Mad Men: “A Little Kiss”

Season 5 of Mad Men kicks off with African Americans protesting for equal employment opportunities outside the offices of ad firm Young & Rubicam. Y&R execs, fed up with the protesters, drop water-bombs on them. Several protesters go up to the Y&R offices to complain, but the receptionist assures them that no one on the executive floor would do such a thing… and, just at that moment, the Y&R execs walk in to the reception area with several additional water bombs.

We then see Sally waking up at Don’s new apartment. She walks down the hall, allegedly looking for a bathroom, but instead she knocks on Don’s bedroom door. She’s greeted by her father, but can’t help seeing a half-naked Megan in the bed:


Don then cooks breakfast for Sally, Bobby and Gene. Sally gives Don his birthday present from the kids – a new shaving brush – as Megan walks in. Megan asks what the kids are doing today, and Don says they’re going to the Statue of Liberty, to which Bobby says that they’ve made many plans to go there, but never have. We then see Don dropping the kids off at Henry and Betty’s large, but soulless, home.

The next morning, we see Pete on the train, heading in to Manhattan from Connecticut. A fellow commuter strikes up a conversation, in which Pete laments how his sexy wife has become a boring mom. The commuter says that Pete now takes the 17:25 train home, but will one day take the 19:05 train home, and that if he got his driver’s license he could push it back even later.

At the office, Roger goes to Don’s secretary and laments his diminished role at the agency.

We then see Joan at home, changing the baby. Joan also skirmishes with her somewhat overbearing mother, who has come to help with the baby. Mom offers to take the baby for a walk, and Joan, who really wants a nap, readily agrees.

Pete asks Ken, Peggy and Stan if they are ready for the Heinz presentation. They say that they are, but they’re waiting on approval from Don and Megan’s designs for the coupons. Pete, irritated that he can’t get his secretary Clara on the intercom, storms out of his office to see Roger flirting with her. Pete rudely dismisses Roger and yells at his secretary. Finding out that Don has arrived, Pete goes to talk to him. The other partners appear, and Roger says that they should run an ad poking fun at Y&R for the water bomb incident. The men finish their impromptu meeting, and Don calls Megan into his office. He flirts with her, but she’s somewhat reluctant, because she doesn’t want people in the office talking about them. Caroline buzzes that Pete wants to see Don, so Megan leaves, but not before Don talks her in to opening her blouse for him.

Pete comes in to Don’s office and asks if he could have any client in the world who it would be. Don says that he’d want American Airlines, because they turned SCDP down. Pete then mentions former Sterling Cooper client Mohawk Airways. Pete says that they’re in trouble and want a new agency, and that he’s scheduled a lunch with them. Don turns down Pete’s offer to join him, but says that he will meet with the Mohawk reps later in the process.

Meanwhile, Peggy walks up to Megan’s desk to see how she’s coming with the Heinz coupons. Peggy praises Megan’s work, although she didn’t do the coupons as asked. Peggy then asks Stan to “revise” (read: completely redo) the style of the coupons. After Stan leaves, Megan mentions that tomorrow is Don’s 40th birthday and that she’s planning a surprise party. Peggy isn’t sure the party is a good idea, but Megan assures her that it will be incredible, and that “everyone will go home and have sex”. Megan then pulls out a list of names she’s pulled from his Rolodex. Peggy says that Freddy Rumsen doesn’t come to parties (loyally withholding it’s because he’s a recovering alcoholic). She also says that they must invite Harry; Megan agrees, although she says that Don doesn’t really like him. Frank Keller (Don’s accountant) is added to the guest list, but Duck Philips is not.

At Joan’s apartment, Joan gushes over the job her mother is doing with Kevin. She wonders how she’ll get along after her mother leaves and Joan goes back to work. Joan’s mother is surprised that she’d want to go back to work, and says that she only worked because she had to. Joan says that she promised SCDP, and they need her. Gail says that Greg won’t allow her to work Joan has an obvious problem with this.

We then see Pete arriving at his lunch with Mohawk. He is visibly annoyed, as Roger has shown up early and is having drinks with the Mohawk reps. Pete tells Roger that he’s wanted back at the office and should leave. After a tense moment, Roger does. Pete is visibly jealous that the two Mohawk guys preferred Roger to him.

Back at the office, Peggy walks the Heinz reps through their idea for the “Dancing Beans” campaign: a high-tech ballet using the latest slow-motion techniques. Raymond, the Heinz exec, is not impressed. He has trouble connecting the “high art” of the commercial with their blue collar product. Raymond says that beans are “slimy” and up close they look like a “bunch of organs”. Just then Don walks in and asks Raymond if he likes the ad. He says that he doesn’t, giving a bunch of reasons why younger folks would dislike the commercial. “It has no message” he says. Raymond says that people think of the Depression and World War II when they think of beans, and he wants college kids to like them, to think they are cool. The Heinz execs leave, escorted out by Ken and Stan. Peggy, left in the conference room with Don, says that she wishes he had been there to really sell it to Heinz. Don says that he could have done that, but they would have pulled the plug at the last minute, so why bother?

