Monday, September 7, 2009

Review - Mad Men Season 3 Episode 4 The Arrangements

Parents was the theme of the episode and we got to see lots of development on that front. The final scene was disturbing to me on so many levels. We see Sally curled up under the table not really sure how to deal with Gene's death. After hearing the adults laugh a bit, she comes into the kitchen and gives a little rant. Personally, I find child actors (not in horror movies) cute no matter what they do, and this was no exception. The articulation of "really, really gone" just got me amused. Before this, Betty bites into Gene's peach and squirts the fruit everywhere which visually was gross and also was interesting how Betty wanted to eat the peach which to Don seemed macabre while she found it as a way to hang on to Gene.

Sally falls asleep to the television and a story with pictures of a Vietnamese monk who set himself on fire. Too bad she couldn't fall asleep to a happy death story like Pushing Daisies. Sally looks like she'll be scarred for life, but who could you blame? The obvious choice would be Betty, and I guess emotionally she's never really there for her children, but Don isn't really either. Betty doesn't know how to deal with things, and no one has ever taught her. Sally rides such an emotional roller coaster from driving the car with Gene to eating the ice cream, oblivious to the fact that Gene is showing signs of stroke that whatever she does next probably won't be good.

Watching the client plunk millions of dollars for jai alai was a hoot. We all know the idea doesn't catch on except in certain parts of the country, and it just sounds so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh. His father gave him all the money and Pete makes a great comment and how jai alai is an investment his father would make. Of course the client is an idiot and thinks this mean his venture is even better.

Peggy also sparred with her mother over moving out. As always, Peggy comes armed and has plenty of reason to leave. Her mother is clearly opposed and starts spouting off nonsense. The whole thing was pretty straightforward and one-sided. What I found interesting was the way in which Peggy found a roommate. After an overly pretentious note, Joan pitches (literally) an instant plan for success and it works, bringing in Carla Gallo who is in her usual role as the excited, peppy girl.

The Patio ad was a failure after Sal is given reins of the director. The Bye Bye Birdie imitation was fine as I could tell, but the Patio executives had problems with it that they couldn't pin. Without any specifics, this is supposed to reflect on Sal homosexuality. How? Beats me. There will be thousands of ideas with zero answers, but that's what makes interpretation so fun. Sal's personal life is unraveling as his professional career after being made commercial director is improving. While explaining the vision of the Patio commercial to his wife, Sal just had to give us his version. His wife was clearly upset and to be honest I was a little weired out as well.

Another wonderful episode with great performances all around. There were a couple more references to JFK today in regard to parents, and his assassination is looming.

Score: 9.5/10

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You've missed something big. In fact, you missed the same thing that Don and the other guys on the creative team missed with Patio. The Bye-Bye Birdie message targeted men. Men weren't the demographic for Patio. As Peggy tried to point out, the message needed to be targeted toward the people who would by the drink -- women. The creative team told her they needed to give the client what they asked for. Don told Peggy to leave some of her "tools in the toolbox." They were wrong -- and that's why Peggy smiled at Don at the end of the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Roger Stirling nailed the problem with Patio, when he said "It wasn't Anne Margaret". Since they had no hope of landing Anne Margaret, the whole thing was a farce. I agree they should have listened to Peggy in the first place.

TV Obsessed said...

I know another possibility was Peggy proving Don wrong or Sterling's since she had that smirk, but the commercial was Sal's thing. I thought it was a reflection of Sal's inability to appreciate Ann-Margret and her beauty. This may seem bigoted (and a hypothetical in a real world), but maybe if he wasn't gay, the executives would have bought it.

Anonymous said...

Sal delivered EXACTLY what the clients requested. Peggy objected weeks ago saying "sometimes the client don't always know best." Everybody else on the team shooshed her. She smiled at Don the end because she was correct from the get-go. Patio's ad message should have been aimed at the intended customer: women. Men, gay or not, dig Anne Margaret. Women like her too, but the spot was off base --- and once the clients saw it, they even shared the blame because they know it's EXACTLY what they requested.
I have been increasingly annoyed at Betty for her 'terrible parenting'. I'm starting to get it now... she was never taught how to deal with things, she still sees herself as a little girl (her Dad trying to explain his wishes upon his death). She's not emotionally equipped to parent. The scene with Don removing "the dead man's hat" was funny. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Anonymous said...

Many commenters (on other recap sites) have said Gene (who I wish had stayed around longer) was butting in on the parenting, but I disagree, Back in the day, (and yes I'm old enough to be Sally's age in '63) grandparents had a whole lot more authority within the family, and they were respected. They had their say, and if the parents' will out, so be it. But Gene had the right read on everybody...

mikeijames said...

i agree that the client's discontent with the patio commercial had far more to do with peggy's astute assertions and not sal's first time directing. in fact, on another blog, one commenter said that sal did a better ann margaret than the actress in the patio commercial did....so it wasn't for lack of vision on the part of the director. also, they mentioned it's a frame-by-frame reproduction.

what's so funny about the "parent" theme running through this episode is how it references every single time don called betty "a little girl." it makes so much sense now. also, i almost feel like sally is already more mature than her own mother.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other posters. Sal didn't blow it, Peggy was right, which is why she smiled. Pepsi wanted Ann Margaret and the ad was for guys, both were wrong. Without Ann Margaret, the ad looked exectly how Peggy said it would, stupid and childish and did nothing to sell Patio to women. Sal's homosexuality only tied into it to the limited extent his wife finally figured it out. He gave them what they wanted, so I can't see how it was a reflection on him. If he changed it..then maybe. The guys at SC completely misread the campaign and Peggy nailed it. It wasn't a sex product, it should have targeted women who were watching their weight.

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