It’s a Valentine’s Day episode, and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant has done something brilliant — she’s pulled the costumes into couples. Witness Don and Sally, who mirror each other twice: Once in their first scenes of the episode, when Don sports his blue plaid bathrobe in his empty apartment, and Sally wears her own plaid housecoat in her dorm room. You’ll notice as well that, on the bed, Sally’s friend sports a quilted night dress much like Betty’s… while Sally wears pajama pants. The father-daughter duo coordinate again in their last scene together, where the Drapers wear shades of gray — the color of both moral ambiguity and cigarette ashes.
At the office, there’s another costume comparison: Peggy and Dawn. Dawn’s navy blazer and broad Peter Pan neckline follow Peggy’s serious (yet slightly schoolgirl) take on office attire. Is Dawn doing it on purpose? We might never know, but she did get a new office this episode… Did you see how she smiled when she sat behind her new desk? It seemed like a callback to Peggy sitting in Don’s chair at the end of Season 6. Dawn also reminds me a bit of this famous Glamour College cover from 1968, which features model Katiti Kironde in a crisp white shirt and polished scarf — a very Dawn ensemble, indeed.
A host of eccentric characters populated Hooterville, the fictional setting of the hit 1960s TV sitcom Green Acres about a lawyer named Oliver Wendell Douglas who flees New York City to pursue his pipe dream of rural life. Hooterville’s daffy denizens included Sarah, the elderly switchboard “oppa-ray-TOR” who tended to turn calls through the town’s antiquated party-line system into a variation on the telephone game.
In the character’s debut episode, Sarah (played with guileless gusto by Merie Earle) began her day by patching her percolator in to the switchboard slots for two neighboring towns — perhaps the reason she misdirected all her subsequent calls. She also insulted her new boss at the Hooterville Phone Company, Mr. Douglas (played by Eddie Albert), who’d purchased the enterprise from Sarah’s brother, Roy, only to learn he’d acquired a dilapidated, money-losing operation. To the annoyance of Mr. Douglas, Sarah never rose above her initial level of incompetence.
Behind every great Mad man, there’s a great secretary. SC&P would be nothing without the women (and men) who keep the office running behind the scenes. Now, in honor of Secretaries Day (or in today’s lingo, “Administrative Professionals’ Day”), those hard workers are getting their time in the spotlight. Play Mad Men‘s Name That Secretary quiz and see if you can remember who Pete’s first secretary was, who catches Peggy smoking marijuana, and who Miss Blankenship served first.
Q: Is there a Joan line or scene that you feel like best sums up her character?
A: I think a scene that sums up where Joan is at now is that beautiful tableau in the Season 6 Finale when they all move out of the offices upstairs, and it’s all the partners looking out on the horizon. She’s standing there with the big boys in the middle of all of them, and she’s standing where she should be.
Q: Once, Joan might have been seen as a traditionalist, but she’s used some highly nontraditional methods to advance her career. Are you still surprised by any decisions the character makes?
A: Not really, and I’d been given advance warning about the [Jaguar] storyline about two years before, so I wasn’t surprised. I’m not really surprised when anyone does anything. It takes a lot to shock me. [Laughs] To me, it’s very human and very real to make difficult choices.
Q: Whose story line besides your own are you most looking forward to knowing the resolution of?
In his 1969 inaugural address, Richard Nixon said, “We find ourselves rich in goods but ragged in spirit.” That sentiment might apply to Don Draper and Megan’s new mega-TV, and it isn’t the only thing Nixon’s ceremony shares with the Season 7 Premiere: They’re both draped from start to finish in red, white, and blue:
• Ken’s first office tantrum frames him in white, Joan in royal blue, and Clara in blood red.
• Megan’s casual Canyon costume is a men’s tuxedo shirt (braless), a lipstick-red scarf, and a turquoise necklace with bell bottom blue jeans.
• Peggy and Stan’s coffee-pot pow-wow puts them in maroon and white (her) and red and indigo (him).
• Pete’s Lacoste polo is baby blue, and his over-the-shoulders sweater is cream with cherry red and navy striping. His checked trousers match.
• Bonnie Whiteside (a ringer for Betty Draper) is in a hot pink and white printed jumpsuit.
• Roger’s brunch tie features an appropriately psychedelic paisley print in red, white, and blue.
• On the plane, Lee Cabot (in a precursor to Diane von Furstenberg’s 1974 wrap dress) is draped in navy and beige. Her plane blanket is the color of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup can.