We then see Pete walking in his office. He trips over something, which causes him to smash his nose on the giant support beam. He screams for Clara, and accuses her of sabotaging the Mohawk meeting by allowing Roger to see his schedule. Ken walks up and the two discuss the state of the company, as well as Roger and Don’s performance as of late.

A tired Pete walks into his Connecticut home, with the train whistling in the background. Trudy, in a frumpy housecoat, walks in and says that he’s come home late. Pete says that he got a ride home from the train station thanks to a cab driver leaving a bar. She asks how his day was, and he politely implies that it wasn’t good. The two have a brief but sweet conversation, and Trudy goes off to bed.

Saturday has arrived, and we see guests awaiting Don’s arrival at his apartment. A randy Don chases Megan out of the elevator and starts making out with her. She tries to lure him to the apartment, but as they turn the corner they see Roger and Jane arguing outside the door. The surprise blown, all four enter the apartment, where most of the SCDP staff are waiting.

“A Negro homosexual, a Canadian sexpot and an unaccompanied redhead. This may be my key demographic.”

– Harry Crane

Don is all smiles and polite to everyone at the party, but it’s clear that he’s not happy about the surprise party. And this displeasure becomes even more apparent when Megan gives him his present: she walks on the stage and starts singing the sultry French song “Zou Bisou Bisou”, complete with a sexy, highly provocative dance. While the party-goers (especially the male ones) enjoy the sexy dance, Don is visibly horrified to see his wife act so provocatively in public, especially after Roger gives a toast to Don.


After the party, an exhausted Don flops in to bed fully clothed. Megan asks if he had fun at his party, and a cranky Don says that he just wants to go to sleep. He then tells her not to waste money on such things, and when Megan says that she spent her own money, he asks her not to spend her own money embarrassing him. The two talk about how Don doesn’t like birthdays, and how he (supposedly) doesn’t like being the center of attention. Despite Megan’s attempts to be frisky, Don begs to go to sleep. Megan, her feelings hurt, leaves him in the bedroom.

On Monday morning, Lane finds a wallet in the back of a cab. He hesitates about turning the wallet over to the cab driver, and instead takes it himself, giving the driver a business card in case someone should call looking for the wallet.

At Don’s apartment, we see him wake up and start shaving with the brush the kids gave him for his birthday. At one point, Don pauses and gives himself one of those “who am I?” looks in the mirror.

Back at the office, a happy Pete walks in to Lane’s office and talks about the party; he’s happy because Mohawk wants another meeting. Their talk is interrupted by a phone call from Rebecca: apparently she and Lane were arguing this morning. It seems that she opened a letter addressed to him from his son Nigel’s school: Lane has no yet paid for the upcoming school year, and shes worried about the school giving up his place, especially given his (apparently mediocre) grades. As Lane talks to Rebecca, he flips through the wallet he found and discovers a photograph of a beautiful woman:


We can tell that he’s enchanted by the photograph, which he flips over to find that it’s signed by “Delores”. Rebecca also asks Lane to get the name of Don’s real estate agent and his decorator.

At Joan’s, our newest mommy freaks out when she returns home from the post office to find Gail entertaining Paolo, a repairman. Joan doesn’t want a man “whose finger have been in every toilet from here to the Bowery” touching the baby, but Gail just wants to butter Paolo up so that he’ll reply speedily to any problems in the future. The two argue for a bit, but then Gail shows Joan the ad Roger ran for SCDP. Joan, confused about her future at the agency thanks to the ad, is worried.

Back at the office, Don and Megan arrive, and it’s clear that they’ve been arguing. Roger greets Don with a chipper “Bonjour!” while Don’s secretary gives him a plant. Roger walks toward Don, all the while singing “Frere Jacques” and doing his own mocking “sexy dance”. Roger shows him the ad, then the two head off to a partner’s meeting in Pete’s office.

Pete is on the phone with Caroline, trying to track down Roger and Don. The two walk in the office, but hide behind the support column. Pete, annoyed, calls the meeting to order. He says that he’s bringing Mohawk in for a meeting, but he wants to know where they’re going to sit in his cramped office. Pete is obviously hinting that he wants a new office, and when Roger says that he can hold the meeting in his office, Pete lists all the clients that he (Pete) has brought in. Pete and Roger snipe back and forth at each other until Roger asks him to “step outside”. When Pete doesn’t move, Roger says “I thought so” and leaves the meeting.

Don walks back to his office and passes the break room, where Harry and Stan compliment him on the party. As soon as Don walks by, the two start talking about how sexy Megan is. Unbeknownst to Harry, Megan walks up behind him as he graphically describes what he would do to her (Stan tries to stop him by saying hello to Megan, but Harry thinks it’s a joke). After a few moments, Megan walks past Harry and into the break room, causing a nervous Harry to try and save face. As soon as she leaves, Stan cracks up.

