

– Paul says “[he] doesn’t think it’s crazy to be attached to a Beaux-Arts masterpiece”. Beaux-Arts was a style of neoclassical architecture taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It was incredibly popular in the United States from 1880-1920. Although Beaux-Arts buildings looked old-fashioned, most were built with an internal steel structure and other then-modern engineering techniques (especially in San Francisco, where the style was popular after the rebuilding of the devastating 1906 earthquake. New York’s Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library are perhaps the best known examples of the Beaux-Arts style.

– While escorting Betty to Don’s office, Joan says that Greg is on her case about having a baby, especially after July 1 when he’s scheduled to become chief resident. Correct he if I’m wrong, but I believe we know that Greg is a thoracic surgeon (“The Mountain King”), but we don’t know where. In the same episode, Joan says that Greg also “stitches up Negro children” at Harlem Hospital Center. But that’s a volunteer thing he does, right? We don’t know the hospital where Greg will be named chief resident, right?

– Headquartered in New York, BBDO was created in 1929 by the merger of Batten Co. with Barton, Durstine & Osborn. With 17,200 employees worldwide in 287 offices in 77 countries, it’s one of the most successful and highly regarded ad agencies in the world. The agency has been frequently mentioned in pop culture, as far back as the 1933 film Hard to Handle, a Jack Benny radio program in 1948 (ironically, they were the real ad agency for Lucky Strike, one of Benny’s sponsors),a 1963 Alan Sherman song, and two fairly recent films – 1999’s The Truman Show (where Jim Carrey works for their parent company) and 2000’s What Women Want (where Mel Gibson works for “BBD&O”). BBDO has been mentioned several times on Mad Men, most notably season 1’s “”Red in the Face””

– Despite being strongly condemned in the Bible by Deuteronomy 18:10-11 (“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.), divining the gender of a baby is an ancient practice that is still practiced by superstitious types today.

– “Oh look… Princess Grace just swallowed a basketball.”

– The Pryces have a furnished apartment on Sutton Place… “near the UN, so they’re plenty of Africans”.

Sutton Place has been mentioned in numerous books (Catcher in the Rye) and movies (Taxi Driver, Wall Street, How to Marry a Millionaire).

James Walter Thompson (1847-1928) is the namesake and founder of the JWT advertising agency. Thompson was the first person to grasp that he could sell more advertising if he had a staff of artists that could actually create the ads for the clients; Thompson’s firm was thus the first to have what would be called a “Creative Department” today. The “Venezuela office” that Lane mentions during dinner was indeed opened by JWT employee W. Lee Preschel in 1964.

– Mona’s wedding date is Bruce Pike.

– Margaret and Brooks’ wedding date is November 23, 1963 – the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. Wanna place bets as to whether it gets postponed?

– It appears that either the Sterlings or the Hargroves (or both) are Episcopalians. The church Margaret and Brooks are getting married in appears to be St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York. The church’s website gives their address as 325 Park Avenue, but both Fodor’s and the church’s website indicate that the entrance is at 109 E. 50th St., which appears to match the cut-off address shown onscreen (I could find no other “St. Bartholomew’s” in the New York\New Jersey\Connecticut area with three digit address that begins with a 1).

Hector Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac (1619–1655) was a French author and duellist. de Bergerac can probably be considered the creator of modern science fiction, thanks to his two most popular works, The Other World: The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon (1657) and The Comical History of the States and the Empires of the Sun (unfinished), which (as their titles suggest) discuss space travel. de Bergerac also appeared as a fictional character in several works, most notably the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. In the play, de Bergerac falls in love with Roxane, but she falls in love with a more conventionally attractive man who has passed de Bergerac’s beautiful poems and letters to her as his own. The play becomes very complicated after that… but suffice it to say, ugly de Bergerac (like Madison Square Garden) needs beautiful words (Sterling Cooper) to sell the project to New Yorkers.

Pat’s Steaks was founded in Philadelphia in 1930 by Pat and Harry Olivieri. According to legend, one day in 1933 the brothers wanted something different for lunch and so Pat sent Harry to the butcher for some inexpensive cuts of meat. The two then grilled it up with some onion. A regular customer asked what the smell was, and they sold him a “steak sandwich” for 10¢… and thus the Philly Cheesesteak was born!

