Mad Men: Season 1, Episode 13

The Wheel (18 Oct. 2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
9.0
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Don and Betty Draper have an argument when it becomes apparent that he doesn't want to spend Thanksgiving with her family and she plans on going only with the children. He also learns some ... See full summary »

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Storyline

Don and Betty Draper have an argument when it becomes apparent that he doesn't want to spend Thanksgiving with her family and she plans on going only with the children. He also learns some information about his brother Adam. Pete Campbell confirms that he has landed an account from his father-in-law for a new skin care product called Clearasil. He objects however when Don gives the account to Peggy Olson, who he has just been promoted to junior copywriter. Peggy proves her mettle in auditions for the weight loss device but later is feeling unwell and goes to the hospital where she is given some shocking news. Don comes up with a brilliant presentation for Kodak on a new wheel-like storage device for a slide projector that he dubs a carousel. Written by garykmcd

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Drama

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18 October 2007 (USA)  »

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Goofs

When Don and Harry are talking in Don's office late at night, Harry reveals that he was an amateur photographer in college and did a project of hand prints on glass. He then mentions how he was always fascinated with the cave paintings at Lascaux France, especially the "hand prints with paint blown all around". The hand prints he is referring are not at Lascaux but rather are at Pech Merle. See more »

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Joan Holloway: I said congratulations didn't I? Although, sometimes when people get what they want they realize how limited their goals were.
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Featured in The 60th Primetime Emmy Awards (2008) See more »

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A Beautiful Mine
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Written by Rjd2
Performed by Rjd2
Series theme music played over opening credits
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User Reviews

Season 1: Looks good and offers potential but somehow doesn't deliver and, while interesting, doesn't mange to do more than that
6 September 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Mad Men was in my "I should watch that" pile for quite a while, mainly on the strength of the critical response it got and the fact that "grown-up" channel BBC4 picked it up for UK viewers. Starting it for myself I could see straight away all the many good things that has been said about it. It looks very slick and cool and has what I assume to have been the atmosphere of the time within the circles of these advertising agencies – sexist, racist, "proper" and with a clear definition of what success or lack of success is. In this regard the cosmetics of the show are really well done even if they do occasionally feel a bit overdone (with the constant smoking, drinking and other aspects as ever present as the wallpaper in the rooms). This is initially built on by establishing this world as somewhere where the viewer understands the rules, the attitudes and so on, I'm sure they are very simplified and very much a version of the period that is polished by someone not from there but it does still work for what it is and it offers a strong bed to do more with.

And it is at that point within the series as a project that I started to have my problems because it is not as gripping as I would have liked in terms of the characters and the content. It is not a comparison I want to make but coincidentally I am re-watching The Sopranos at the moment (season 2 at the moment) and it has impressed me by how engaging each thread is whether it being just one for that episode or one that spreads across the season; it makes each episode engaging while also building the characters and the bigger plots at the same time. With Mad Men the same doesn't happen even though I could see it trying hard to do it. For some reason it left me a little cold to the characters and the events – even Peggy, who I had assumed would be the "wide-eyed-innocent" device that the show uses to introduce us to this world (she is, but really only for a while). I'm not saying that nothing happens, because that is not the case – we learn the pasts of some of the characters and the true nature of other characters and relationships, there is stuff going on and to a point I found it interesting.

The problem is that I mostly only found it interesting. I didn't really feel like it ever engaged me or made me care like I would normally want to be by a show (not just a drama, I generally want to be engaged in the show rather than just going along with it). Season 1 never managed to do that and I'm not entirely sure why but it never felt different from the first episode – never made me feel like I had grown with the show over the 13 or so episodes or that I cared more as a result of the time put in. It is not the fault of the cast but I just think the writing is not as good as the hype suggested it was. I have read others on IMDb saying how complex and layered it all is but I just didn't see that – the standard things I would expect to see from a 1950's drama are all there and have all been done before even as recently as 2008's Revolutionary Road. That it is doing them again is not a problem but if you are doing something so familiar then you need to do so with something that makes it stand out and Mad Men never convinces me it has that.

Hamm's central turn helps things by virtue of his charisma and the way he can easily do the "I have a troubled back-story" look at a moment's notice. Likewise Moss, Kartheiser, Slattery and others all provide solid turns that suggest they can do more than the material often lets them. Hendricks sticks in the mind the most of the cast but this is mainly down to how well she works her figure and her sex appeal. It all makes the conclusion that bit more annoying because it appears to have quality or the potential for quality across the board but yet somehow the material never manages to do more than bat to first base when I was waiting to see it knock it out the park at some point.

I will return for season 2 at some point but I will not be in a rush on the basis of this. I'm interested to see what happens with the characters, interested to see where they take it from where season 1 left off but that is the problem – I'm only "interested" not emotionally involved or engaged in the plots and characters.


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