Mad Men: “The Good News”

This episode begins with Joan visiting her gynecologist. She wants to get off birth control pills and start a family, and the physician says that she shouldn’t have any problems… even after having two abortions.


We then see Don walking into the office. Whatever awkwardness he and Allison had seems to be been smoothed over. Harry walks in to Don’s office, where he says that he’s noticed that Don will spend a day in Los Angeles before heading down to Acapulco. He recommends a restaurant to Don and gives him the name of a director he should look up whilst there. Lane then walks in Don’s office, and while Harry tells him to have fun in London, Lane indicates that he has much work to do.

Meanwhile, Joan asks Lane for some time off during January, as Greg is working during the holidays. Lane gruffly rebuffs her, and after the two have some words, Joan calmly walks out of his office.

Don apparently makes his flight, because the next thing we see is Don driving a convertible down an oceanside highway. He visits Anna, who is limping due to a broken leg. The two go inside, where Don makes her sit down. He pours her a drink and notices a stain on the wall from a water leak. Anna’s sister Patty and her daughter Stephanie then show up with a load of laundry they’d done to help Anna. She invites the girls to stay for dinner, but Patty says she has a bridge date with friends. Anna says she only wanted Stephanie to stay anyway. Patty isn’t happy about it, but lets her stay anyway. Anna wants her to stay, as “she has grass”.

Back in New York, Joan comes home to Greg, who is leaving the apartment. He says that a colleague has offered them his mountain cabin, but Joan says that she can’t get the time off. Greg suggests that she just not show up for work, but Joan says she’ll lose her job. Greg says it doesn’t matter if she loses her job. The two then argue over their future, with Greg certain that everything will be OK, and Joan unsure about his basic training and his possible deployment to Vietnam. Greg leaves the apartment in a huff.

Back in California, Anna and Don sit in the restaurant with Stephanie, who tells the about campus life. Stephanie then takes a few jabs at Don’s line of work and gets up to go to the jukebox. In her absence, Don talks about bringing Sally and Bobby out to meet Anna. He also tells her how liberating it felt telling Betty about his past.

“I could tell the minute she saw who I really was, she never wanted to look at me again.”

Stephanie then comes back to the table, and Don slow dances with her.

We then see Don and Stephanie dropping a tipsy Anna off at her house. After Stephanie says she’ll hitch her way home, Don insists on driving her. At Patty’s house, Don parks the car and starts hitting on Stephanie. Just when things start to get really creepy, Stephanie charges gears on Don: she says that Anna has terminal cancer, and she and Patty have been keeping it from her. Don gets angry, but Stephanie says that she just didn’t want him to leave without knowing.

The next morning, Don (in a t-shirt and boxers) starts painting the wall where the stain is. He tells Anna that he will be staying for a while longer. Anna fires up a joint and offers it to Don. She mentions the nearby air force base, and says that she once saw a UFO. The two have a discussion about life outside earth.

Just then there’s a knock at the door. Patty walks in with a bag of groceries, and Don follows her outside to chew her out about the way she’s handling Anna’s cancer. Don says that he’s taking charge and that he’s going to pull out all the stops for her treatment. Patty says that they’ve shown Anna’s x-rays to all kinds of specialists, and that they all agree that nothing can be done. She further says that Don has no part in this family and that he’s “just a man, in a room, with a checkbook”. Both calm down a bit, and Patty asks Don to leave before he says anything to Anna about her cancer.

Back inside, Don defends Patty to Anna, who thinks Patti’s mad because of the marijuana smoking. Don sits on the sofa, pops open a bottle of Coke, and tells Anna that he has something he needs to tell her. There’s a long pause, and Don, almost in tears, says that he has to go. Don promises to bring the kids out at Easter, and Anna says they’ll go to Catalina Island. He stands up and goes back to painting.