Meanwhile, Delores calls Lane on behalf of wallet owner Alex Polito. The two have a flirty conversation, which Lane accidentally pushes to far when he offers to deliver the wallet to her himself. Rebuffed, Lane regains his stiff upper lip and asks her to come by SCDP. Lane stares at the photo of Delores for a few moments before putting it away.

Harry is in his office when his secretary buzzes, say that Roger needs to see him right away. Harry, thinking he’s getting fired for his comments about Megan, panics. Come to find out, Roger just wants to bribe him into switching offices with Pete. Harry doesn’t want to switch, so Roger gives him $1,100 to switch.

Joan shows up at the SCDP office, and “enjoys” a catty conversation with Meredith, the new receptionist. She finally gets in to the office where she’s greeted warmly by everyone, especially Roger:


Joan then meets with Lane to discuss the state of the agency’s finances. Poor Kevin is passed from office worker to office worker, and at one point we hear Megan tell Peggy that she’s surprised that Peggy didn’t tell Joan she looked bad during her pregnancy. When Peggy asks why, Megan replies that she “seem[s] to say whatever’s on [her] mind”, in reference to a quip Peggy made to Don at the party about him making her work overtime. Peggy goes to apologize, but Megan begins breaking down, talking about how everyone at SCDP is “so cynical” and “doesn’t smile”. Megan declares that she suddenly doesn’t feel well, so she goes home.

Back in Lane’s office, he explains the financial situation to Joan. She then asks him point-blank about the employment ad in that morning’s New York Times. Lane assures her that it was a “private barb” directed at Y&R. Lane assures her that her job is safe, even as she starts crying. Lane comforts her as she recovers. Lane tells her about the party, which makes her laugh. Soon, Meredith knocks on the door, having ended up with Kevin. Joan takes the baby and goes to lave, but not before Lane holds her for a few moments.

Meanwhile, Pete, who is unsure of what’s actually going on, marches in to Harry’s office to demand an explanation. Pete, furious at Roger, rants about how he is head of accounts and is bringing in all the business. At the same time, Peggy goes to Don’s office to apologize for her behavior at the party. Don says that it’s no problem, but Peggy says that she only brought it up because it upset Megan so much that she left. Don decides to leave, too.

Some time passes, and we see Lane smoking a pipe on the sofa of his office. His intercom buzzes, and Meredeth informs him that “Mr. Polito” is here to pick up his wallet. Visibly disappointed that Delores didn’t come herself, he tells her that he will be there in a few moments. Lane gets the wallet out of his desk drawer, but takes the picture of Delores out and hides it in his desk blotter. He then goes to the reception area and gives the wallet back to Mr. Polito, who gives him (I think) a $10 reward.

At the apartment, Don comes home to find Megan cleaning the apartment in her underwear. She angrily tells Don not to look at her, that “he doesn’t deserve” to look at her:


She taunts Don by calling him old, and saying that he “probably couldn’t do it anyway”. Don grabs her, and tells her to get up. Megan says “I don’t want people to think you’re getting this”. Don says that she wants him badly; Megan says that she doesn’t. However, the two are soon on the floor, on their way to having hot, angry make-up sex.

Back at the agency, Stand walks by Harry’s old office and sees Pete sitting there. He asks what happened to Harry, and Pete asks who cares. Clara gets up and asks if Stan needs to see “Mr. Campbell”. A confused Stan walks away. Pete asks Clara if Roger is still in the office. When she replies that he is, he asks her to schedule him a meeting for 6:00 am the next morning at the ferry building in Staten Island.

Back at the apartment, Don assures Megan that he loves her, and that the reason he didn’t want to have the party was because he didn’t want the employees in his home. He tells her that she was only there for a few months before they married, and all the problems she thinks the agency has were there long before she started.

The next morning. Roger wakes up early to head out to Staten Island. Jane wakes up and asks what time it is, and Roger tells her to shut up.

We then see Pete playing cards with Howard on the train. Pete is apparently talking about getting an in-ground pool, complete with deck chairs. When Howard balks at how much it will cost, Pete (who is relaxed and all smiles) says that they’ll see come December.

We then see a montage of others stating their day – Rebecca asks Lane for some money for the grocery store, and he reaches in his wallet… with the picture of Delores precariously close to falling out. We see Gail and Joan on the elevator, with Joan rocking Kevin to sleep.

We finally see Don and Megan riding the elevator up to SCDP. But after the door opens, they turn the corner and find the SCDP lobby full of black folks. Although the “equal opportunity” ad was run as a joke by Roger, apparently many people took them at their word. The partners discuss what to do – including Roger, who has just gotten back from Staten Island and who quips “Is it just me, or is the lobby full of Negroes?”. The men continue to discuss what to do when Meredeth walks up with an African statue “from Y&R”. It has a resume attached which lists “toted dat barge, lifted dat bale” as part of its work experience. Everyone but Pete laughs. Bert asks if the blacks in the lobby saw the statue, and Meredeth says that she’s certain they did. The partners all sigh, and Lane goes to the lobby and tells the assembled crowd that they’re only hiring secretaries at the moment, so the gentlemen are free to go welcome to leave may go. He then collects resumes from the remaining women.



