Mad Men, Season 3

Week 1: How Don Draper Is Like Hannibal Lecter
Talking television.
Aug. 18 2009 10:52 AM

Mad Men, Season 3

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Week 1: How Don Draper Is Like Hannibal Lecter

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men. Click image to expand.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men

I agree, Julia, the flashbacks have a hokey flatness. After the sleek lines of Sterling Cooper, the sets in these interludes look like some cast-off Dustbowl diorama from the Smithsonian. It's as if the show's otherwise fastidious production designers take a sick day anytime the script calls for another dollop of the founding allegory.

And well they might, because, really, aren't the writers laying it on a bit thick? If Don's pedigree gets any more debased, he'll make Freddy Krueger (heretofore the title holder for most twisted origin myth) look like a veritable Dyckman. This is sort of the Lost problem, isn't it? The cooler the riddle at the center of your show, the more of a letdown it's going to be when you explain it. I'm sorry to liken Don to yet another homicidal maniac, but it's the same deal with Hannibal Lecter. In Silence of the Lambs, he's fascinating because he's inscrutable—his pathology is never explained. And then in the later films we learn about the childhood trauma and the death of his sister and blah blah blah. It's possible to over-explain a character and kill the magic. I really hope that doesn't happen to Don.

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I could go on, but it's time to make the donuts. What we haven't discussed, and really must next week, is the enigmatic Peggy Olson. She's got a new 'do and a new view and, best of all, a passive-aggressive secretary, Lola, who spends too much time lollygagging with Mr. Moneypenny. I, for one, am seriously looking forward to watching Peggy crack the whip.

Till next week,
Patrick

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