Mad Men, "The Doorway": 17 mind-altering and far out observations

Mad Men's "two-hour movie" of a sixth season premiere was a whole lot of story to take in just as we're finally getting to The '60s part of the 1960s.

mad men the doorway

Here are 17 mind-altering and far out observations about "The Doorway."

  • The last time we saw Burt Peterson (Michael Gaston) was back in the Season Three premiere, "Out of Town," when he was wildly shoveling objects off secretaries' desks and telling everyone to go straight to hell. (A tie-in with Don Draper reading Inferno in an early scene perhaps? Well, probably not.)
  • The look that Peggy's boyfriend Abe Drexler (Charlie Hofheimer) is now sporting reminds me of one of the dudes that Jenny from Forrest Gump does heroin with during her darkest drug-fueled days.
  • Could Roger Sterling be the most entertaining and biggest blowhard character in the history of the television at the same time? I'm going to lean toward a "yes" and further state that John Slattery is a revelation week in and week out amidst a cast lousy with talent.
  • Stan Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson) now looks like he could be a roadie for Stillwater circa Almost Famous. 
  • Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) looks like he's about 18 months out on being ready to appear in the Beastie Boys' video for "Sabotage."
  • It's far too easy to peg Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) as a symbolic member of the Scooby Gang... because that's what he's looking like at this point. Not the Buffy the Vampire version by the way, the real deal. I'm looking forward to a Mystery Van sighting at this point.
  • Marijuana gets named drop as dope and reefer at various points during the episode, but Don (Jon Hamm) gets the prize for saying that it smells like inspiration... but more than anything it's amazing that it's sort of okay for people to openly smoke dope/reefer in the office during the workday.
  • There are several overt reasons to think that Don's drinking may be seriously catching up with him (being carried home by Pete and Kenny reminds of the "legendary" Freddy Rumsen stories ). But a subtle yet telling one comes from his interaction with Bob, the hyper ambitious and sycophantic accounts man. Bob mentions in passing that Don had discussed his familiarity with Pennsylvania with him at a Christmas party, and Don now barely remembers that he knows the guy at all. (Don talking about his past with anyone is something that he still only does in the rarest of circumstances.)  
  • Anytime Mona Sterling (Talia Balsam) shows up on Mad Men it's good thing. And she even gets to one up Roger for once with a fantastic one-liner: "Go soothe yourself."
  • Even though Betty Francis (January Jones) doesn't get treated incredibly well during her field trip to St. Marks Place in New York City's East Village, it's nice to hearken back to a time where squatters might address a woman stopping by with a "ma'am."
  • Speaking of Betty, it's nice to see her having a greater role in the early going, and acting stranger (taunting husband Henry about wanting to "rape" the 15-year old girl, Sandy, staying with them) and more unfathomable (going out of her way to try and help the very same Sandy that she appeared to be wildly and inappropriately jealous of) than ever.
  • Don and Megan showing off pictures of their business trip/vacation to Hawaii reminds of Don's brilliant pitch to Kodak in Season One's "The Wheel."
  • Over the course of two-plus seasons, Stan has grown on me, and Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) too it seems, and it's a pleasure to see them gossiping like old friends over the phone.
  • Speaking of Peggy, one of the glorious revelations of the new season is to see that she'll maintain a major role. And this may even be an ingenious way for Matthew Wiener and crew to inject more advertising and office-related drama into the proceedings.
  • I'm sure we'll see more of Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) in the episodes ahead, but for now his sideburns are a little bit longer and his attitude a little more condescending and smarmy (which is saying something).
  • Kenny Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) doesn't get to do a lot either, but we see him continuing in the direction of looking out for himself – as opposed to being the happy go lucky sort that he was during early seasons – by taking credit for the food that Ambitious Bob sends over to Roger's mother's wake.
  • On a final note, there was an unsettling and insistent shadow of gloom and death imagery throughout much of the episode. And that meshed with Don's ongoing existential ennui, brought to the surface in "The Doorway" by discovering that he had accidentally switched military-issue lighters with a G.I. who was about to go off to fight in the quagmire of Vietnam.

    The word "oblivion" kept coming to mind, and that directly ties to the symbolism of Don's "friend" Dr. Rosen (Brian Markinson) saying that, "people will pay anything to alleviate their anxiety." Don's pitch to Royal Hawaiian expertly taps into the raw human desire to escape displeasure and pain, but it doesn't go over very well at all as a pitch to sell a dream vacation. 

    Could Don Draper be slipping in more ways than one? As he says to Silvia (Linda Cardellini), the good doctor's wife and his latest mistress (apparently Don's long awaited answer to the beautiful woman's question, "Are you alone?" at the end of Season Five was something to the effect of, "Hell yes."), "I don't want to do this anymore."

    He could be talking about a lot of different things at this point.

    What did you think of "The Doorway"? Let us know!

    By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at] 

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