TV Review: Mad Men - "The Doorway" Parts 1 And 2

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rating: 4.5

Come with me, friends. It€™s time to go back to the 1960s. Back to the days of martini lunches, miniskirts and facial hair. Oh, so much facial hair. Yes, it€™s that time of the year again. It€™s time for Mad Men. Season six launched with two episodes that I€™m going to review as a whole. They make for an interesting jumping-off point for this, the penultimate season of Mad Men. They let us catch up with all our favorite characters and provide a great sense of €œmoving the pieces€ so that everything is in place for the rest of the season. Of course that last part is both a strength and a weakness. But let€™s see where everyone is before I launch into something more detailed. Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Pare) start off in Hawaii, where Don is visiting a hotel that is hiring the firm to do work for them. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is settled in well at her new job, and gets to deal with a fun little panic situation. Betty (January Jones) is having a little mid-life crisis. Roger (John Slattery) gets to deal with the death of his mother. Let€™s start with that last plot. It€™s something of a truism that from the start, Slattery has been one of the great resources for the series, and anytime he€™s on screen, he tends to be interesting. This episode is no exception. He does an excellent job portraying someone who is basically a somewhat grown-up boy dealing with the death of his mother, which he does by lashing out inappropriately. The scene where he finally accepts her death and starts properly grieving is something impressive to behold. But I sense this plotline isn€™t going to have any real long-term potential. No, for that we have to turn, as is so often the case, to Don and Megan. Don has become friends with a doctor who lives in his building; a doctor so dedicated to his job that he skis into work on New Year€™s morning at 1am in order to save a life. Don finds this fascinating and compelling, and it€™s a good way to see just how much the character is missing from his own life, especially when contrasted with what we see him doing later. It€™s clear that he still isn€™t satisfied with his existence, and, on a side note, I€™m very curious to see what€™s going to become of the lighter, since I have a feeling this is something we€™re going to see again. Betty€™s plotline was also fairly interesting. She develops a very slight, likely one-way, bond with one of Sally€™s friends. Said friend goes missing, and Betty goes looking for her in some of the less savory parts of New York City. I like that Betty does this. I like even more the fact that I€™m not 100% sure why she does, and I love the fact that I don€™t think Betty herself knows exactly why she€™s doing it. I was also really baffled, and, it must be said, unsettled by Betty€™s little monologue suggesting her husband gag and rape said young girl. That scene was entirely creepy and effective, and very well-played by Jones. As for Peggy, we see that she€™s grown into quite an executive. She does well in a crisis, as her boss observes. I also love that she€™s staying in touch with Stan over at what I assume is now just Sterling Cooper Draper, since leaving €œPryce€ hanging at the end would be in poor taste. Really, there was much to like here, but it is important to note that the episode was almost entirely set-up for things that will, presumably, pay off during the rest of the season. That€™s not a bad thing, and as set-up goes it was very good, but it is worth noting that really, not much happens beyond that set-up. Nevertheless, Mad Men is back, and I€™m quite happy. It€™ll be very interesting to see how the series deals with the rather complicated and unpleasant events of 1968. If the paper Don was reading thought 1967 was violent, oh, boy, just wait. Just wait.
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Chris Swanson is a freelance writer and blogger based in Phoenix, Arizona, where winter happens to other people. His blog is at wilybadger.wordpress.com