9:30pm: It's been a long week here in Boston. What's even the right word for a week of tragic events, all spread out over three cities? If Don Draper were around, he would have figured out the right label for the week's events, and then created a great commercial to promote The One Fund Boston, the unified charitiable fund to help the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy. Please fulfill Don's wishes and donate today. Visit The One Fund Boston's website at http://onefundboston.org, and then tell your friends to do the same.
Now, back to Mad Men. Don was lost at the end of Episode 3. He can't get anyone to buy into his ad campaign ideas. His wife is withdrawing emotionally from him after her miscarriage. Even his mistress can't be bought, either by money or by his vaguely threatening pick-up lines. Don is losing control, and he might take SCDP down with him.
Meanwhile, in the B storylines, there's a real threat that Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis could return to our TV screens tonight. Let's hope AMC cares about us enough to keep Betty away for another day. Or season. Or series.
Let's end this week on a high note. The Mad Men live blog is next!
9:48pm: Man on Fire is now on AMC. Maybe we could have gone with something more pleasant, given the events of this week? Of course, AMC does feature shows on flesh-eating zombies and murderous drug dealers, so Man on Fire may be relatively pleasant.
9:53pm: Denzel Washington gets to do some noble self-sacrifice in Man on Fire. Mark Ruffalo gets to do some ignoble self-sacrifice. History is written by the winners.
9:57pm: For an action movie, the end of Man on Fire is a slow, moralistic bummer. Denzel, so brave, yet so boring. Bring on the liars and cheaters of Mad Men!
10:00pm: Thank goodness. Mad Men is now on! And it looks like Peggy or Joan or someone interesting gets a rule.
10:01pm: Hey, Stan Rizzo is in the "previously on" segment. Guess who's getting fired! I think.
10:02pm: Pete and Don has a secret meeting with the Heinz ketchup guy in Pete's bachelor pad. More affairs in Pete's pad, as the SCDP boys cheat on the Heinz baked beans brand manager.
10:03pm: Don's secretary (I think) is in a restaurant with her friend. I really don't know her well enough to take an opinion. Maybe she's Don's next target?
10:04pm: Joan and Joan's mom and "Kate," who is a woman, are all at Joan's apartment. "Kate" has boys. "Kate" has a job interview. Should I know who "Kate" is? Probably. "Kate" cares about "Kate."
10:05pm: Don is at home in his elevator. In walks Sylvia (the doctor's wife), who proceeds to make out with Don and to invite him back to her place when the doctor's away. Don's still got it!
10:07pm: "Kate" is from Spokane. Joan's mom is more interested in "Kate" than in Joan, because Joan will never succeed in her mother's eyes.
10:08pm: Back to SCDP. Harry Crane is drinking out of an ABC mug. Ken comes in seeking advice about how to help Dow Chemical disassociate itself from the Vietnam War, which is difficult considering that they're providing many of the chemicals used in the war.
10:09pm: MICHAEL GINSBERG gets his first real lines in a while and yells "PROJECT KILL MACHINE!" Best line of the season by anyone.
10:10pm: Stan Rizzo is very much not fired and is in fact the head designer on Don and Pete's covert Heinz ketchup campaign. Stan is smoking up, which seems more appropriate for baked beans than for ketchup.
10:11pm: There was another scene with Don's secretary, but I didn't pay attention and don't particularly care.
10:12pm: Megan is on set in a maid's outfit because THAT is what she's here for, and she's going to do a love scene on her show. Megan smiles a lot in the scene. Megan should not smile.
10:13pm: Uh oh. Looks like I shouldn't have missed that scene with Don's secretary. I believe it's now relevant, because Harry's secretary asked Don's secretary to forge her punch card.
10:14pm: Megan has cooked Don coq au vin. Because she's Quebecois. Because she speaks French. And she's smiling so very much.
10:15pm: Don the cheating husband is apathetic about Megan's fake love scenes. He'd probably be as apathetic about her real love scenes. Don has been checked out this year.
10:16pm: Commercial break! This has seemed like a downer of an episode thus far. There are way too many storylines this early in the episode. Mad Men is a soap opera, but it always seemed like a soap opera with a message. I'm not sure where this episode is heading.
10:17pm: Stan's scene made me hungry. Time for some cereal.
10:19pm: Back to Mad Men! Harry is attempting to convince Ken's father-in-law to solve Dow Chemical's PR problem by sponsoring an hour of TV with Joe Namath. Floyd Mayweather has an hour-long special on Showtime now about the months before his imprisonment on abuse charges. So, if Dow passes on Namath, there's that.
10:21pm: Joan is yelling at Harry's secretary about her fake time card. Joan's done this game before.
10:22pm: Dawn! That's Don's secretary's name! It's not going to matter soon, since Joan just fired Harry's secretary and is about to fire Dawn, too.
10:23pm: Harry is upset with Joan about her decision to fire his secretary. The secretary is now a pawn in a power struggle between non-partner Harry and partner Joan. So, Harry does the stupid thing and bursts into the partners' meeting, invokes the origin of Joan's partnership, and demands a partnership. This is not the effective way to get ahead.
10:26pm: Commercial break. Harry's career stupidity is beyond believable. He has built a great career as a TV ad man, and he's blowing it up over a secretary. It's very against his character. The only reason for this dispute is to get the show to its scheduled conclusion next season. That's unfortunate. This accelerated timeline scarred Breaking Bad last half-season and could do the same to Mad Men.
10:29pm: We have a local TV commercial with the tag line "ife's bank." The voiceover made it sound like "life spank." I'll just let that stand on its own.
10:30pm: The end time for tonight's episode is 11:04pm. Be aware.