– This two-part episode was written by Matthew Weiner and directed by Jennifer Getzinger.

– The opening scene (with the protesters and water bombs) really happened. In fact, it was front page news in the May 28, 1966 edition of The New York Times. The “Goldwater ’68” and “Get a job!” posters seen in the Y&R windows on the show were real, as mentioned in the New York Times article. Much of the dialog in the following scene, when the protesters come up to the office to complain, was taken from real life (the white man standing behind the protesters taking notes is an actor portraying NYT reporter John Kifner, who wrote the article). Amusingly, television critic Matt Zoller Seitz called the “and they call us savages” line “unfortunately hamhanded” and “a terrible line”, apparently unaware that the line was spoken in real-life. In real life Y&R office manager Frank Coppola apologized to the women, ordered the windows shut on all floors, and had men patrolling the halls to make sure the incident wasn’t repeated.

– Assuming the real-life article appeared in the following day’s newspaper, this episode starts on May 27, 1966.

– The cool instrumental song playing when Sally wakes up in Don’s new apartment is “Ebb Tide” by Ken Griffin:


– When Don drops the kids off at Henry and Betty’s house, he tells them to “give Morticia and Lurch my love”. This is, of course, a reference to The Addams Family, a one-panel cartoon drawn by Charles Addams which appeared in The New Yorker from 1938 to 1964. Don is most likely referring to the ABC TV show which ran from 1964 to 1966 instead of the cartoon when he talks to the kids. Although the show has attained cult status (at least in the US), it’s easy to forget that it only ran for two seasons on ABC, for a total of 64 episodes. Amusingly, New Yorker editor William Shawn, the epitome of stuck-up New Yorker employees, refused to run Addams Family strips in the magazine once the TV show hit the airwaves, because any ol’ bumpkin could see the show on TV. Although the New Yorker ran other Addams strips, The Addams Family wasn’t “allowed” back in the magazine until Shawn retired in 1987 (and then only ran for year, until Addams’ death in 1988).

– We know that the Campbells have moved to Connecticut because at the beginning of the train scene you can see an ad (on the right side of the car) for the New Haven Railroad. Also, the conductor announces that Greenwich is the next stop. So Pete must live east of Greenwich. Also, I don’t recall seeing “Howard” before, but it’s apparent from their conversation that the two know each other.

– The $50 Roger gives Caroline (Don’s secretary) is worth $332.19 in 2010 dollars.

– Joan and Roger’s baby boy is named Kevin.

– When Joan’s mom offers to buy formula for the baby, she takes $10, which is $66.44 in 2010 dollars (and it’s why Joan asked what mom was planning to buy with the money).

– Because of the Memorial Day holiday, which Roger mentions to Pete’s secretary Clara, the first scenes at SCDP don’t take place until Tuesday, May 31, 1966.

– Roger mentions a meeting with Bruce Lewis from Oldsmobile, who wants to know if there’s “a way around Nader”. Oldsmobile, founded in 1897 by Ransom E. Olds and purchased by General Motors in 1908, was the oldest automobile marque (brand) in the United States and one of the oldest in the world before GM killed off the brand in 2004. Ralph Nader is an American political activist who focused on consumer safety issues, especially those having to do with automobiles. His 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed directly attacked the safety record of American cars. Nader has run for president six times, and some say that he had an impact in the 2000 election (they assume that, had Nader not run, his votes would have skewed heavily in favor of Al Gore, perhaps pushing the election in Gore’s favor).

– Lane says that he “has lunch at the Four As” and might not return conscious. He’s talking about the American Association of Advertising Agencies, an advertising trade group.

– The financial and labor troubles of Mohawk Airlines that Pete mentions were real. In 1971, things were so bad for Mohawk that they started merger negotiations with another regional carrier, Allegheny Airlines. The merger was completed in 1972. Thanks to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, the merged company decided to change its name in 1979 from the regional “Allegheny Airlines” to the more national “USAir”. This was actually lengthened to “US Airways” in the 1990s. In 2005, the bankrupt US Airways was purchased by America West Airlines, but due to consumer studies which showed that the “US Airways” name was more recognizable than “America West”, the new company kept the US Airways name.

– I believe I’ve mentioned this in previous recaps, but Don’s birthdate is June 1, 1926. Or so we think. Mad Men fan sites are full of speculation as to how old Dick Whitman\Don Draper really is. It seems to me that if “Don” really is 40 in 1966, that would make him slightly too young to have been a lieutenant in the Korean War, especially since the real Don Draper appeared to be several years older than Dick Whitman. Many fans seem to think that the real Don Draper was born around 1917. But if so, that raises the question of how Dick was able to assume Draper’s identity whilst keeping his genuine birthdate. Don’s age is actually a huge problem for the show: for example, there was the old picture of Don and his step-brother from 1944. Thanks to this episode, we know that Dick is supposed to be 18 in that picture, but he claimed to have joined the Army “to get out of his small town” around 1950 or so. So what was Dick doing for those missing six years? If Don was 18 in 1944, couldn’t he have joined the Army then to get out of his small town? And when we see “Don” on the train accompanying “Dick’s” body back to his small hometown, why does his brother still appear to be 8 or 9 years-old? Shouldn’t he be well into his teens by then? Just to show you how confusing it all is, here’s a post from a member of a Mad Men fansite about the issue:

We have endlessly discussed numerous problems with most of the age timelines.

