“Mad Men”: Episode 1-2, “A Little Kiss”


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As we return to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce at last after a much-too-long break, “Mad Men’s” two-hour season five opener is a study in contrasts, and parallels.

The contrasts painted in “A Little Kiss” — penned by the main man himself, Matthew Weiner, and directed by Jennifet Getzinger — are most glaring in Mr. and Mrs. Draper. Megan is bathed in day-glo colors of the minute — June 1966 — while Don is still in the black-and-white world of gray suits and tan (London Fog?) overcoats. His one concession to the impending psychedelic era seems to be the occassional stripe on his tie. His neckwear might not be quite as skinny as when the series opened (1960), but it’s still pretty stiff against that starched white shirt.

Don simply looks out of step with the times, and tired from his effort to keep up with, and make sense of, his beguiling new wife. He says he loves her, but the honeymoon is definitely over if he’s already scolding her about wasting money, and he’s too pooped (or uptight) to pop after her “burlesque,” as Layne Price called it, that stirred the flames of plenty of other men in the room. He’s also clearly distracted from the job, which is very out of character for Don.

Peggy Olson is a little more hip to the times than her boss, but seemingly only a little. I noticed it particularly during the party scene (which appeared to take some visual cues from that goofy 1968 Peter Sellers movie “The Party”) by the dress she wore.

The style was pure 1950s — pretty and flattering, but nothing like the micro-mini that Megan wore, nor even the loud prints that Trudy Campbell and Jane Sterling sported. She’s a proto-feminist role model in many ways — the secretary who fought hard to move up the ranks — but there remains an air of insecurity about her that chips away at her confidence.

Joan Harris is a big jumble of conflicting emotions as we catch up with her shortly after she’s added “mother” to her resume. She wanted that baby so badly she opted not to end the pregnancy, even against the threat of her husband discovering her infidelity with Roger Sterling. But bouncing baby Kevin is an obstacle to resuming her previous life as the queen bee of SCDP — as illustrated by her struggle just to get in the door of the lobby with the baby carriage, and by the fact that there’s a new receptionist who barely knows who she is.

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