So, what else is new? Dick Whitman was named after his father’s dick, Sal finally ends up getting some dick and Pete Campbell is being a dick. They just can’t get enough Dick in the Mad Men season 3 opener. It’s a celebration after all – Don Draper’s birthday, not that anyone is celebrating. Don, being the morose broody type, is reflecting on the peculiar circumstances of his birth. His father fucks a whore without a rubber – never conducive to a quiet life. "You get me in trouble" she warns him "And I’ll cut your dick off and boil it in hog fat”. Yes, or you could just , I don’t know, have a supply of contraceptives handy, you being a professional cocksucker and all. Of course he does get her in trouble and whoremum dies in childbirth. Silver lining, though: the midwife brings the baby round to the childless Mrs Whitman and informs her of the joyous news: your husband put his cock in a prostitute and has delivered unto thee a child."He’s called Dick" she deadpans "After a wish her mother should have lived to see" Dick Whitman grows up to change his name to Don Draper and invent a new history all his own. With a background like this, you can see why.
"’You get me in trouble’ she warns him ‘And I’ll cut you dick off and boil it in hog fat’. Yes, or you could just , I don’t know, have a supply of contraceptives handy, you being a professional cocksucker and all."
But as Don prepares for the arrival of a new baby of his own, things are getting hectic at Stirling Cooper. Having been taken over by the British firm of Toffee, Nosed and Bastards no one knows where to turn. A third of the workforce has been slashed including the head of accounts. Lane Pryce, at the vanguard of the conquering British, offers the new vacancy to Pete Campbell. Back of the net! Pete couldn’t be happier – at last, it’s all coming together like an eyebrow on a Gallagher brother. Oh look, Pryce is chatting to Ken Cosgrove – whatever can he want? He’s offering the now vacant job of head of accounts to him? But wait, I thought…? Didn’t he just..? Oh you treacherous British fucks – can’t you ever play with a straight bat?
"They are playing the two off each other in the hope that one will “distinguish himself" and get the gig all to himself. It’s brute Darwinian mechanics. It’s also divide and confuse – keep the colonials guessing."
Ken thinks it’s hilarious; Campbell fumes. They are playing the two off each other in the hope that one will “distinguish himself" and get the gig solo style. It’s brute Darwinian mechanics. It’s also ‘keep the colonials guessing’ – the limeys didn’t build the biggest empire in history without knowing a thing or two about divide and confuse.
As that little melodrama plays itself out, Don and Sal are on a business trip together, going to Baltimore to suck up to a client who makes raincoats. You can just imagine what hell those two heterosexual guys will be raising in B-more. They wine and dine a couple of air stewardesses. Don takes his back to his hotel room to put his cock in her but Sal is all "don’t fancy mine much" and goes back to his hotel room to put his cock in the bellboy. It was all so sudden – homeboy had just come to air conditioning and like all good porn films things just happened. Finally! Sal got some man loving.
Oh wait I forgot – this is Mad Men where misery is the only constant and disappointment is as assured as the sun rising in the east. Just as the kissing is about to progress to something seriously illegal in the state of Maryland, the hotel fire alarm goes off leaving them more frustrated than Leon Jackson‘s agent. Worse is to come as when Don comes down the fire escape with his piece of ass, he peers in the window and sees Sal and friend looking a right pair of gays . It’s a good job Don Draper can keep a secret. There’s a superb scene on the plane flight home as Don knowingly runs a new slogan by Sal: "Limit Your Exposure". Sal would do well to listen. He’s talking to a guy whose entire life is a lie. And these Baltimore niggas is off the hook.
"It’s a good job Don Draper can keep a secret. There’s a superb scene on the plane flight home as Don knowingly runs a new slogan by Sal: "Limit Your Exposure". Sal would do well to listen. He’s talking to a guy whose entire life is a lie."
Back at Stirling Cooper, Pryce has a little Goebbels running around doing his bidding. Executive secretary John Hooker who refers to himself as Pryce’s "right arm" but the typing pool girls are just calling him Moneypenny and there’s already tension between him and Joan Holloway. She thinks he’s a prissy little bitch. He thinks she’s inappropriate little madam. This much polarity could end up one of those Anglo-American love affairs like Lisa Simpson and Hugh Parkfield, Wesley and Cordelia on Buffy or Hugh Grant and that nausey twat from Four Weddings. Looks like Doc Rapist could have some competition.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. New characters and circumstances haven’t altered Mad Men’s ethic of smiling through your loneliness, burying your pain and facing the world. Everything is unravelling and no one is handling it well. It’s good to have it back.
The best thing about it: Right now, Bryan Batt is hard to beat as big gay Sal.
The worst thing about it: They could have made the portrayal of British cultural stereotypes even more insulting if they’d really tried.
The verdict on Mad Men Season 3 Premiere: Absorbing and assured curtain raiser.
Marks out of 10: 8