Back in New York, Joan receives flowers. She thinks they’re from Greg at first, but then flies into a rage when the card reads “Darling, I’ve been an ass. Kisses, Lane”. She runs to his office and throws the flowers at him. Joan says that he makes her feel like a “helpless, stupid little girl”. Lane says that he did send her flowers, but the card was meant for some flowers he sent to his wife. Lane calls Sandy, his secretary, into the office, where both Lane and Joan rail on her. When Sandy tells them what was on Joan’s card, Lane imagines a divorce and Joan fires her.

In California, Don comes downstairs, suitcase in hand, in a suit and tie. He sees Anna painting a flower on the wall. She invites him to join her, so he paints “Dick + Anna ’64” on the wall. They hug, and Don tells her to call him if she needs anything. He’s almost in tears.


Back in New York, Greg walks into the apartment on New Year’s morning. Joan has decided to celebrate New Year’s on “Hawaiian Time” so they could celebrate together. However, Joan cuts herself badly trying to slice an orange. She would really prefer to go to the emergency room, but Greg insists on sewing her up. Joan starts crying as he takes care of her.

Later that morning, Don walks into the office. He finds Lane sitting at his desk. He has apparently canceled his trip to London, officially because he has “too much work”, but unofficially because his wife is furious with him about the flower mix-up. Don asks if he can make himself a drink, and Lane pulls from a desk drawer a gift box of Scotch from his father. Don enjoys the drink and turns to go to his office, but Lane stops him by saying that although SCDP is not “out of the woods” yet, they nevertheless had a magnificent year.

We then see Lane lying down on the sofa in his office. Suddenly, Don calls out to him. In the break room eating a sandwich, Don says that the two of them are going to the movies. The two go through a list of films, and just when it seems as if they’ll see a pretentious European film, we see them watching a Godzilla-type film. They’re both really tipsy, and Don points out people getting handjobs in the theatre. When Lane loudly asks Don about it, a woman turns around and tells him to be quiet. Lane replies to her in mock Japanese, which makes them both laugh.

The two then go to a restaurant, where they’ve ordered steaks. Lane admits that he really likes New York, then indirectly asks Don for relationship advice. Don declines, but says that he has a “lady friend” he can hook him up with. Lane thinks it over for a minute, then agrees. Their dinners come, and Don says that he’s not hungry. A drunken Lane can’t believe him. Lane then stands up, puts his own steak on his crotch, and loudly says “I got a big, Texas belt buckle… yee haw!”

We then see the two men at a nightclub, where a stand-up comedian hackles them for being gay. When Candace (the hooker Don hooked up with on Thanksgiving) shows up with a friend named Janine, the comedian decides that Don and Lane aren’t gay, they’re rich. As soon as the music starts, Don suggests that they leave.

At his apartment, Candice complains because Don has neither mixers nor food. The girls then bring out drinks for the men. Lane and Janine then go to the bedroom while Don and Candice sit on the sofa.

The next morning, Don is in the kitchen making coffee when Lane walks out of the bedroom. Lane, hungover, says he’s “incredibly thirsty”, and Don gives him a glass of water. Lane asks Don what he owes him for the evening, but Don tells him not to worry about it. Lane insists on paying for the girl, who Don says cost $25. Lane gives him $30, thanks him for the “welcome distraction” and leaves.

Monday morning… January 4, 1965… rolls around, and Lane shows up late to a meeting of senior staff. Joan, sitting at the head of the table, asks the gentlemen if they should begin 1965.


– Joan’s doctor is Dr. Walter Emerson. He’s the same doctor who prescribed birth control pills to Peggy in season 1.

– The song Dr. Emerson refers to is “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”. The song was featured in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much. Sung by lead actress Doris Day, the song hit #2 on the Billboard charts in the US, was a hit in the UK as well, won an Academy Award for Best Song that year, was the theme song to the The Doris Day Show sitcom (1968-1973) and became Doris Day’s signature song.