10:31pm: Back to the show. Dawn is back at her restaurant. She's recounting how horrible SCDP is to its employees, and she has a point (drunkenness, people crying, suicides). Dawn is also sad because she does not have a man. We've all been there.
10:32pm: Joan is at a trendy restaurant with "Kate." By trendy, I mean juvenile. The two girls are going to hook up with a waiter, because Joan is angry about Harry's taunt and wants revenge.
10:33pm: Don and Megan are at dinner with one of Megan's co-stars on her show. The photo at the top of this post is from the scene. That's really the best part of the scene. Both Megan's co-star and the man with Megan's co-star (someone on the show, maybe an exec) are hitting on Don.
10:35pm: The two people on the show are inviting Don and Megan back to their apartment for an orgy. Megan doesn't quite get it. Don very much understands. Ah, now Megan gets it. Quote the creepy man: "Arlene, we've heard no before."
10:36pm: The waiter is in between Joan and "Kate" in the back seat of a cab. Only on a TV show would a waiter be in the middle of Joan and "Kate." "Kate," for those not watching live, is attractive.
10:37pm: Don and Megan are reviewing the orgy request. Megan remains confused.
10:38pm: We're at a Eurotrash club, or what passes for a Eurotrash club in 1968. Joan meets Johnny, the waiter's friend. Johnny's pick-up line: "Johnny and Joan. Bonnie and Clyde." I guess it works, because Joan indulges herself.
10:39pm: Morning at SCDP. Harry arrives for a meeting with Roger and Bert, during which time the elder statesmen give him a $23,000 commission for the Broadway Joe show. In modern-day dollars, that's about $150,000. It's not enough for Harry, who demands a partnership instead of a payoff. Good will! Bert also makes it known that Harry's annual salary is about the amount of the commission, which does not appear to move Harry in any way. New York is expensive.
10:40pm: Bert to Harry: "I was different from you in every way." Harry then threatens to quit. Weak will!
10:42pm: Commercial break! The episode is getting stronger now. Harry's making a stand for a partnership, and he's become the most compelling character of the season thus far. I guess it's still early, but man, it's good to see some real anger.
10:44pm: More commercial break! Hey, The Killing is returning! Get your DVRs ready for another station.
10:45pm: Back to Mad Men. Don is late for work. Cut to Joan's apartment. Joan is late for work. "Kate" is late for something. Didn't she have an interview or something? I guess that's less important than her looks, at least in the Mad Men world.
10:46pm: "Kate" is obsessed with Joan's life. She believes Joan is a master of business. That's why Joan is hours late for work.
10:47pm: Back to the Heinz pitch in a secret hotel room. Don develops another ad that tells half a story — it's a Heinz ketchup ad without any image of ketchup. His fastball is slipping.
10:49pm: The SCDP boys meet Ted Chaough and Peggy Olson in the hallway. Goodbye, Stan Rizzo! Maybe. Don Draper is listening to Peggy's pitch from the hallway.
10:50pm: Peggy's pitch: "Heinz. The only ketchup." In big bold letters. With a giant ketchup bottle. So, Peggy wins. Don is crushed.
10:51pm: Dawn wants to meet with Joan. She apologizes for punching out Harry's secretary's time card. Joan responds by appointing Dawn to run the company time cards. Dawn's friend at the restaurant is a lot more interesting than Dawn.
10:52pm: Commercial break! It's these AT&T commercials (the ones with the kindergarten kids) that don't show a phone until the bitter end. Maybe I don't get advertising, but I think showing the product helps. It's why Peggy's commerical will win the Heinz business — it actually shows the product instead of hinting at it.
10:55pm: More of our long, long commercial break! There's a Sundance Channel show about a….murderer? Reborn sinner? I dunno, but it's two hours long and I don't even know if I get Sundance, so…
10:56pm: Back to the show. The SCDP boys are drinking at a bar near the Heinz ketchup pitch. Two bits of bad news come in the door. First, Ted and Peggy come in and state that they won the pitch. Second, Ken Cosgrove comes in out of nowhere and says that SCDP just lost the Heinz baked beans business due to their disloyalty. This is an interesting segment with many implications for the future of SCDP, which is why the scene abruptly ends and cuts away to Megan's show.
10:59pm: Megan is not a good actress in her fake show. Don is upset at Megan for her boring fake kissing, for some reason. I really don't understand why he's upset about this.
11:00pm: Don to Megan: "You kiss people for money." I really don't understand why Don is upset, other than residual anger about SCDP's blown ketchup pitch.
11:02pm: Don arrives at Sylvia's door. Sylvia prays for Don to find peace, then proceeds to make out with him, which actually causes more strife in his relationship. And we end on a contradiction, which is the point of Season 6.
11:03pm: Next episode's preview: Betty is back! That's all I remember.
Final score: Harry Crane wins the night by being the only character to take a stand. He demanded a promotion to partner. He wants real recognition for his efforts, not just money or praise. Peggy Olson finishes a close second by presenting a ketchup ad that actually features ketchup. Don finishes last for a horribly subtle ketchup ad that implies the beauty of ketchup without actually showing it. When I want ketchup, I want ketchup — not the hint of ketchup, not the idea of ketchup, but actual ketchup.
Tonight's show was disjointed. The multitude of storylines led to a confused narrative. Viewers of Mad Men want to know more about Don, Roger, Peggy, and even Pete Campbell. Joan's storyline tonight revealed nothing new about her, other than her depression and apathy.
Mad Men needs to return to active characters. No more apathy. Don needs to sell something next week, because he's still better at the ad game than anyone else on the show. Don Draper would never have proposed a ketchup ad without ketchup. Time to step it up.
Thanks for reading! See you next week.