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Monday Morning Notebook: Ugly Nights

By admin Published: September 15, 2008

Watched great quantities of two football games this weekend: OSU-USC and Browns-Steelers. Each was, in its own special way, ugly ball. The college game was a blowout, the pro one a mishmash of poor play by both sides -- although the Browns ended up on the short end of the score and management skills, with Al Michaels offering an increasing amount of astonishment and indignation over the Browns' decision-making as the game slipped away from them. And, in both cases, a lot of TV hours that now feel as if they were poorly spent.

Another kind of ugly over at "Mad Men" on Sunday, as you can see in this clip:

In the episode a week ago, the currents of the times were shown as leaning more toward a "just be" or "let it be" philosophy, while Don was presented yet again as someone who cannot just be. He has re-created himself, built a glittering edifice of a life, but it's never quite enough for him, so he is drawn toward more glittering prizes, whether that's bedding Bobbie or buying a car that doesn't suit him (or his life). Last night's show was tremendously about not trying to overstep your role in life. Joan was very good at handling the TV advertising, but it's not a role anyone will let her fill. Peggy thought she was finally being seen as someone of expertise and value, but in the context of her church, her skills go unnoticed. Indeed, Father Gill's chat at her office suggests that he was never all that interested in her help; he was more interested in establishing a better connection from which he could help her. (And, though it's never said, you have to think that the church ladies know the gossip -- and are going to be suspicious of anything coming from fallen Peggy that doesn't leave room for the Holy Ghost.)

But, of course, Don appears about the pay the biggest price for overreaching. I thought for a long stretch there that Betty was about to descend into gun-toting madness again. Instead, she had achieved a perfect lucidity, both in the "embarrassed me" speech and in her confrontation about Don's latest affair.

More about this later.

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