Going to California

881725c2-22c6-9719-d256-7a86d0d9da6d_Mad Men_Plane_Staircase_Jon_0223_V2Based on the ads, this final season of Mad Men involves a lot of plane travel to the Golden State. I couldn’t help but think of Laverne and Shirley’s disastrous move to L.A. in their eponymous sitcom. I know, the journey is mostly metaphorical. And indeed most of the cast was left in New York City, in dreary January, 1969, just as Richard Nixon was being sworn in.

Freddie Rumson (Joel Murray) is always a pleasure to see and what better way to open the season than with him? The shot of Freddie giving the Accutron pitch reminded me of the long-shot opening of The Godfather. Just one man talking (though in this case the camera pans out). As Willa Paskin over at Slate writes, “Long before the last sequence revealed that Freddie Rumsen is using Don as his ad-savant Cyrano, we (and maybe Peggy) should have known: Freddie has never given a pitch as great as that Accutron one in his whole life.” Don surreptitiously writing the pitch was like the retired Johnny Carson occasionally writing David Letterman’s jokes.

Don is fighting to stay sober, trying to curtail his peccadilloes. Will it last? I doubt it—the drinking made Draper who he was, for better and for worse. In this first episode, he was rather muted. That can’t possibly last.

I do hope we see more of Neve Campbell—I suddenly realize Party of Five was a very long time ago.

And yes, the Megan Draper-Sharon Tate conspiracy proceeds apace. We hear the sounds of coyotes, which is creeping out Don. But as I mentioned to the Mrs., her home reminds me of where the Manson murders occurred, in Bel Air. And as Willa Paskin informs us, “Helter Skelter, the true-crime book about the Manson murders, opens by observing how oddly sound travels in the canyons, just as Megan does. Creepy!”

Photo credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

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