Matt Weiner has stated that Dick Whitman was born in 1926 without being specific about the month and date. We assume Dick’s birthday is anywhere from January to March of 1926.

Therefore Dick should have been drafted during 1944. By 25 June 1950 if Dick had re-enlisted he would have been a combat veteran and at least a PFC, not a scared recruit.

Lt. Don Draper stated to Pvt Whitman that he was short time because “The Army got me with college.” Of course no officer would have such a conversation with an enlisted man. But if that was exposition, then Lt. Draper was part of the WWII V-12 program. This deferred military service for university students in some majors, especially engineering. The USA government also paid for most of the university expenses in exchange for a duration of hostilities or 4 years at the pleasure of the military service tour as an officer.

Assuming Pete’s friend found the correct Lt. Draper born in 1917, then he would have been 24 in 1941 (before V-12 started) and should have graduated from engineering school in 1939 or maybe 1940. V-12 did not cover grad school.

On the other hand, if Don Draper was born before June 1923 he would have been established as an engineering student and an ideal V-12 candidate, set to graduate with the Class of 1945. By then the USA military had a surplus of civil engineers such as Draper.

Some engineers from the Class of 1945 were eventually called to serve, but those were mostly into electronics and aeronautics.

Even if Lt. Draper was on his first active duty tour, which originally was to end in early 1951, by the time he met Pvt Whitman in late 1950 in Korea, Lt Draper would know all about the “Stop Loss” order of 25 June 1950 extending the service of all military officers. Trust me, no Army engineer on the ground in Korea during combat in 1950 was delusional enough to expect a discharge any time soon.

– For the youngsters out there, a Rolodex is “a rotating file device used to store business contact information”. Basically, it’s a wheel in which the user puts specially formatted index cards with contact information on it. Lettered tabs help with organization:


Although not invented until 1956 and not marketed until 1958, the Rolodex was an almost instant success. It wasn’t until personal computers became ubiquitous in the workplace in the 1990s that sales started to fall.

– We first saw Raymond, the Heinz executive, in season 4’s “Blowing Smoke” (recap here).

– I’m not the only one who noticed similarities between the Heinz pitch and the Martinson Coffee pitch from season 2. This post at Basket of Kisses runs through the parallels nicely, not just the actual pitch from “The Gold Violin”, but also Kurt’s “enjoy the dancing beans” line from “The Jet Set”.

– The Lockheed U2 is, of course, a famous American spy plane. The U2’s first flight was on August 1, 1955 and the planes entered service in 1957. The U2 is known for the Francis Gary Powers incident in 1960, in which a U2 was shot down over Soviet airspace, causing a crisis between the Eisenhower administration and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The planes were also vital in the Cuban Missile Crisis, when aerial photographs from U2s showed Soviet missiles on the ground in Cuba. Incredibly, the planes are still in active service today, flying missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. The US Air Force has plans to keep flying the U2 until at least 2015.

– Is this the first time we’ve heard Pete call Trudy “Tweety”? Is that a parallel with Don calling Betty “Birdie”?

– The first person to come up to Don at the party is Frank Keller, his accountant (it’s been a while since we’ve seen him).

– At the party, Bert Cooper argues about the Domino Theory with Peggy’s boyfriend Abe Drexler (good to see him still around) and Stan. The Domino Theory has its origins in World War II, when the Soviets occupied much of Eastern Europe. In 1947, President Truman announced the Truman Doctrine, where the US sent considerable aid to Greece and Turkey to keep them from falling under Soviet influence. Later that same year, diplomat George Kennan would write an article in the magazine Foreign Affairs talking about “containment” of Soviet influence. Starting in 1949, China, parts of Korea and Vietnam fell to Communist revolutionaries, alarming the Eisenhower administration. On April 7, 1954, Eisenhower said the following at a news conference:

Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the ‘falling domino’ principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.

Although the Domino Theory, as espoused by Eisenhower in the 1950s, has gone away, some still talk of a “domino theory” with regards to Islamic theocracies in the Middle East.

– At the end of their argument, Abe mentions Johnny Got His Gun, which is a 1938 novel by American author Dalton Trumbo. It tells the story of Joe Bonham, a soldier in WWI who is hit by an artillery shell. Bonham’s eyes, ears, tongue and teeth are gone, as well as his arms and legs. His mind, however, is unaffected, making him a prisoner in his own body. He tries to suffocate himself, but doctors spoil this by giving him a tracheotomy. As time passes, his suicide wish starts to ebb, and he tells the doctors (via Morse Code) that he wants to be placed in a glass box and sent on tour around the country to show the true horrors of war. When he realizes that this won’t happen, he begins living in a sort of fantasy world, reliving old family memories and exploring the myths of warfare.

