Monday, April 8, 2013

'Mad Men' Season Six Premiere: Of Death, Dante, Sex and Puking

All photos credit: Michael Yarish/AMC
If you were enticed by the live ACM Awards or that Throne of Games show Sunday night, or just wanted to watch the one-year-delayed, season-opening episode of Mad Men on AMC without being distracted by engaging in social media (and really, who does that anymore?), you missed some rousing and provocative Twitter commentary during the broadcast. And not necessarily by the Big Glowing Box guy, although my live Tweets throughout the show have been compiled and are reprinted below.

This was a true modern-day television event, although early feedback suggests some viewers were less than thrilled by the episode. "Disappointed" is a word I've seen used like a mantra after the two-hour return called "The Doorway." I have a theory (actually three) as to why that may be.

In this strange new TV age where "season premieres" seemingly take place every weekend, audiences aren't used to waiting a year to see new episodes of anything, even a show with the obvious quality and attention to detail that Mad Men emanates. Or, after winning four consecutive Emmys as the best drama on television, the show has set its own bar so impossibly high that viewers expect nothing less than Eugene O'Neill perfection. Every week, please.

Or (and this is my personal favorite), creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner, like every one of us, is a creature of habit. The downside of having a megahit show is that sometimes networks ask you to create a two-hour "special" episode when you've been accustomed to building one-hour story arcs for years. Flow, pacing and story development can be victims of process. Longer doesn't always mean better, though I'm sure Don Draper would disagree.

And speaking of our favorite tortured antihero, we may never know how he responded to that blonde who asked, "Are you alone?" at the end of Season Five. Sunday's episode – after a jarring anachronism to begin the show – finds Draper and wife Megan on the beach in Hawaii. After Lane Pryce's in-office suicide last season and the passing of Roger Sterling's mom in this episode, Don's clearly searching for the meaning of life and death: I think he's determining that it's sex.

Here, with a few embellishments for clarity and to break free of 140-character bondage, is the compilation of our running Twitter commentary beginning at 9 p.m. EST Sunday, April 7 on AMC:

(8:59) Time to begin @MadMen_AMC tweeting! As Matthew Weiner said in season preview: We left in the summer of '67: nothing but chaos in the U.S after that.

CPR on a doorman? Not quite the #MadMen opening scene I expected.

Now this is more appropriate: Draper reading 'Dante's Inferno.' (He's on a working vacay in Hawaii.)

One review I read today said Jon Hamm doesn't speak a word of dialogue for the first SEVEN MINUTES. Somebody put a stopwatch on this guy! (9:03)

This Hawaii opening beats the heck out of a Manhattan skyscraper, doesn't it? 

Five minutes and counting. Hamm hasn't spoken yet.

Apparently while we were gone, Megan landed a role in a soap opera! At least she's signing autographs! Anyone confirm?

He did it! Don Draper is serving as best man at a total stranger's beach wedding! Never thought of him as a stand-up guy.

Nice to know Betty's still reckless (driving). We need some consistency in these characters. 

I pray Megan never asks me, "How are you feeling?"

It's official: Don Draper's first word of dialogue in 2013, after a seven-minute wait: "Army." I want to be Jon Hamm.

Christina Hendricks in a new Johnny Walker Black commercial? That'll make drunks out of many sober men. #Breathtaking

"She's in the next room. Why don't you go in there and rape her?" Betty, Betty oooooh! Yuck! More class, less crass, please. 

"People are naturally democratic if you give them a chance." Betty: "Are you on dope?" 

The episode is set during the holidays, and they have plumped up January Jones like a Christmas turkey.

First Peggy sighting! (9:28)

First Roger sighting, at 9:30 – thankfully, hilariously, in therapy.

Soldiers cutting off ears in Vietnam? I remember none of this. I do vividly recall  the knee-jerk reactions of real-life ad agencies, tho.

(Retweet from HuffPostTV:) Hey, there's James Wolk playing a SCDP account guy trying to chat up Don. Shades of how a young Draper annoyed Sterling

"I always get two, I don't want to share." Crazy '60s white people.

Are they really smoking dope in the creative bullpen! This IS the '60s! And a black woman secretary, too! Progress!

Don Ho and 'From Here to Eternity' in the same breath? Smooth, Roger. That sums up the mainland's knowledge of Hawaii in the '60s.

"We want that electric jolt to the body. We want eros. It's like a drug. It's not domestic." And there defines Don Draper's life.

Roger's mother died. At 91. And Carolyn is more shattered than he is. "She was always so nice, when she could hear me."

Peggy has become Don Draper with breasts.

This should be good: Don in a photo shoot. But he now realizes he brought back the wrong cigarette lighter from Hawaii.

As much as Don Draper smokes, how could he JUST NOW realize he had that soldier's lighter?

The photographer says to Don, "I want you to be yourself." Yeah, like he knows who THAT is. 

Megan can't attend the funeral of Roger's mother because she has a TV call. That independence is not going to sit will with Don.

Looks like Betty has a new (little) friend.

Roger Sterling is about to have a field day at this funeral.

"Do you want to bury her with this ring?" Roger: "We already burned her up."

Given a choice, you'd probably rather attend a funeral like this drunk like Don.

Wheelchair-bound mourner: "I have a few words to say. I insist." Roger: "Of course. Why don't you roll on over here?"

And Draper upchucks in the umbrella stand! Gotta love this show? Roger: "This is MY funeral! Everybody OUT!"

Now it all comes into focus: this #MadMen premiere is a multifaceted look at death. What a cheery way to begin a season.

My boy Roger: After erupting at his mother's funeral, then momentarily being overcome by grief, he still tries to hit on Mona.

Looks like a jar of pee to me. #RiverJordanWater

"Refrigeration. It's the wave of the future, Daddy." Sounds more like the '40s than the '60s. (10:25)

The doorman's near-death experience at the very top was Don's opportunity to ask, "What did you see?" while you were dead.

"So you'll still love me, even if I'm a lying, cheating whore?" Can't believe that's Megan talking to Don, not vice versa.

"Is marijuana expensive?" Dear Betty, still more guts than brains. Like I said, reckless. (10:32)

"Those workers aren't surprised, because they know that they're lazy." – Betty. Like I said before, Draper with boobs.]

I had no idea Adrien Brody was alive in the '60s. #PeggysBoyfriend (Better comparison, from another Tweeter: Frank Zappa.)

Introducing the Invisible Partner: We've seen more of Christina Hendricks in her booze commercials than in the episode.

"Well, heaven's a little morbid. How do you get to heaven? Something terrible has to happen." Thanks, Don. God, your thoughts?

The Don Draper I remember never would have been so accommodating to clients' dumb comments. Hawaii must do something to a man.

Whoa! Betty as a brunette? Anyone? Anyone? I'm kinda channeling Annette Funicello here.

(Retweet from @NicoleW:) Betty went Veronica.

And now, everyone, a '60s discussion of gay sex.

Oh, no! The obligatory Hawaii vacation slides. Can we return to the gay sex conversation, please?

Can't look at Kevin Rahm without thinking of "Judging Amy." Oh, I did love that show.

Don Draper got very existential in this episode. Don't think his questions are going to be answered anytime soon. 

Somehow sweet to see a rotary-dial phone again.

THERE's the big surprise I'd heard about! I don't believe that's Megan! Don's in bed with his neighbor's wife. Episode had to run to 11:08 to squeeze that in!

And we're off – and Don Draper, like a rabid rabbit, is back in. Thanks, folks. It was fun. 

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