– I’m not 100% sure about this, but when Harry mentions the traffic on the Triborough Bridge, that would indicate (to me) that Don is flying out of LaGuardia. This would certainly make sense today, as most domestic flights out of New York City originate out of LaGuardia and Newark, although I don’t know if that was the case in 1964. Incidentally, the Triborough Bridge, which is actually a series of bridges, was renamed the “Robert F, Kennedy Bridge” in 2008.

The Brown Derby was a small chain of restaurants in the Los Angeles area. The original location, at 3427 Wilshire Boulevard, was shaped like a brown derby hat. But it was the second, more traditional location, at 1628 North Vine Street, that became famous as the restaurant to go to in the “golden age’ of Hollywood. The original Wilshire restaurant was sold in 1975 and became a shopping center in 1980. The Hollywood restaurant was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1987. The Beverly Hills location was closed in 1980 and demolished in 1983. The restaurant at 4500 Los Feliz Blvd is still open, however the nightclub portion of the building was closed in January 2009 after a shooting inside the club.

William “Bill” Asher is a television director and producer who was responsible for many of early TV’s biggest hits. Asher directed episodes of such shows as Our Miss Brooks (one of the very first hit TV sitcoms), the Danny Thomas show Make Room For Daddy, The Thin Man, The Donna Reed Show, The Patty Duke Show, Gidget, The Twilight Zone, Alice, Private Benjamin, The Dukes of Hazzard and The Bad News Bears. He’s probably best known as the producer and director of Bewitched, which was a huge hit and starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery. I don’t know if Harry’s name drop is just a “shout out” to Asher, or if they’re trying to make a joke about how Don looks like Darrin Stephens or what. As you may recall, Darrin worked at the “McMann and Tate Advertising Agency”, and Don does look at bit like the actors who played Darrin, soooo… Any guesses?

-Paterson, New Jersey was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1791. Actually, Hamilton founded the “Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures”, which in turn founded the town to take advantage of some waterfalls in the area, a major source of power in the pre-electricity days. The first designer of the city was Pierre L’Enfant, famous for designing the layout of Washington, DC. When L’Enfant was accused to taking too much time and money to design the town and waterworks, he was replaced by a man named Peter Colt. When Colt’s designs proved troublesome, much of L’Enfant’s original work was resurrected. The city’s Eastside High School was the real-life school that inspired the Morgan Freeman film Lean on Me, and Paterson is mentioned in Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl. Lastly, speaking of Colt, the first revolver was developed by Samuel Colt and manufactured by his Patent Arms Company in Paterson. The gun is known as the Colt Paterson.

– When Don finds out that Stephanie goes to Berkley, he asks if she’s taking part in any sit-ins. He’s not referring to any “generic” sit-ins at colleges in the 60s, he’s referring to a specific series of events that took place at Berkley in late 1964. In September of that year, the university banned students from using campus property to raise funds or support off-campus causes. On September 29, eight students were expelled for violating the ban, and a couple of days later an expelled student who’d remained on campus was arrested for trespass. Around 3,500 students protested the arrest, surrounding the police car and holding it “captive” for 32 hours. Although the university lifted much of its policy, it still threatened students for “political activity”. On December 2, the university threatened to sanction four students who had organized the “police car rally”. This set off another protest, where 5,000 students (and notorious leftie Joan Baez) protested the action. Around 1,000 students splinted off and occupied Sproul Hall in a sit-in. The next day, governor Edmund G. Brown ordered 400 police officers to remove the protesters, and eventually 800 people were arrested and charged with trespass and unlawful assembly. Contrary to the image portrayed by popular media, not all students supported the sit-in; many appeared as counter-protesters and supported the police.

Here’s a video of one of the protesters:


– Anna’s sister Patty is married to Glenn.

Abalone is a type of sea snail. Valued as both a food source and for its iridescent shells, the sea creatures are eaten nearly everywhere in the world they’re found.