Don Ameche (who, Harry points out, also has a silver walking stick) was an American actor whose career spanned almost 60 years. He starred in dozens of Hollywood films, including the 1939 film The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, which led to a short-lived pop culture craze of calling a telephone an “Ameche”, as in “there’s a call for you on the Ameche”. Folks around my age (41) probably know him best as evil rich guy Mortimer Duke in the Eddie Murphy film Trading Places, or as Art Selwyn in the 1985 film Cocoon. At the time of this episode, Ameche was at the apex of his TV career, with roles in The Polly Bergen Show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom and The Greatest Show on Earth. However he was also 58 at the time of this episode, so it perhaps wasn’t a good gift for Don, who is supposedly turning 40.

– I’m a little confused about one thing: at the party, Lane’s wife tells Megan that her mother told her to surprise her husband every day, to which Lane jokes that that’s why they didn’t “have a lock on the WC”. “WC” stands for water closet, and it’s an old-fashioned British term for the American “bathroom”. But would Lane have actually said that? I’ve been to England several times, and have only heard such places referred to as “toilets”. I always thought that “WC” was a European term, given how ubiquitous I found signs for “WCs” in Germany and Austria. Was Lane trying to appeal to Megan’s French Canadian origins? Or was WC a common phrase in the UK at the time? Or is Lane just from a stuffy, quasi-Victoria background where WC was still used? Can anyone help me out with this?

– More help? At the party, when Abe and Peggy talk to the Campbells, Abe says that he’s a journalist, and that there have been “four riots in three cities in two months”. Does anyone have any idea of what he’s talking about? Wikipedia has a list of riots, and all the riots in the United States in 1966 seemed to happen after Don’s birthday: the Division Street Riots (June 12–14 , Chicago), Hough Riots (July, Cleveland), Compton’s Cafeteria Riot (August, San Francisco), Benton Harbor Riot (August–September, Benton Harbor, Michigan),
Atlanta Riot of 1966 (September 6, Atlanta) and the Sunset Strip Curfew Riots (multiple instances from the mid 60s to the 70s, Los Angeles). Riots I’ve found from other sources include the Hunters Point Uprising (September, San Francisco), the Fire Hydrant Riots (July, Chicago), the Waukegan Riot (August 27, Waukegan, Illinois) and the Omaha Riots (two separate events, July 1 and August 1, Omaha, Nebraska). The only major riots I can find before Don’s birthday was the Watts Riot, which was a huge event, but it started on August 11, 1965… almost ten months before this episode. Once again, can anyone help me out with this?

– I’m not going to spend a lot of time on “Zou Bisou Bisou”, as there were hundreds of articles posted about it online after the episode aired. The first version of the song was supposedly recorded by Gillian Hills. Hills was born in Cairo to British adventurer Denis Hills and Dunia Lesmianowna, the daughter of Polish poet Boleslaw Lesmian. Hills spent most of her childhood in France, where she attracted the attention of famed director Roger Vadim, director of the iconic 1956 film And God Created Woman, and husband of Brigitte Bardot. Vadim cast Hills in his version of Les liaisons dangereuse (if you’re American, you’re probably more familiar with that story thanks to the 1988 Glenn Close\John Malkovich film Dangerous Liaisons, or the 1999 “cool kids” remake, Cruel Intentions. Hills version of the song, recorded in 1960, was produced by renowned Beatles producer George Martin. However, there is some evidence that Sophia Loren’s English version – released under the name “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” as a promotional tie-in with her movie The Millionairess – was actually recorded first. Read more about the muddled origins of the song at Wikipedia here.

– Loved the exchange between Roger and Jane after Megan’s dance: “Why don’t you dance like her?” “Why don’t you look like him?”

– Adding to Don’s birthday confusion, after the party he tells Megan that he’s “been 40 for half a year”. This implies that Dick Whitman was actually six months older than Don Draper, but I just don’t see how this is possible.

– Megan hints to us that she knows about Dick Whitman (and a few minutes later she actually calls him by that name). What else does she know about Dick\Don’s past?

-There’s a milk truck behind Lane when he finds the wallet. Either the “Pur-Est Dairy of Yonkers, New York” never existed, or evidence of its existence has completely eluded Google.

– Lane’s 50¢ tip to the cab driver would be worth $3.32 today: that seems like it would be enough for a standard journey, but perhaps Lane should have tipped a bit more for being difficult about the wallet, no?

– According to the side of the cab, the rates are 35¢ for the drop charge and 5¢ for each additional 1/5 mile. That’s $2.33 and 33¢ when adjusted to 2010 dollars. According to the New York City Taxicab and Limousine Commission website, the current rates are $2.50 and 40¢. So the rates are about the same then as now; I bet if I could use 2011 dollars the margin would be even closer.

