Up to Speed: Mad Men Season 5

 

What: Mad Men on AMC

When: Sundays on AMC, 2-hour season premiere on March 25th

Key Characters;

  • Don Draper- The protagonist of the show and creative director of the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency in New York City.  Don has a shadowy past and his real name is Richard Whitman.  Don stole the identity of Don Draper from his dead commanding officer in Korea and got himself shipped home where he had various jobs like car salesman, working in a fur clothing store and eventually gets himself hired at the Sterling Cooper ad agency.  His inner demons leads to him engaging in heavy drinking, smoking and womanizing, the latter which was a main factor in he and his wife, Betty, getting a divorce.
  • Peggy Olson- Formerly Don’s secretary at the old Sterling Cooper agency, Peggy proved herself to be an extremely talented ad writer and was promoted to copy writer by Don.  When Don and the other partners broke off from Sterling Cooper, Peggy was one of the first people recruited by Don to join the new agency.  Peggy has become increasingly independent and confident as the series as gone on and is now probably the only person Don truly trusts.
  • Pete Campbell- Junior partner at SCDP and an account executive, Pete is one of the other top choices recruited by Don for the new agency.  Pete comes from a privileged background and has a heightened sense of self worth that makes him extremely arrogant at times and he and Don had a rivalry at Sterling Cooper that got to the point where Pete found out Don’s true identity and attempted to blackmail Don into quitting but Bert Cooper, one of the agency’s founders, didn’t care.  Pete is married to Trudy Campbell and the two, after lots of trying, have their first child at the end of Season 4.
  • Roger Sterling- A founding member of SCDP, Roger is the main account executive with his main client being Lucky Strike cigarettes.  Roger was Don’s mentor when Don first arrived at Sterling Cooper and probably influenced Don’s drinking and womanizing habits, as Roger does the same or worse.  Roger cheated on his wife, Mona, earlier in the series and married Don’s secretary, Jane, and also suffered a pair of heart attacks from his drinking and smoking.  Roger has also had a long standing relationship with Joan Harris, but it pretty much ended when they both got married.  Roger also fought in the Pacific during World War II and, as such, has developed an extremely racist view of Asians, which costs SCDP a possible client in Season 4.
  • Joan Harris- Joan is the office manager of SCDP and in charge of the secretaries.  Joan is extremely savvy of client relations and the various office politics that occur and is frequently called in to help charm high profile clients and defuse situations.  Joan is married to Dr. Greg Harris, who attempted to get a surgical job in NYC but was unable to land one and enlisted in the Army to continue his surgical career and is sent to Vietnam.
  • Betty Francis- Don’s ex-wife, currently married to Henry Francis, director of public relations for Governor Rockafeller.  She and Don have three children together, Sally, Bobby and Gene and she is frequently harsh with them, especially Sally, when they don’t conform to her expectations.  Betty and Henry are still living in Draper’s old house, despite the fact that Don legally owns it and wants them to move out, one of the major sources of conflict between Betty and Don through season 4, as well as Don’s relationship with his kids.

Other Characters

  • Bert Cooper- A founder of both Sterling Cooper and SCDP, Bert oversees the big picture of the agency but lets Don and Roger handle the day to day operations.  Bert is fairly eccentric and follows a Japanese style of business and office decor, including forcing people to remove their shoes before coming into his office.
  • Lane Pryce- A British financial officer who was sent by the British buyers of Sterling Cooper to help streamline the budget and operations of the company.  Don and Roger convince Lane to come with them and become a partner of their new agency, which Lane agrees to when he realizes how much he like New York City and the fact that the company wants to basically exile him to India.  Lane “fires” himself, Don, Roger and Bert so that they can get out of their contracts and form their new ad agency.
  • Ken Cosgrove- An account executive at Sterling Cooper who is recruited by SCDP halfway through Season 4, much to the chagrin of Pete, who lost a promotion to Ken at Sterling Cooper.  Ken is an extremely affable and easy going guy, and has no problem working under Pete at SCDP and brings a number of much need clients to the firm.
  • Harry Crane- Head of television advertising at SCDP, Harry manages how the SCDP’s clients products are advertised on television, handles the filming of commercials and attempts to match the right shows to the right product.  Joan becomes his part time assistant and shows a genuine interest in the field but is disappointed when Harry gets an actual secretary.
  • Megan Calvet- Don’s third secretary at SCDP who Don becomes romantically involved with.
  • Dr. Faye Miller- A freelance consultant who is frequently hired by SCDP to help them with market research and who becomes romantically involved with Don.

Major Events

  • Don goes out on dates with Jane Sterling’s young, immature friend, Bethany, drunkenly sleeps with his first secretary Allison (who angrily quits when she sees how apathetic Don is about the situation) and starts serious romantic relationships with Dr. Faye Miler and his third secretary Megan.
  • Don hits rock bottom when he learns his only true friend and confidante, Anna Draper (wife of the “real” Don Draper), dies from cancer.  On the night of a big boxing match, Don does everything he can to avoid returning a call from Anna’s niece, Stephanie, including forcing Peggy to stay at the office all night working on ads and getting black out drunk.  The next morning Don finally calls Stephanie and learns Anna has died, causing him to breakdown in Peggy’s arms and making their bond even stronger.
  • Don and Betty’s already horrible relationship gets even worse when Don demands that Betty and Henry move out their house but allows to stay on the condition that they pay rent.  Betty also tries to limit Don’s contact with his kids, which strains not only their relationship but Betty’s relationship with the kids, especially Sally.  She starts taking Sally to a psychiatrist and inadvertently starts to get analyzed by her as well.
  • Peggy becomes friends with a number of alternative and counter culture people, including Abe, a leftist writer and Joyce, a lesbian Life magazine editor.  She also has a brief relationship with former Sterling Cooper executive, Duck Phillips, who tries to recruit Pete and Peggy to join his new agency.  Peggy ends her relationship with Duck after he drunkenly breaks into the SCDP offices and gets into a fight with Don, who is also drunk.
  • Pete and Trudy, after months of trying, finally get pregnant and have a baby girl at the end of the season.
  • Don wins a major advertising award for one of his ads for Pinesol.
  • Roger loses SCDP it’s biggest client, Lucky Strike cigarettes and tries to hide the fact and scrambles to get new clients to fill the gap, but fails.  With the loss of Lucky Strike, SCDP has to drastically reduce it’s staff, resulting in a number of copy writers and artists getting let go.
  • After he hits rock bottom following Anna’s death, Don cuts back on his alcohol drinking and also writes an impassioned editorial in the New York Times declaring that SCDP will not take any more cigarette companies as clients, angering the other partners but possibly getting SCDP some work from the anti-smoking groups.
  • Roger and Joan go out for a friendly dinner and on the walk home, they’re mugged.  In the adrenaline heightened aftermath, the two have sex and Joan becomes pregnant with what is clearly Roger’s child.  She considers getting an abortion but instead decides to keep the baby and lie to her husband, Dr. Greg, and tells him that it’s his.
  • Don takes his kids and his secretary Megan on a trip to California to finalize the sale of Anna’s house and also visit Disneyland.  While on the trip, Don realizes that he’s in love with Megan and proposes to her, which she accepts.  Don then calls and breaks up with Dr. Miller.
  • Peggy and Ken land a huge client with Topaz Panty Hose that could potentially save the company.

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