MAD MEN “Waldorf Stories” Review

MAD MEN "Waldorf Stories"

This week’s episode of MAD MEN found Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce up for a Clio award, a flashback as to how Don and Roger met, and entire days lost to Don’s drinking. Business as usual, right?

The first scene shows an eager young lad wanting to enter into the ad business. Unfortunately his portfolio only has five original items and all with tag lines stemming from “cure for the common [insert product here].” Fortunately, he is related to Roger’s cousin which gets him the initial interview and, in the end, a job much to Peggy’s disappointment. It doesn’t hurt that in a moment of drunken laziness, Don uses the poor kid’s “cure for the common” slogan to win over the Life cereal people. I am not sure I can talk about Don at all this episode without using the word “drunk” in some form of an adjective. It really is the center of his story this week.

The agency is up for a Clio award and although the entire office is excited, Don seems rather blase about it. Particularly excited is Peggy who came up with the Glow Coat ad idea. Her excitement quickly evaporates when she realizes that she will not be attending the awards despite her hard work on the ad campaign. Furthering her disappointment is the fact that Joan gets to attend even though there were only four tickets. Also contributing to Peggy’s dour mood is the fact that she is being forced to work with Stan on the Vicks ad and neither of them can see eye to eye. In a moment of drunken clarity, Don forces Peggy and Stan to work together in a hotel room all weekend until they come up with someone. Taking inspiration from Stan’s muses, Peggy manages to make Stan uncomfortable enough to let her take free reign.

Don manages to drum up excitement for the Clios after his win. Was anyone else touched to see Joan holding both Don and Roger’s hands under the table without the other one knowing? Don is so excited after the awards and the afterparty that he manages to take home one woman and wake up next to another two days later. He also manages to forget to pickup his children and once again, leaves them behind without so much as a second thought. Don later learns that he has lost two days of his life, the Life cereal people love the tired slogan that he stole from a potential employee, and that he locked Peggy and Stan together in a hotel. The result is a meeting with the Life people to fix it, hiring the boy whose slogan he stole, and basically drinking the rest of the day away.

What I loved most about this episode was the flashback as to when Don and Roger met. Don was a bright eyed fur salesman and Roger was an ad man trying to woo Joan with a fur. Don also did slogans on the side. Roger generally thought they were awful. Don persistently pursued an audience with Roger and finally got him at his weakeness, with a 10 a.m. drink. During the two hours they spent drinking, Roger offered Don a job. Much like the Don of today, however, Roger completely forgot that he did so. The moral of that story is that Roger unknowingly picked a winner in Don and Don says as much when he thanks him the following Monday. Somehow I don’t think Don’s hiring of Jonathon from Buffy will turn out quite so well.

Finally, Pete is dismayed to learn that the partners went behind his back to offer Ken Crosgrove a place at the firm. Lane appeals to Pete’s pride by insisting that Roger is a child and Pete cannot do everything on his own. Pete is too young and foolish to know when he is being snowed and Lane is a master of spin. Pete does insist on meeting with Ken privately where he asserts his position and authority in the firm. I guess our little Pete is growing up after all.

An episode wouldn’t be complete these days without a Mrs. Blakenship moment. This week we get a few. First, Don asks Mrs. Blakenship to call the bar to find his award as he thinks he left it there. Mrs. Blakenship responds with “what category?” to which Don replies dryly, “Best actress…it’s a Clio!” My other favorite line is when Don goes into his office and finds the potential employee in there and you faintly hear Mrs. Blankenship say “Oh, your little friend is in there.”

What did you think about this week’s episode of Mad Men? Peggy seems to be growing and coming into her own with each new episode, but with Don hiring people based on his own mistakes and not on talent, how long until Peggy feels like no one appreciates what she does? How long until Betty refuses to give Don the children at all? Most importantly, how long until Roger’s book comes out? I know I would love to learn the finer points of chocolate versus vanilla ice cream. Share your thoughts about this week’s episode of Mad Men in the comments below.