– GOOF? When Don wakes up on Monday following the party, you can hear a newscast on the radio next to the bed. It talks about “evacuating the North Carolina coast”. This would seem to indicate Hurricane Alma, but if so, the timeline is off. The storm formed off the coast of Honduras on June 4, 1966, then headed towards Florida. After hitting Florida it weakened to a tropical storm, crossed over Georgia and became a hurricane again when it hit the Atlantic. Wilmington, North Carolina did, in fact, get a awful lot of rain from the storm, but that wasn’t until June 10 or June 11, a week after the party. And since Pete mentions the party in the next scene at Lane’s office, we know that it’s actually June 6.

Masters and Johnson were the research team of William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. They met in 1957 when Masters hired Johnson to assist him in his “comprehensive study of human sexuality”. Like Alfred Kinsey, Masters and Johnson were pioneers in the study of human sexuality; unlike Kinsey, who based his study on personal interviews, Masters and Johnson preferred direct observation in a laboratory. For decades, “Masters and Johnson” was slang for someone knowledgeable about sex or who had a lot of sex (or, sarcastically, someone without knowledge or frequency of sex). I had a male friend of mine who, in his 30s, still didn’t know what or where the clitoris was ; I remember calling him “Masters and Johnson”, although that was slightly old fashioned in the late 90s. Their first major work, Human Sexual Response, was published in January 1966, so it’s likely to have entered pop culture by the time Pete mentions them.

– The Social Security Card in the wallet Lane finds was issued to “Alexander Polito” and bears the number 987-65-4328. This is not a valid Social Security number. Social Security numbers 987-65-4320 through 987-65-4329 were created by the SSA for use in advertisements, movies and as sample cards, much like the infamous 555-xxxx phone numbers in movies and TV. I don’t know the history of 987-65-432x numbers, but it’s likely that they were created thanks to the 078-05-1120 debacle. In 1938, the Lockport, New York-based wallet manufacturer E.H. Ferree decided to include a sample Social Security card in their wallets (Social Security cards being a new thing at the time). Their card was smaller than a genuine Social Security card, was printed in all red ink (instead of Social Security’s trademark blue) and said “SPECIMEN” in large letters across the front. But, for whatever reason, instead of using something simple like 123-45-6789 as the SSN on the sample cards, the company decided to use the actual Social Security number of one of their employees, Hilda Schrader Whitcher. And thousands of people decided to use the sample cards as their own. At its 1943 peak, almost 5,800 people were using Whitcher’s SSN. Although the SSA voided the number and gave Whitcher a new one, people continued to use the number as late as 1977, when 5 people claimed it as their own. Because most of the wallets were sold at the Woolworth chain, the cards were known as the “Social Security cards issued by Woolworth”.

– Nigel apparently attends “St. Paul’s School”. There are a number of schools with that name in the northeastern United States, although the most likely candidate is a now closed school in Garden City, New York on Long Island (or, as natives call it, “Lawn Guyland”). The school was built by the Episcopal Church in the 1880s in a beautiful High Victorian Gothic style. Sadly, the school closed in 1991, and although on the National Register of Historic Places, it seems destined for demolition. You should seriously read the New York Times article about the school here. It’ll break your heart.

– Here’s a close-up of the SCDP ad:

(click to enlarge)

– When did Roger switch from Lucky Strikes to Camel? You can clearly see his pack of Camels at the partner’s meeting in Pete’s office (when Pete asks him to not smoke, he pulls out the Camel pack and puts the cigarette back). Is this because Lucky Strike dumped SCDP?

– In the scene where Harry describes what he’d do to Megan, he says “Ooh, je voudrais mas, Harry”, which roughly translates to “I want some more, Harry”. I don’t speak French, so I know if that’s the correct idiom or not.

– I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that if you watch Mad Men, and if you love the show enough to read these recaps, you probably know who Cary Grant is.

– When Roger asks Harry who the most important person he could bring to his office is, he replies with “William Paley”. William S. Paley was the CEO of Columbia Broadcasting System, better known to Americans as the CBS Network. In 1927, Paley’s father and some business associates bought the financially unstable Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System, a network of 16 radio stations based out of Philadelphia. Paley’s father bought the network mainly to serve as a means of advertising the family’s cigar business. But the younger Paley was so good at the radio business that soon the family bought the network outright and expanded to over 114 stations. Paley was not only one of the first broadcasters to recognize the importance of advertisers, but also one of the first to recognize that TV could be a national medium (before Paley, most radio stations were treated as local outfits, like a local newspaper). Paley also successfully handled the transition from radio to TV (NBC, by contrast, had dominated CBS in radio but struggled to compete against CBS on TV). William S. Paley should not be confused with William Paley, the 18th century English Christian apologist.

– Adjusted for inflation, Roger’s $1,100 office-switching offer to Harry is worth $7,308.20 in modern money. That is a pretty large sum of cash to be carrying around. It’s true that credit cards weren’t nearly as popular then as they are today, and debit cards didn’t even exist at all back then. But still… that’s a lot of cash, Roger!