-The Pocono Mountains are located in northeastern Pennsylvania, and have been a popular vacation destination since the early 20th century, when Quakers opened the Buck Hill Falls and Pocono Manor resorts. 80% of all Pennsylvania resorts and campsites are located in the Poconos.

– Don reveals to Stephanie and Anna that he took night classes at the City College of New York. Founded in 1847, CCNY was the first of a series of municipally-supported colleges in the city of New York.

– The songs heard in the background at the restaurant in California are “Sidewalk Surfin'” by Jan and Dean and “Old Cape Cod” by Patti Page. “Sidewalk Surfin'” was originally recorded by The Beach Boys as “Catch a Wave”, from the 1963 album Surfer Girl. Jan and Dean rewrote the lyrics, changing the subject of the song from surfing to skateboarding. And although Stephanie complains about “Old Cape Cod” being old fart music, it was actually released in 1957… so, only 7 years old at the time of this episode.

– The grocery bag Don brings into Anna’s house is branded as “Pronto Market”. This was a small chain of grocery\convenience stores in California. Now, you might be familiar with the grocery store chain called Aldi. It was started by two German brothers, who eventually split the chain into two separate companies: ALDI Nord (Aldi North, which operates in western, northern and eastern Germany, Denmark, France, Benelux, Spain, Portugal and Poland) and ALDI Süd (Aldi South, which operates in western and southern Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Australia and the United States). Theo Albrecht, the brother who ran ALDI Nord, bought the Pronto Market chain, which by then had been converted over to Trader Joe’s stores, because Pronto owner Joe Coulombe was afraid to compete with 7-Eleven and thought of the “Trader Joe” motif while on vacation in the Caribbean. You might have noticed that ALDI Süd owns all the Aldi stores in the US, and ALDI Nord owns Trader Joe’s which makes them competitors… even though two brothers owned each company (Theo died recently). Anyway, you can see a picture of a Pronto Market here.

-“Acapulco? You think there’s more Mexicans here or there?” If only Anna knew!

Loved when Don said “we’ll have to smoke the dress” to Lane while he was pouring Scotch into a flask. That, of course, was said by Anna earlier when she talked about rolling over on the joint she had in her pocket.

– The list of possible movies Don and Lane mentioned: Zorba the Greek, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Send Me No Flowers, The Guns of August and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

– Speaking of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Catherine Deneuve, here’s a picture of her on the set of the film. Man, she was gorgeous!


– POSSIBLE GOOF? According to IMDB, The Guns of August wasn’t released until August 5, 1965. I can’t find anything to back that date up, however.

– FOR SURE GOOF: The movie Don and Lane end up going to see is called either Gamera or Gammera the Invincible. The film, about a giant turtle who rampages like Godzilla, was originally released as Gamera in Japan on November 26, 1965. It debuted in the United States (in New Orleans, for some reason) as the heavily-edited Gammera the Invincible on December 15, 1966. The movie’s Wikipedia entry is unclear as to whether import versions were shown in art house theatres before the “wide” release in 1966. In any case, the movie came out at least 11 months after Don and Lane allegedly see it in New York.

– The stand-up comedian’s style bears more than a passing resemblance to Lenny Bruce, a then-controversial American comedian who freely attacked social mores of the time. In April 1964, Bruce did a show at Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village. Undercover police officers arrested him on obscenity charges after the show, and Bruce was found guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964. Bruce died of a morphine overdose on August 3, 1966, and was awarded the first posthumous pardon in the history of New York state on December 23, 2003.

Barnard College, which Don says that Janine does not attend, is a women’s liberal arts college in New York City. It’s one of the Seven Sisters schools, and has been affiliated with Ivy League Columbia University since 1900. U.S. News & World Report, which ranks American universities annually, considers Barnard the most selective women’s university in the nation.

– What a cheap hooker! Don says that she cost $25 for the night, which is only $171.08 when adjusted for inflation.


