TV shows are important, very important. Are TV shows more important than history? Yes. Everyone knows this.
But what if a TV show like Mad Men had more history in it? We’ll never know, because the show doesn’t let history play a central character. Consider that wrong righted with this, my rewriting of the premiere episode of Season 6 of Mad Men.
Mad Men Season 6 Two-Part Premiere: “Green Bay Knievel”
The episode opens with Don (Jon Hamm) reading the newspaper in his living room. Closeup on the newspaper’s date: “December 31, 1967.” Don’s wife Megan (Jessica Paré) enters the living room wearing a Green Bay Packers uniform. She can’t see because of her helmet’s facemask, and she trips over the record player console. She falls down. “What’s with the football getup?” asks Don, helping her to her feet. Then Don’s daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) skips right in and says, “The Green Bay Packers are going to play the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl tonight, December 31, 1967. Can we go?”
Don is about to say “No” but then Sally hands him three real Super Bowl tickets and smirks. Megan smacks her.
Meanwhile, at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) reveals to Roger (John Slattery) that on December 26, 1967 in England, the BBC premiered the Beatles movie “Magical Mystery Tour,” and that the agency’s accounts are all doing well.
Dawn the secretary (Teyonah Parris) enters, and also reveals that on December 26, 1967 the Beatles movie “Magical Mystery Tour” premiered on the BBC. Joan (Christina Hendricks) suddenly reveals that she has tickets to go see Evil Knievel jump his motorcycle over the Caesars Palace Fountains that night. Who wants to go? No one. Dawn does. Joan rejoices. Then Dawn says she can’t go, because she’s going to see the Green Bay Packers play the Dallas Cowboys.
Don and Megan and Sally are on a plane to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and in the Green Bay airport they run into Dawn. There is small talk as they take a taxi to the stadium. Don reveals that he hopes the Packers win. A victory for Green Bay, Don reasons, will make up for the disappearance and presumed death of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt on December 17 while swimming in the ocean near Portsea, Victoria, 60 kilometers from Melbourne. Sally reveals that she is glad that Holt died, because he committed so many young Australian troops to serve in Vietnam. Megan smacks her.
Meanwhile, Betty (January Jones) reveals at her last Weight Watchers meeting that on December 19, a Professor John Archibald Wheeler used the term Black Hole for the first time. “So THAT’S where your final half pound went – the Black Hole!” someone says. No one laughs.
Betty drives home where she finds her husband Henry (Christopher Stanley) crying over the sink. Betty slaps him and demands to know what’s wrong. He reveals to Betty that he orchestrated the Battle of Tam Quan, a two week battle fought when the American 8th Cavalry and other units disrupted the 7th and 8th battalions of the 22nd North Vietnamese Army Regiment. Betty packs a picnic basket while Henry is busy hanging himself.
Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) is home in the apartment she shares with her boyfriend, celebrating New Year’s Eve. Tight shot on Peggy’s face. She addresses the camera, and reveals to the viewers of Mad Men that the Green Bay Packers defeated the Cowboys 21-17. She closes her eyes and also reveals that Evil Knievel failed in his bid to jump the Caesars Palace Fountains.
In Las Vegas, Joan pens a letter to Roger, revealing that Evil Knievel suffered a concussion that would likely put him in a coma for 29 days.