– Possible Anachronism: many folks on the Internet aren’t sure if the WASPy Hoffstadt family would go to South Philly to get cheesesteaks from Pat’s. These folks seem to equate it with a white Southerner going to the black part of town to buy fried chicken in 1963. I’m sure it wasn’t exactly like that, but it is possible that the wealthy Hoffstadt family would have looked down their noses at the whole South Philly area.

Warfarin (sold under the brand names Coumadin, Jantoven, Marevan, and Waran) is an anticoagulant used to treat blood clots and heart conditions relating to clogged arteries. Originally sold as a pesticide against rats and mice, it was approved as a drug in 1954 after an incident where an army draftee attempted to commit suicide by ingesting the pesticide only to recover fully. One of the most famous early Coumadin patients was President Dwight Eisenhower, who had a heart attack in 1955.

– At lunch with Don and Edgar, Roger orders a Gibson, which is a martini with a pickled onion. The drink was named after Charles Dana Gibson, the artist behind the “Gibson Girl”, arguably America’s first standard of beauty. The Gibson Girl was also one of the first mass-marketed media images in America, and her likeness appeared on “ashtrays, tablecloths, pillow covers, chair covers, souvenir spoons, screens, fans, [and] umbrella stands”. Like so many “food legends”, the details about the birth of the Gibson cocktail are sketchy and many “alternate stories” about its origin exist.

– At lunch, Roger says that Paul took a “Yetta Wallenda-sized misstep”. This is a reference to Rietta Wallenda, a member of the famous Flying Wallendas tightrope walking family. She died from a fall in Omaha, Nebraska on April 18, 1963. Roger says that it happened “last week”, so we can conclude that this episode takes place sometime during the week of April 22 – April 26, 1963.

– Don’s “change the conversation” talk with Edgar was brilliant.

The Parker Home is a real retirement home in New Brunswick, New Jersey, although their website lists their address as 1421 River Road, Piscataway, NJ.

– Is it just me, or did the static on the TV when Don comes home look awfully CGI-like?

– “You’re an army man, Gene… drop your socks and… grab something.”

– As painful I think the song “Bye Bye Birdie” is, I liked Peggy singing it to herself in front of the mirror. She feels uncomfortable around men, and we earlier saw her look at Joan with envy as she effortlessly talked with a group of Sterling Cooper clients. As much as Peggy dislikes Joan for being a “typical 1963 woman”, she admires her sexuality and for the way it leads her to get along with the men in the workplace.

– The 1964 World’s Fair was New York City’s third. It has an interesting story that’s worth the read here.

– Was Don thinking about Betty (who he nicknamed “Birdie”, remember?) when he talks about Ann-Margret “throwing herself at the camera”?

Dexedrine “was first synthesized under the chemical name ‘phenylisopropylamine’ in Berlin, 1887”. It wasn’t common until 1932, when Smith, Kline & French (now known as GlaxoSmithKline) sold it an “inhaler for use as a bronchodilator”. By 1935, it’s potential as a stimulant became known, and the drug was used to treat narcolepsy, attention disorders, depression, and obesity in the United States. Its widespread abuse led Congress to control it via the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The drug is still used by the US Air Force to keep its pilots alert on long flights.

– There is much discussion about what Don’s “leave a few tools in your toolbox” line actually means. Was Don simply dismissing Peggy out of hand? Or did he realize that she had the right idea, but that 1963 was the wrong time for it? At the time, most mass media ad campaigns were targeted at one audience, and it wasn’t until late in the 60s and early 70s that advertisers began having separate campaigns for blacks, women, etc. Of course, Don could just be being a jerk to Peggy too.

– Is this the first we’ve heard that Peggy’s dad has passed away? I could swear this this the first we’ve heard about it, but it possible that I missed a line or two in Season 2 where this was addressed.

– Anyone else get the feeling that Don’s sense of order was being challenged when he walked in and saw Gene, William, Judy and their kids?

– The scene with Don and William? Badass!

– Certified Goof: when William asks Don how he’s going to get home without a car, Don tells him to take “New York Central’s Broadway Limited” from Penn Station. In reality, the Broadway Limited line was run by the Pennsylvania Railroad, not New York Central. The Broadway Limited line ended up outlasting Pennsylvania Railroad itself, being operated by Amtrak until 1995.

– A stinger is a cocktail made with brandy and white crème de menthe. It was a popular “nightcap” drink in New York during the 1950s and 1960s. The drink is mentioned several times in the 1957 film Kiss Them For Me (starring Cary Grant and Jayne Mansfield) and the 1960 Jack Lemmon film The Apartment.

