Mad Men Episodes

2007, TV Show

Mad Men Episode: "Public Relations"

Season 4, Episode 1
Episode Synopsis: In the Season 4 opener, Don's reluctance to talk about himself jettisons a prestigious trade-paper interview that the company was hoping would be a boon to business. Meanwhile, the "wholesome" manufacturer of two-piece swimsuits wants to hire the firm but doesn't want a sexy ad campaign; Pete and Peggy stage a stunt in an effort to secure more money from a meat-company client; and Roger plays Cupid for Don.
Original Air Date: Jul 25, 2010
Guest Cast Paul Bartholomew: Bob Finley Christopher Stanley: Henry Francis Anna Camp: Bethany Van Nuys Veronica Taylor: Eleanor Francis Blake Bashoff: Mark Kearney Alyson Croft: Stacy Pamela Dunlap: Pauline Francis Erin Cummings: Candace Matt Long: Joey Baird Jack Laufer: Frank Keller Cathy Ladman: Gladys Norma Maldonado: Celia Ron Perkins: Jim Hartsdale
Full Episode
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Season 4, Episode 1
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Length: 47:10
Aired: 7/25/2010
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Mad Men Episode Recap: "Public Relations" Season 4, Episode 1

"Who is Don Draper?" — Jack Hammond, of Advertising Age

And just like that, Mad Men opens its fourth season with a meta wink at its audience. The truth is, however, that even after three seasons of watching the show, viewers might be just as flummoxed as Don when trying to come up with an answer to that question. Because Don Draper — the successful ad man who, at the start of this season, has made a splash for himself and  his new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, with a fancy floor wax commercial that looks more like a movie than an ad — is nothing more than a shadow, a creation.

The show's history has taught us that Don Draper isn't Don Draper at all, but Dick Whitman, a guy from the Midwest who finds it impolite to talk about himself. Every meaningful glimpse into Don's history has come from flashbacks of him leaving behind his old life to become someone else entirely. And despite his best efforts to keep his true self hidden from his wife, the secret came out, ending the Draper marriage. At the same time, the empire Don built for himself at Sterling Cooper came tumbling down, forcing him to build something of his own.

That's a heck of a fresh start. With all those layers stripped away, perhaps this season might finally answer the question it poses in the opening moments of this episode. But the exploration won't be any less troubling, as we've seen already that Don Draper in November 1964 (or at least the man wearing his suit) is still as dark and mysterious as he was when Season 3 wrapped. But by the end of this episode, he makes a choice about the man Don Draper is going to be, for better or worse.

"Creatively, Y&R is not capable of living in this neighborhood? You know why? Because you don't work there." — Pete Campbell

That's not to say that Don's life is terrible. He and his pals at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce have moved into new space at the Time-Life building. (Two floors, if a client or a member of the press is asking.) And Don is certainly the star of the show. Pete is a bigger brown-nose than ever. Clients tell Don how wonderful he is rather than the other way around. ("I can't tell who the client is here," Roger quips during a meeting with a pair of prudish swimsuit makers. More on them in a bit.) And Don's on the front page of Advertising Age.

But, like always, everything's not as grand as it seems. Don's pretty much carrying SCDP on his shoulders, Betty, now married to Henry Francis, still hasn't moved out of the Ossining house , even though her deadline was October 1. Don's somewhat regularly paying a hooker for to slap him around in the bedroom. And that Ad Age cover story? Don's secretive nature, or modesty if you will, came across as arrogant and the article didn't keep the buzz around the new firm going, according to Cooper. Or as Roger puts it: "You turned all the Sizzle from Glo-Coat into a wet fart." (Man, I've missed Roger Sterling's one-liners.)

Worse, Horace Cook Jr. (remember Hoho from Season 3?) has decided to take his jai alai account elsewhere because Don didn't mention him in the article. "I don't know what I could have done differently. My work speaks for me," Don protests. "Turning creative success into business is your work. And you've failed," Cooper counters.

"See her this weekend. If you hit it off, come Turkey Day maybe you can stuff her." Roger Sterling

Because Roger has always been able to get to Don in a way that others haven't, he sets him up on a date to get Don out of his bachelor pad. And even though Bethany (played by True Blood's Anna Camp) looks an awful lot like I imagine Betty did when Don first met her, she also sees the world in a way that at least has Don intrigued. Over their respective plates of chicken Kiev, Don and Bethany discuss her role as a supernumerary in the opera, as well as the recent death of Andrew Goodman, a civil rights activist in Mississippi. The latter of which nicely echoes what Don says to the news that Roger's wife, Jane, has made setting Don up with someone her personal cause. "And there are so many real problems in the world," Don says. Don and Bethany seem to enjoy one another's company enough to have fun despite the weighty conversation, as Don is "grabby" in the cab ride afterward. Bethany refuses Don's advances, but makes plans to see Don again on New Year's Eve.

"Believe me, Henry. Everybody thinks this is temporary." Don Draper

On the flip side, Don's divorce is as ugly as one might imagine. Don clearly doesn't want to pay the mortgage and insurance and taxes on the old house, but he also tells his lawyer he's not interested in starting World War III. But when returning Bobby and Sally to the house after their weekend, Don raises the subject. He tells her she needs to move out or start paying rent. Betty, who maintains that she can't uproot the kids after all they've been through, is incensed when Henry takes Don's side, arguing that she should at least be looking for a new place. "He doesn't get to decide," she says.

