So where are we, compared to where this season started? Not much further than where we started, except for Peggy. I guess we're about to find out whether Don Draper only likes the beginnings of things, and my assumption is that it wasn't much of a cliffhanger at the end of the episode, was it? Temptation will always be there, and if it's not this woman, it'll be the next one. Pete Campbell is too punchable for me to care about his inner sadness (as the fun-house mirror version of Michael Scott), and Roger's acid trips are only fun when they're happening. And compared to other seasons, I didn't feel like the clients (and potential clients) were used in nearly as interesting ways in trying to reveal things about the characters, or the era. (Weiner said yesterday he regrets that Jon Hamm's charisma made his Dow pitch last week seem not as ugly as it was supposed to be received.)
Season 5 did some great things with mood -- the paranoia around the Speck murders, Sally's disappointing introduction into the adult world at the Codfish Ball, and there were a lot of satisfying scenes along the way. (The Peggy-Roger negotiations! "Chewing gum on his pubis.") But this was not a Great Season in the way others were, and things were a bit too explicit the whole way -- Cool Whip and toxic smog as metaphor, and the return of Adam Whitman in particular. Oh well. (It's still better than almost anything else.) Maureen Ryan:
It's not that "'Mad Men' is no longer a worthy show, but it's hard to avoid the feeling that "Mad Men" didn't live up to its enormous potential this season. I still love these characters and this world, but, let's face it, this year, as least for a subset of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce fans, something was a little off. Or, at times, a lot off.
It wasn't just the self-absorbed, unpleasant behavior on display that was off-putting -- I certainly expect a generous amount of that on the show, which is, after all, about the sordid and sad realities behind the shiny facades created by the advertising world. But the sheer amount of selfishness, frustrated peevishness and ruthlessness in "Mad Men" Season 5, combined with the generally downbeat tone that pervaded every episode, made for a uniquely dour season... Is "Mad Men" going to go its whole run without taking on race in a meaningful way? Because that's starting to seem pretty unrealistic, and kind of a bait and switch, given that the season began with an ugly racial incident involving ad men.added: Weiner speaks.