Couch Commando

MAD MEN: Season 1 Episode 11 – “Indian Summer”

Posted in Mad Men by LaurenStheTA on April 9, 2010

Viewed on my usual couch, evening, with friends.

Office gossip with the Colonel.

Things in the Mad Men world are getting darker and darker. This episode opens with Don Draper’s brother, Adam Whitman, at his hotel sending a package to his brother. When he returns to his room, he hangs himself with his own belt. Back at Sterling Cooper, the office is limping along without Sterling. Just in time for a meeting, Sterling returns and promptly has another heart attack in the meeting. In the meantime, Peggy Olson gets a new account for a personal massager masquerading as a weight loss tool. In Sterling’s absence, Draper is made a partner and Peggy gets a raise and maybe even her own office. Pete Campbell finds the package sent to Draper and takes it with him. And last but not least, Betty Draper is at home having an affair with an destabilized dryer.

Throughout the season I’ve been noticing the sets of the show. Set in 1960, the show is obviously a period piece. The set designers and decorators have done an impressive job emulating the time period. The Sterling Cooper offices are beautifully done – there is the pit, or a bull pen, where all the secretaries desks are, and surrounding the bull pen are the offices of Don Draper, Pete Campbell, and the rest of the crew.

This looks like expensive real estate.

The individual offices are perfectly in sync with the time period and some, like Cooper’s, reflect the trends of the time period. Style-wise there was a lot of Asian influence (Rachel Menken even has a scene in an Asian restaurant in this episode where she does a terrible job of eating with chopsticks), and Cooper’s office as several Oriental touches to it:

One more time for the cheap seats in the back: People are "Asians". "Oriental" is for food and rugs.

In addition to the perfectly stylized offices, I also find the colors used in the show very beautiful and timely. Everything from painted walls to the clothing have an amazing palette. The colored glass surrounding the pit in combination with the greys of the office give the whole area a cool and toned atmosphere. The costuming in the show compliments the set in every way – mossy greens, warm reds, greys, taupes and brassy golds visually pull together every scene. The color palette of Mad Men makes even the most boring episode appear visually interesting and appealing. I’m actually pretty convinced that Mad Men might be the most visually stunning show on TV right now.

You can check out an interview with the set decorator here and watch this video for more information on the production design of Mad Men.

Rated 4/5.


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