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The cast of "Mad Men," from left, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jared Harris, Vincent Kartheiser, Jon Hamm, Robert Morse and Elisabeth Moss. (Frank Ockenfels/CP)
The cast of "Mad Men," from left, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jared Harris, Vincent Kartheiser, Jon Hamm, Robert Morse and Elisabeth Moss. (Frank Ockenfels/CP)

John Doyle: Television

Things that should not happen on Mad Men Add to ...

Mad Men. Don’t get me started.

It returned. Some people were riveted. That’s nice. Me, I worry, I worry about directions the show might take. I worry a lot. I worry about strange and unsettling trends in television. Does the future hold an obligatory column of comment on the sudden explosion of shows about men selling condos or mixing the cement to build those condos? Never can tell. See there are things that should not happen. Especially on Mad Men. So let’s start with that.

I hope, as do all sane and sensible people, that the rise to prominence of the Quebec-born Megan character (Jessica Paré) does not lead to a storyline about Canada being nice, sexy, hopeful, optimistic and oh-so-totally different from the United States. You just never know with Americans, even if they created Mad Men. For instance in Entertainment Weekly’s report on Sunday’s new episode, the following was written about Megan – “Like all French-Canadian women, she’s also perpetually on the edge of becoming a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” Kill me now.

Yes, there was that interesting bit on this season’s opening episode when Megan condemned the staff at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce with this: “What is wrong with you people? You’re all so cynical. You don’t smile, you smirk.” This is apt but, please, no suggestions that her Canadianness gives her the juice to get snippity with the tedious Americans. Think of the consequences. On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly condemning Mad Men for undermining the American way by inserting anti-American speeches from Canadians.

Mind you, another thing that should definitely not happen is Don divorcing, or abandoning Megan. She serves a terrific purpose. Much of Mad Men is indeed about how insular and small-minded the characters are. They are spooked by black people in the office. Being good, pro-establishment advertising people, they are suspicious of “the other,” in any form. The way some reacted to Megan, you’d think she’d come from another planet.

And, yet another thing – I sure hope that Trudy Campbell doesn’t find out that Pete knocked Peggy up, some time back. That is, I hope Trudy doesn’t ditch the nitwit and disappear from the series. Trudy is the most underused female figure. And, well, she’s played by Alison Brie, a formidable actor on both Community (as Annie) and Mad Men. Like, could Trudy not emerge as the most cunning and devious of them all? Makes sense to me.

Finally, there cannot be another plaid jacket on Pete Campbell. The light-check pattern jacket worn by Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) at the surprise party is fine, but the abomination worn by Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) could herald a most unfortunate craze in menswear. Far be it from me to tell Mad Men bosses what do. But, still.

That’s Mad Men. But I’m not done yet.

Here’s a short list of other “Things That Should Not Happen” on TV. First, no more trucker shows. Don’t get me started. Discovery has just announced the looming arrival of World’s Toughest Trucker in April. An entertainment bonanza, if your bag is “eight of the world’s most experienced truck drivers go head-to-head in some of the harshest environments on Earth.” Canadian trucker Derek (Ice Man) Martin takes part, so guys in this neck of the woods will know whom to root for. Trucker shows – further proof that men, not just Mad Men, are easily amused.

Second, encouraging people to shout at the TV. That should not happen. CBC’s peppy PR people are currently pushing the season finale of Marketplace on Friday, April 6. It’s called “The Busted Edition” because it ramps up the show’s consumer-watchdog role in the matter of implausible promises and shoddy services delivered by Canadian companies. Say the peppy PR people: “It’s an hour of television that will have the country shouting, ‘You’re busted!’ at their TV sets.” Indeed. Right after a federal budget that is likely to trim CBC’s budget, Not a good time to shout “You’re busted!” at a CBC show. Don’t do that.


Fashion Star (NBC, 10 p.m.) is really good for a laugh. Fashion design and marketing reduced to comic-book drama. Much more cheesy than those cable reality shows about the next-top-designer. I mean, get this – Elle Macpherson hosts along with celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie. Flibbertigibbet fashion, in other words

The fifth estate (CBC NN, 10 p.m.) is having a strong season and this investigation is especially good reporting. The show looks at the case of Burton Winters – a 14-year-old boy lost on the ice in a Labrador blizzard, and why Canada's search and rescue service wouldn't help find him until it was too late.

All times ET. Check local listings.

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