Stars: John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, Jared Harris, John Slattery, January Jones, Jessica Pare, Robert Morse, Aaron Staton, Rich Sommer, Kiernan Shipka
Writer: Matthew Wiener & Frank Pierson, Series created by Matthew Wiener
Director: John Slattery
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights
Original Telecast: April 15, 2012
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat about MAD MEN…I HATE Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). Part of that is because he is such a loathsome character, and part is because I’ve never been fond of the actor playing him. I will freely admit that the first place I encountered Kartheiser was on ANGEL…he played the lead character’s grown up somewhat feral son Conner, and that character never worked for me. You can’t help but develop a hatred of an actor based on hating the one role you’ve seen them in (so it’s really not his fault). Then Pete Campbell comes along and is a character you are supposed to hate, so I still am not a fan in any sense.
The irony of “Signal 30” is that John Slattery, who plays my favorite character Roger Sterling, is the director of this episode, and the episode focuses on Roger’s least favorite person in the world. This is pretty much an episode showing different sides of Pete Campbell. I feel almost like this is a funerary notice; as if this is one last dose of just how hideous a person Pete is before he gets hit by a bus or shoots himself with that rifle he’s had for multiple seasons.
The opening dinner party with everyone coming to Pete and Trudy’s (Alison Brie) in the suburbs just makes Pete look like a big drunken floating head with a bad comb over. He’s never been one to be believably gracious in social settings, and he just seems like he’s way out of his depth with Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Pare). All of this is punctuated with his inadequacies with the sink. Honestly, I’ve just never felt that Pete had a sincere bone in his body…and that seems so glaring through this entire episode.
Pete in the driver’s education is an interesting dive into the pedophile side of his personality with him trying to pick up a high school girl who of course gets it on with a much more attractive and age appropriate guy. I do so enjoy seeing Pete taken down a few notches.
Plus he gets the s**t kicked out him by Lane (Jared Harris), after he calls Lane a “homo” and asks why he still is working at the firm when he basically does nothing. This is the second ass kicking that a senior member of the staff has offered to give Pete (1st was Roger) and it was so lovely to see him get pounded. I think Lane’s description of him as a grimy little pimp is also bang on the money.
And….who would’ve seen Don Draper behaving himself in a whorehouse?! Not only did Don abstain, but he also turned into the voice of reason and Pete’s own personal Jiminy Cricket during the cab ride home. While Don’s behaviors in the past seasons have not made him my favorite character; I am slowly starting to give him grudging respect in the way that he has turned his entire life around.
Last but not least are Lane and Joan (Christina Hendricks) going to hook up? She’s newly single and might need a male hand with the baby eventually, and he’s been forced back into his loveless marriage by his overbearing and abusive father….so who knows?
Well that’s it for now; or at least until Pete decided to do us all a favor and takes a long walk off of a short pier.
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Related Link: TV Review – MAD MEN – Season 5 – “Mystery Date”
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Article: TV Review – MAD MEN – Season 5 – “Signal 30”