“Mad Men”: A highlights reel

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In preparation for the Mad Men finale, I watched the season opener, “For Those Who Think Young,” again.

Kathy Lyford, Stuart Levine and I have consistently marveled at the intricate craftsmanship of this show in these weekly blog posts. But it really is amazing to look back at the 13 segs in their entirety and to consider the care and planning that went in to stringing the threads and revealing a little bit more of the puzzle week by week. Kudos to Matthew Weiner, Robin Veith and the rest of the “Mad Men” team. We owe you.

It struck me that a whole bunch of season two is described in this quote from the book “Meditations in an Emergency” that is featured as a voice-over from Don as he reads the book near the end of the season opener.

“Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again…and interesting… and modern.”

This season began on Feb. 14, 1962, with a breathless Jackie Kennedy leading us on a tour of the White House via the small screen, and ended eight months later on the heels of her husband’s famed Oct. 22 televised address warning the world that a nuclear attack could well be brewing. Enough drama for you?

Think of how much the world for the Sterling Cooper-ites changes in that time — from the boundless promise of JFK’s New Frontier to the Cold War chill, the confrontation of racism and the civil rights movement, the budding awakening of what will be dubbed “women’s lib,” and the underside of celebrity culture laid bare by Marilyn Monroe’s self-destruction.

I can’t wait to find out where we go from here. It’s gonna be eight long months, presuming AMC sticks with its summer skedding pattern.

Before we say goodbye to season two, it’s worth taking a look back at a highlights reel. I’d love to hear some comments/criticisms/suggestions from others who are as obsessed with this show as Littleton/Lyford/Levine, LLC.

To start, a shout-out to a few of the supporting players whose work hasn’t been as heralded as much as the that of the core ensemble.

Kiernan Shipka — Sally Draper had so much to play this year. This is one talented moppet.

Alison Brie — She always does so much with Trudy Campbell’s limited screen time.

Joel Murray — We miss Freddy Rumsen already.

Melinda McGraw — Oooh, did I hate Bobbie Barrett, to the credit of Ms. McGraw.

GREAT LINES:

“What did you bring me, daddy?” — Peggy Olson (Episode 1, “For Those Who Think Young”)

“It’s so obvious why you’re seeing her — A supermarket checkout girl? The conversation must be stimulating. ‘Lettuce costs a nickel…You, out there in your poor little rich boy apartment, in Newark or wherever…Walking around with your pipe and your beard. Falling in love with that girl just to show how interesting you are.” — Joan Holloway (Episode 2, “Flight 1”)

“God, I miss the 50s” — Roger Sterling (Episode 3, “The Benefactor”)

“God, I miss the blacklist” — CBS executive (Episode 3, “The Benefactor”)

“My people are Nordic” — Betty Draper (Episode 3, “The Benefactor”)

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