• Peggy’s final outfit is a perfect match for the American flag — and it’s even got military detailing on the front!
Q: You juggle, Ken tap dances; any other hidden talents lurking within the cast of Mad Men that haven’t made it to the screen?
A: I’m sure [Jon] Hamm has a whole raft of talents. He’s one of those guys that can do anything… Juggling is pretty easy. It looks harder than it is. The hard thing about it is doing it when the camera is turned on and not screwing it up long enough to say the line… Aaron Staton’s tap-dancing, that was really impressive. Tap dancing with the cane and the eye patch. [Laughs] That’s not easy. He was dancing with one leg and one eye.
Q: You directed “A Tale of Two Cities,” the episode at a pool party in the Hollywood hills. What was the most memorable part of directing that episode?
A: It was raining torrentially. It was literally three solid days of rain, so what you see there is actually kind of a miracle… Whenever it would stop raining, we’d run outside the house and shoot whatever we could and made it look like it was a beautiful day in Hollywood. It was actually a really s—-y day in Encino. [Laughs]… There were 50 or 60 extras, and I was acting in it at the same time. It was a lot…
Q: Yet you laugh about it…
A: The whole thing made me laugh. The writing was so funny, from the plane ride out there to Rich Sommer’s character pulling up in the car, was to me just hilarious, and Danny Strong… We also got to use a Steadicam for the first time in the show’s history. We’ve never done that. And we pitched the idea to Matthew Weiner because Don had that whole trippy hash scene where he sees Megan and then they go walking and then he bumps into the soldier and all that.
Q: Roger had a great monologue last season about life being a series of doorways to nowhere. What were your thoughts when you read that scene?
This week, The Daily Beast gets Jon Hamm’s thoughts on “Time Zones,” while Neve Campbell and Joel Murray talk to Vulture about popping up in the Season 7 premiere. Plus, Elisabeth Moss likens Peggy to The Good Wife‘s Diane Lockhart. Read on for more:
• Jon Hamm tells The Daily Beast that, in the season premiere’s last scene, he thinks Don is “trying to feel… Something. It’s an image that is arresting, but it’s also a moment when he is alone.”
• Neve Campbell made a surprise appearance in the season premiere and talked to Vulture, The Daily Beast and Entertainment Weekly about taking a plane ride with Jon Hamm. The New York Times examines other familiar faces that have shown up on Mad Men over the years, while People checks out Campbell’s most memorable roles.
Richard M. Nixon was sworn in as the 37th U.S. president on Jan. 20, 1969. Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the United States, administered the oath of office in front of assembled dignitaries including outgoing president Lyndon B. Johnson and his vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey. Nixon had defeated Humphrey in the previous November’s presidential election, and Humphrey’s loss was widely interpreted as a repudiation of Johnson’s conduct with the Vietnam War.
As Nixon wrote in one of his memoirs, peace — both domestic and international — was the main theme of his 17-minute inaugural address, which referenced the ongoing Cold War against communism, the Vietnam conflict and racial turmoil. In one of the speech’s oft-quoted passages, Nixon sampled Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address, suggesting that good things transpire when Americans listen to “the better angels of our nature.” Referencing antiwar and civil rights protests, like the acts of defiance that took place in the nation’s capital immediately before and after the inauguration, Nixon declared that Americans should “lower our voices.” Nixon promised that in response, the U.S. government under his administration would listen better.
Mad Men returned on Sunday night with a bang, as viewers caught up with Don, Megan and the rest of the gang. If you missed the excitement, amc.com is now streaming the full Season 7 Premiere, “Time Zones,” online. This is the ONLY episode being made available without a log-in requirement. Future episodes of Mad Men will be available on amc.com the day after broadcast and accessible via log-in for select cable providers.
Q: Thinking back to Season 1, did you ever dream Peggy would be in the position she is now?
A: Definitely not. I thought maybe she would be a copywriter, which technically she still is. Only she’s the copy chief. I never really thought that the show would go for seven seasons. None of us were thinking that long-term.
Q: Do you ever feel a personal sense of pride for what Peggy has accomplished?
A: I’m extremely proud of her. I think she’s gotten super cool and a little bit badass, and I think she’s really strong and smart. And I think I’ve always been protective of her.
Q: What was it like filming the scene in the Season 6 Finale where Peggy sits at Don’s desk?