Mad Men

This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of "Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. The first time I saw Jon Hamm as Don Draper, I thought, "This character has the saddest eyes I've ever seen." With each passing season it becomes increasingly clear that I read them wrong. It wasn't sadness I saw in Draper's eyes. It was fear. More accurately, it was fear held at bay.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of "Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. Except for the lamentable absence of Roger Sterling, "The Summer Man" was one of just two true ensemble episodes this season (the debut was the other). Characters that are usually locked into their own narrative boxes broke free and roamed through one another's territory; the show even managed to integrate Don and Betty's worlds, previously as rigidly demarcated as North and South Korea.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of "Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. Like all good TV dramas, “Mad Men” has the memory of an elephant, quoting a remembered line or gesture from a previous episode in a way that subtly reminds you of what has changed.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. Great films and TV series tend to distill in the memory to a particular type of camera shot.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. Ah. That’s more like it. After the stumbling mish-mash of last week’s “The Good News,” Matthew Weiner’s series rallied with one of its finest episodes yet, “The Rejected.” Directed by cast member John Slattery (a.k.a. Roger Sterling) and co-written by Bret Johnson (a former writer’s assistant on the series), the hour showcased many of the program’s greatest virtues while banishing its more self-defeating tendencies.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. An episode of a post-"Sopranos" quality cable series often focuses less on the plot and more on the psychology of its characters, the sociology of its setting, and a vividly evoked sense of place. That's why, when fellow viewers ask me to name a "best" episode of such programs, I am often not sure what to say. On a show like "Mad Men," the individual chapters are all of a piece.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. The second "Mad Men" episode of this season, "Christmas Comes But Once a Year," finds nearly all the major characters grappling with growing feelings of powerlessness. Basically, those people who have clout get the presents, and those who don't wind up humiliating themselves in a goofy red suit.

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This is the first in TNR’s weekly series of "Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. “The world is so dark right now,” says Don Draper’s soon-to-be latest conquest in “Public Relations,” the first episode in Season Four of “Mad Men,” which premiered Sunday night. She’s talking about the change in the country’s mood, which was triggered by John F. Kennedy’s assassination (covered in Season Three’s penultimate episode, “The Grown Ups”). But she may as well be talking about the show itself.

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Mad Muppets

Playing off the peculiar yet vaguely awesome news that "Sesame Street" is planning to parody "Mad Men" in an episode of its upcoming 40th-anniversary season, the folks at Flavorwire have cast ten Muppets as their Sterling Cooper counterparts. Several choices are inspired--such as the choice of Bert and Ernie to play Harry Crane and Ken Cosgrove--but I confess that I see Pete Campbell as more of an evil Scooter. And the Don Draper choice is all wrong: Only Sam the Eagle has the sexual charisma to pull that off. --Christopher Orr

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