– Joan mentions that either she or Kevin want to “get a drink at the Copa”. This is a reference to the Copacabana nightclub, originally located at 10 East 60th Street in Manhattan. It was opened on November 10, 1940 by Monte Proser and notorious mobster Frank Costello. Costello eventually forced Proser out and replaced him with longtime speakeasy operator Jules Podell. Podell originally had a strict “whites only” policy, and entertainer Harry Belafonte (then a sailor in the US Navy) was denied entrance there in 1944. The rules changed, however, and Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr., Sam Cooke, The Supremes, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, and Marvin Gaye all played there, among others. The club was the site of many performances of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, including their last as a duo on July 25, 1956. On May 16, 1957, a group of New York Yankees baseball players – including Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Billy Martin – came to the club with their wives to celebrate Martin’s birthday. An intoxicated bowling team began heckling Sammy Davis Jr. and began using racial slurs against him. This infuriated Martin, who had been a roommate of Elston Howard, the first black New York Yankee. The two groups then got into a minor scuffle. The club was also the subject of the Barry Manilow song “Copacabana”, and was featured in several films, most prominently the celebrated steadicam scene in Goodfellas:


– When Megan holds Kevin, she calls him her “little cabbage”, then says “Mon petit chou”, which is French for… “my little cabbage”.

– When Pete goes to Harry’s office to talk about the switch, we see Clara behind him with a box of Pete’s stuff, including the rifle. Nice to see that the propmasters haven’t forgotten it!


– I can’t believe that: a) Pete (or the writers) used Coca-Cola as the company in Pete’s prank of Roger or that b) Roger fell for it. Of all the companies in the world, Coca-Cola is just about the last company that would consider switching agencies. As far as I know, in the entire history of Coca-Cola, the company has used a grand total of two ad agencies. Coke signed with their first agency – The D’Arcy Agency of St. Louis – in 1906, and stayed with them for 50 years. Although D’Arcy was highly thought of in the world of print advertising, the agency really struggled with radio and TV, especially after the deaths of agency founder William D’Arcy and Archie Lee, Coke’s longtime account man at D’Arcy. In fact, after Coke left, D’Arcy shut down completely. The Atlanta-based soft drink giant switched to McCann-Erickson (known today as Universal McCann) in 1956, and has been with them ever since. It took some time, but McCann eventually started hitting them out of the park for Coke: “Things Go Better with Coke”, the “Hilltop” commercial, “Coke Adds Life”, “Have a Coke and a Smile”, “Mean Joe Greene”, “Coke Is It!” and almost every other iconic Coke commercial or slogan you can think of came from McCann. Read more about Coke’s advertising history here.

– The title of the episode – “A Little Kiss” – comes from “Zou Bisou Bisou”, which roughly translates as “Oh! Kiss Kiss” in English.

– The closing song in this episode is “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield:



Well, this was a typical Mad Men season opener. When I first watched it, I was ready to give it a 5 on the traditional “1 to 10” scale. Watching it again for this recap, I’m ready to curve that up to at least a 6, if not a 7.

The funny thing is that Mad Men has been off the air for 18 months, and AMC hyped this premiere to almost unrealistic expectations. It seems that many folks have forgotten that every season opener (except for “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”) was always seen as something of a dud by many “Maddicts”. In the early days of R.E.M. it seemed like for every 10 new listeners the band gained with every new album, it lost 4 established listeners, who complained that the band had “sold out”, or “wasn’t the same” or was “going in a weird new direction”. I can’t speak for Mad Men’s viewership numbers, but every time I read season premiere reviews from fans I can’t help but think of disillusioned fans of R.E.M.’s Reckoning and Fables of the Reconstruction grumbling when Life’s Rich Pageant came out. By the end of the season I’m sure we’ll all be calling this season the best season of the show ever. I feel it in my bones.

Now, getting to the heart of the matter: it seems apparent that Pete is becoming the “anti-Don”. Of course, in many ways, Pete has always been the anti-Don. But with Bert Cooper more out there than ever, with Roger rapidly getting frozen out (by both his own actions, as well as Pete’s machinations), and with Don so wrapped up in Megan, it’s up to Pete to become the “new” Don Draper: the slick talking salesman who can sell ice to Eskimos and bring in ever bigger accounts. But it’s not a burden Pete wears with grace. Where Don is so slick that clients want to impress him, Pete tries to do that… but fails miserably. I can’t wait to see where all this goes.

And then there’s Roger. He seems so unhappy. He knows his time at the agency is almost up, and that his main role is to take clients out and get them drunk. But his opinion really doesn’t matter at SCDP any more, except insofar as he has the cash to back it up. And the arguing with Jane is sad. Not unexpected, mind you, just sad.

Nice to see that Lane doesn’t trust black people (the cab driver) and that he’s also still lonely. I wonder what was going through his mind when he finally met Mr. Polito. I wonder if (and this is my take) Lane thinks the picture is old, and that the “Delores” of the photograph is the Delores of 20 years ago.

Well, that’s about all for my thoughts. I’m several episodes behind with these recaps, so there’s little I can add that hasn’t been written about already on a hundred websites. Perhaps in the near future – when things start to shake out in the season – I’ll be able to post some more.

As always, I can’t wait for the next episode!

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