Wow! What an episode! I experienced such a range of emotions while watching this! First, happiness that Don saw Anna. Then revulsion when Don started hitting on Stephanie. Then intense sadness when she told Don about Anna’s cancer. But just when things started to look very bleak, we got drunken Lane, which was one of the funniest moments in the history of the show. If you had told me when Lane first showed up that he would get drunk and hold a steak to his crotch like a belt buckle, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Is it just me, or is the theme of this season’s Mad Men becoming youth, or the old “young vs. old” war? It seems like every story line has to do with people aging, trying to stop aging, or discussing youthful things like sit-ins and smoking pot. Hell, Don is acting more and more like a frat boy than ever, only a rich frat boy who can easily afford Scotch, steak dinners and hookers.

Also, it is just me, or is Don Draper starting to bleed into Dick Whitman, and vice versa?

Anyone wanna take a stab as to why Joan was crying when Greg sewed her up? At first glance, the answer would seem to be that she’s depressed about the way her life’s turned out. She was so careful at Sterling Cooper, and thought she’d landed a doctor… only she doesn’t seem any closer to her dream life that she was when the show started. However, I think there’s more going on here. At the beginning of the episode, she’s the one playing the adult while Greg acts like a spoiled teenager. However, when she cuts herself Greg becomes the adult and Joan becomes the whimpering kid. There’s also the matter of Joan looking down on Greg. She’s seen him fall from a future surgeon to someone who has to join the Army to keep practicing medicine… but yet, he has such a good bedside manner that we wonder if she feels guilty about feeling that way. I guess we don’t know for now, but I’m sure we’ll find out later.

Also, I’m placing bets that Don and Lane become “friends” of a sort. They’re both single (or, in Lane’s case, effectively single), and I think a Don\Lane relationship would be one of equals, whereas Don’s only other “friend” (Roger) has always been the superior in their relationship. Plus, Don’s been to Europe, likes highbrow Scotch and European films, so I think those two will get along grandly in the future.

So that leaves me with Anna’s cancer. That has to come as a terrible blow to “Dick”. After all, as she herself said, she’s the one person in the entire world who knows everything about him and loves him anyway. I mean, imagine if you were Don, living a huge lie that engulfs every single person you know. Now imagine that the only person who knows the real you and loves you wholeheartedly is dying. While I’m sure it would suck for Anna, it’s got to be even worse for Don. With Betty gone and her keeping a short leash on the kids, it seems like Don is about to become very, very alone in this world. When Anna dies, Dick Whitman is going to die too, ya know.

Damn, I can’t wait until Sunday!

9 Replies to “Mad Men: “The Good News””

  1. Thank you for these recaps! I also experienced a range of emotions watching this episode. I nearly burst into tears when Don was holding Anna and you could tell he was holding back from crying. Amazing acting from Jon Hamm. The scenes with Don and Lane at the movie theatre and the restaurant cracked me up. I am hopelessly addicted to this show.

  2. I don’t know, and it seems to be a mystery to others, too. Check out the comments for this post at TV Squad:

    It seems that the consensus over there is that it’s an original piece by David Carbonara, the main composer for Mad Men’s incidental music. It’s not on the season 1 or 2 soundtracks, nor is it on the iTunes-only score soundtrack.

    If it IS Carbonara, it’ll probably show up on a soundtrack CD, which usually comes out after the season airs on TV.

    I wish I was more help!


  3. Thanks so much for your research. I was trying to figure out the name of the song Don was dancing to because I knew it had been sampled, but I couldn’t place it. Turns out Patti Page’s “Old Cape Cod” was sampled by Groove Armada for their hit “At the River.” Both great songs. Thanks for the info!

  4. The song is called Wave by Oscar Peterson.
    Although i don’t think the version played in the episode is the original.

    Hope this helps!

  5. David Carbonara- Pacific Coast Highway! I found this site while hours of googling for the song so I thought I’d reply even though I’m a year late. Maybe someone else will be lookin for it

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