"We are all here because of you. All we want to do is please you." Peggy Olson

All of Don's frustration at home and with work comes out, as usual, on Peggy. This time, it's somewhat deserved. When Sugarberry Hams are displeased with SCDP's work in four test markets, Pete and Peggy fear they will lose the client. So, they cook up a scheme to stage a scene: Two women fight over the last ham, and one of Pete's buddies gets the picture in the Daily News. The plan is great, until one of the ladies assaults the other, and Peggy has to ask Don for their bail/hush money.

Even though the plan works (Peggy even gets Sugarberry to increase their media budget by turning the headlines into their new slogan, "Our hams are worth fighting for"), Don still scolds her. "You run something like that by me first. I would have kept you from looking like an idiot, or worse yet, making me look like one. Is that what you want? You want people to think we're idiots, Peggy?" But when Don warns Peggy to think more about the image of the company, Peggy shows us that she's done a bit of growing up. She's no longer Don's whipping girl. "Nobody knows about the ham stunt," she says. "So our image remains pretty much where you left it."

"Well, gentleman, you were wondering what a creative agency looks like? Well, there you have it. Hope you enjoyed looking in the window." — Don Draper

Peggy's sass and the dealings with the Jantzen clients finally push Don over the edge. At their initial meeting, the client tells Don they want to sell more bikinis without showing more skin. Don yells at Pete for wasting his time with prudes, but spends a few days coming up with a campaign. The idea he presents — which shows a woman with a black bar across her top that reads, "So well built we can't show you the second floor" — doesn't sit well with the client. They say not seeing the top at all is more suggestive and not wholesome.

"Your competitors are going to keep killing you because you're too scared of the skin your two-piece was designed to show off," Don snaps before kicking them out of his office. Roger tries to calm Don, but it's in that moment that Don fully takes on the burden of building the agency up. He sets up a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, and this time, modesty is cast aside. When asked if Donald Draper is the man that makes the agency what it is, Don replies: "Yes. Last year, our agency was being swallowed whole. I realized I had two choices. I could die of boredom or holster up my guns. So, I walked into Lane Pryce's office, and I said, fire us."

The musical cue (The Nashville Teens' "Tobacco Road') was perfect for the closing shot, and interjects the exact same kind of energy into this season as the Season 3 finale did for the whole show. I like Don's new take-charge approach, and I hope it leads to more of the brilliance we saw in the boardroom during Seasons 1 and 2. 

Welcome back, Mad Men.

A few other thoughts:
• Anyone who has read this blog over the past two seasons knows how much I love Roger Sterling. So, I can hardly imagine what kind of book he might be writing. If only I could read it. Another great line from him, about the Ad Age reporter who has a wooden leg from fighting in Korea: "They're so cheap they couldn't even hire a whole reporter."

• Joan has an office! And she's still the brains of the operation. She also had a great line when promising the hilariously sunburned Harry that she would keep his news about the jai alai TV special a secret: "I won't even tell anybody after it's aired."

• I don't love Henry Francis, but I adore his mother, who is clearly not happy that her son has married Betty. "She's a silly woman. How can you stand to live in that man's dirt?" she says. I hope we get much more of her.

• In their first scene together, Peggy and new art guy Joey (The Deep End and Jack and Bobby's Matt Long) are referencing "John and Marsha" by Stan Freberg. Have a listen here. Also, I like the new guy and his relationship with Peggy. But I miss Sal.

• Speaking of relationships: What do you think of Peggy's new "fiancé"?

• Unlike other moody and contemplative Mad Men premieres, this one was fast-paced and peppered with dialogue. My head was spinning the first time I watched it through. A second viewing, as usual with this show, is a must.

So, what did you think of the premiere? I look forward to reading your takes on the show all summer long. Share all your thoughts and comments below!

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"Who is Don Draper?" — Jack Hammond, of Advertising Age

And just like that, Mad Men opens its fourth season with a meta wink at its audience. The truth is, however, that even after three seasons of watching the show, viewers might be just as flummoxed as Don when trying to come up with an answer to that question. Because Don Draper — the successful ad man who, at the start of this season, has made a splash for himself and  his new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, with a fancy floor wax commercial that looks more like a movie than an ad — is nothing more than a shadow, a creation.

The show's history has taught us that Don Draper isn't Don Draper at all, but Dick Whitman, a guy from the Midwest who finds it impolite to talk about himself. Every meaningful glimpse into Don's history has come from flashbacks of him leaving behind his old life to become someone else entirely. And despite his best efforts to keep his true self hidden from his wife, the secret came out, ending the Draper marriage. At the same time, the empire Don built for himself at Sterling Cooper came tumbling down, forcing him to build something of his own.

That's a heck of a fresh start.... read more

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Premiered: July 19, 2007, on AMC
Rating: TV-14
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Premise: A look at the high-powered world of advertising in 1960s New York City, from the boardroom to the bedroom.

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