– When Peggy tells the kid that she works for an ad agency, he says that he “doesn’t know how you girls do all that typing”. Thus, he thinks she’s a secretary. Rather than correct him, Peggy simply says that she “works for a jerk” to pass herself off as “young” to the kid.

– The bit where the guy’s friends come up and talk about cab fare? Cruel!

– Peggy asked the kid for a “Trojan”. Is that product placement? I thought that Trojan was a fairly new brand name, but its apparently been around since the 1920s. Still, as one who grew up with Trojan being the brand of condoms, I’d probably ask a girl for a “rubber” or “condom” before I’d ask for a Trojan. Also, whatever happened to Peggy’s birth control pills? I guess she didn’t go back on them after she had the baby?

– Does Gene’s fear of the cops during his “Prohibition flashback” hint at a darker source for the Hofstadt family’s wealth? Is it possible that Gene was a bootlegger in those days?

– The maypole dance is not only to celebrate May Day, but also to celebrate Ossining, New York’s sesquicentennial (150th anniversary). To save you the math, I’ll tell you that the town was founded in 1813.

MY THOUGHTS

Like a few episodes of Mad Men, I wasn’t especially thrilled with this episode the first time I watched it, but I came to love and appreciate it duing my second viewing. I guess I’m having trouble shifting gears into the slow pace of Mad Men, which is odd, because the show’s glacial pace is one of the things I like most about it.

I’m not sure I follow the “Love Among the Ruins” title, though. I understand the “ruins” of Roger’s marriage (complimented by actual Greek ruins in his office!). But I’m not sure where the rest of the ruins are. As far as we know, Peggy’s never really had a love life. We didn’t see a lot of Joan in this episode, and Don was mostly a good (if stuff) husband to Betty this go ’round. Of course, Gene’s marriage is in “ruins”, and although he’s a minor character that could have a huge impact on the Draper household, I’m just not buying that his life is in “ruins”. He doesn’t seem coherent enough to even know that Gloria’s left him… unless her departure is the “final ruin” of Gene. Then it would make sense… and then “ruin” would be an understatement.

I also don’t know what’s up with Roger. He was always a funny guy, but it seems like he’s 99% comic relief this season. Don’s “what did you have to do today? What do you have to do this week?” comment pretty much summarizes everything I feel about Roger so far this season. And by the way… where is Jane, anyway?

“I don’t want to have to walk down here every time we lose an account. This is an advertising agency, I’ll wear out the carpet.” This is one of the funniest lines in Mad Men history. OK, it isn’t especially funny by itself, by within the context and with Robert Morse’s delivery… perfect!

As I said in the “Notes” section, Don telling William what to do was badass!

I also loved the maypole scene. At first, you think Don’s just being skeezy again… staring at Sallys’ hot young teacher… but then you realize that he’s having an epiphany. That’s brutally awesome television! Once again, Jon Hamm proves that he’s one of the very best actors on TV today.

2 Replies to “Mad Men: “Love Among the Ruins””

  1. Bill Hofstadt’s family would have returned to the Lower Merion environs on one of the Pennsylvania Railroad trains that left Penn Station approximately every half hour in the evening and arrived about 1:35 later at the N. Philadelphia station. Several included bar cars where Bill might have repaired to soothe his bruised ego. The “Broadway Limited, ” PRR’s all-sleeper through service to Chicago via N. Philadelphia, left Penn Station at 6 pm and would have been long gone when Don ran his powerplay. The New York Central’s competing “20th Century Limited,” routed thru Albany, left Grand Central Station at the same time; both arrived in Chicago 16 hours later.

    Some other thoughts: When I went to high school in the 1950s, condoms were commonly called one of two things — “rubbers” or “Trojans.” . . . In “The Philadelphia Story,” Dexter offers a Stinger to ex-wife Tracy — “It removes the sting,” he tells her . . . Madison Avenue and BBDO were lampooned in the first episode of Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny.” The cartoon satire from Mad Magazine pioneers Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder made its debut in October, 1962 with an initial cast that included Benton Battbarton III — a button-down Mad Man with a Don Draper-like libido.

  2. Also, whatever happened to Peggy’s birth control pills? I guess she didn’t go back on them after she had the baby?
    She presumably was still taking them when she became pregnant — I’ve always assumed it was either that she wasn’t taking them with the perfect consistency required OR that they were slightly less reliable than today — and thus no longer trusts that they are guaranteed protection.

Leave a Reply to Tom Brown Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.