Pat Clark

April 17, 2014

Clark: “Mad Men” opens final season down in the dumps

Maybe they should rename it “Sad Men.”

Maybe they should rename it “Sad Men.”

And women. The women are sad, too, as the new season of “Mad Men” opened Sunday night. If the episode is languishing on your DVR and you haven’t watched it yet, skip the next several paragraphs to avoid spoilers (see Marijke Rowland’s column on E6 for more on that theme).

At the center of “Sad Men” is Don Draper, who remains separated from his ad agency and pretty much separated from his second wife, Megan, given their bicoastal marriage and the awkward reunion visit that reunites viewers with Don.

Megan is giving her acting career a go in Los Angeles. Don’s firm has a new office in the City of Angels, too, but he’s not part of it. He’s also not part of the mother office back home in New York, having been asked to take some time off by the partners. And that is what he’s doing – so far as the people at the office know about, anyway.

Don actually is feeding Sterling Cooper & Partners with ad campaigns via a fired but now freelancing ad man named Freddy Rumsen. But the guy who has taken over Don’s office, Lou Avery, is too stupid and lazy to listen to anyone’s ideas but his own bad ones.

Which brings us to maybe the saddest person of all at Sterling Cooper & Partners, Peggy. She has climbed the ladder in a man’s world, has almost as much ad-writing talent as her mentor, Don, but can’t get Avery to pay any attention to her ideas. Avery clearly would just rather Peggy get him coffee – hold the sugar – than ad campaigns.

Add to that the unceremonious dumping she took by partner Ted at the end of last season and it’s easy to understand why Peggy breaks down in tears. Ted now is working in the L.A. office, but is visiting New York in this episode.

Peggy can’t even look at Ted. It’s another awkward romance-gone-awry moment of the week. Of course, in keeping with the theme, Ted is miserable in L.A., too.

And don’t even get me started on what Roger is doing to try to climb out of his own pit of aging despair.

Oh, Pete is happy in L.A., but who really cares about Pete? The character could disappear and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Or is that just me?

All this sadness lays the groundwork for the beginning of the end of “Mad Men,” the final season to be split into two parts.

It doesn’t exactly bode well for a happy ending. But it does promise more superbly written and acted drama as this stellar show begins to bid adieu to the airwaves and to the 1960s era that it has spanned.

Remember last year when it kind of felt like the summer of Pharrell?

It kind of feels like that never really ended, doesn’t it? Now, we’ve embarked on the spring of Pharrell.

Pharrell Williams – who was not only producer and contributing vocalist on the official song of the summer for 2013, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” but also joined Daft Punk on what was arguably the No. 2 song of last summer, “Get Lucky” – has been on the radio, on the charts or somewhere in the pop culture consciousness pretty much ever since.

Currently, the singer and producer (of such artists such as Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z and many more, mind you) has his own song taking over the airwaves, “Happy,” and it would be the obvious song of the summer choice for 2014 if it hadn’t peaked so early.

Then again, who knows how long this kicky little positive tune might stay strong? It’s No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been at the top or near it for weeks.

But this latest hit hasn’t been the only thing going on for Pharrell. “Happy” was nominated for an Academy Award from the 2013 film “Despicable Me 2.” Recently, it was announced he will be a coach for “The Voice” in its seventh season.

And he’s got that cool Smokey the Bear hat.

I’ll admit, “Happy” makes me – come on, what else can I say – happy when I hear it. Who can resist singing along with the chorus of this peppy little tune?

As earworms go, and it does get in my head and stay there, I’ll take this one over just about any other song out there right now.

Pharrell, 40, seems like a natural for “The Voice,” too. He has been producing talent for years along with Chad Hugo under the moniker The Neptunes. He is lead vocalist and drummer for N.E.R.D. He has seven Grammy wins under his talented belt, including two for “Get Lucky,” and even has his own clothing line.

According to an Associated Press story, he already was an adviser to team Usher on Season 4 of “The Voice” and performed the song “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke on the show last May.

No wonder the dude is so “Happy.”

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