Full two-hour Mad Men premiere now online, showing Don Draper as lion headed for winter
So now that AMC had a chance to get all possible Mad Men fans to crawl in front of the TV for Sunday's show, the channel has posted the full two-premiere for anyone who wants to relive it or see what all the fuss is about outside of cable.
It may be tough for newbies to catch up; so much of Mad Men's resonance is about knowing these characters. When Elisabeth Moss' Peggy Olson complains about her hard work going unnoticed, fans know this is a gripe she's had for a looong time -- compounded by her concern that star character Don Draper (Jon Hamm) seems about as focused on their advertising firm as kid with a bag of candy and attention deficit issues.
The show started with something Mad Men fans have rarely seen -- black faces. Show creator Matt Weiner told me this scene was deliberately calibrated to make you think the crowd of black protesters were in front of Draper's firm of Sterling Cooper, Draper and Pryce. But we quickly learn it's another agency, which winds up looking awful when its executives toss water bombs on the civil rights protesters.
When I first saw this scene, it felt a lot like Weiner pushing back against people -- like me -- who have lamented that the show has never featured a major black character. Contrary to what some say, history isn't much of a defense; there were some rare black advertising executives even in the mid-'60s. If Mad Men can turn some of its story over to a woman's journey from secretary to copywriter, it would certainly do the same for a black executive. After all, how many ad executives in the '60s took the identity of a dead soldier in Korea?
But the black protesters are again just a footnote of sorts, showing up at Sterling Cooper after the firm runs an "equal opportunity" employment notice, mostly just to tweak the firm which water bombed the protesters. After limiting the applicants to women for secretarial jobs, I wonder if Weiner will allow one minor black female into his mostly-white world.
Draper, of course, remains torn between living the life he's created for himself and revealing more of his true self. (for newbies, Draper took the identity of another man in the Korean War and has spent the past few seasons coping with the revelation of that deception to his wife and select co-workers). Having married the secretary who fell in love with the illusion, Draper seems happy but occasionally distracted, unwilling to focus on his work now that he has a new love at home.
Draper's new wife Megan is the unexpected emotional core of the two-hour episode. Even after months living as his wife, she somehow missed how deeply embarrassing he would find a surprise birthday party held at his home. For a man who spends so much time holding most of the world at bay, having work friends over to his home was like stripping naked in Times Square; Megan's decision to sing him a sexy song only made it worse, because Draper knows what the other men in his office will say.
Sure enough, Megan learned the hard way after she returned to work that all she did was feed the male staffers' fantasies of having sex with her and stoke the female staffers' jealousy of her connection to the firm's Alpha Male.
That's some of my thoughts after seeing the two-hour show at least three times (one addition: sad to see actress January Jones' pregnancy kept her out of the show's blockbuster return).
Check it out below and add your own thoughts here: