Cape Town - Mad about Mad Men?
Between Wednesday 1 June and Wednesday 15 June this year, online auction house ScreenBid is selling 1500 props specially selected by Mad Men’s prop master Ellen Freund at madmen.screenbid.com.
We’ve been binge-watching seasons 1-6 on ShowMax, and seeing all that gorgeous decor and fashion makes us mad that we can’t live inside the TV!
Sadly, we’re a bit too financially challenged to buy Don’s cherry red 1964 Chrysler Imperial (or anything else, really – curse you, exchange rate), but it got us thinking and we’ve started window shopping for our own top 10 favourite props as we rewatch the show…
1) The John Deer Ride-on Mower
Junior secretary Lois Sadler (Crista Flanagan) is racing about the office on the mower when she runs over new boss Guy Mackendrick’s (Jamie Thomas King) foot, splattering the office with gore (season 3, episode 6). The characters’ giggly shock is all too relatable when office manager Joan (Christina Hendricks) tells ad exec Don (Jon Hamm) as they’re waiting in the hospital, “One minute you’re on top of the world the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawnmower.” And you can’t expect advertising geniuses not to go for word play. When ad exec Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis) points out “He might lose his foot,” his boss Roger (John Slattery) can’t resist quipping, “Right when he got it in the door.”
2) A Kodak Carousel
Don’s most famous pitch (season 1, episode 13) contrasts the golden emotions and nostalgic family slideshow he’s put together to seduce Kodak’s executives, with the fact that his half-brother Adam (Jay Paulson) has just committed suicide because of Don’s rejection, and Don’s wife Betty (January Jones) is so lost in her marriage and so betrayed that she’s gripping a 10-year-old boy’s mittened hand in a parking lot and admitting, “I’m so sad”. Don insists that the execs refer to the slide holder as a carousel but it looks like everyone aboard this carnival ride would really, really like to get off.
3) Pete's Bloody Shirt
There have never been two less likely brawlers than ad execs prim and proper Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) and sneaky weasel Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) in season 5, episode 5 ). But when Lane calls Pete “a grimy little pimp” and challenges him to fisticuffs, Roger Sterling says with glee, “I know cooler heads should prevail… but am I the only one who wants to see this?” It’s deliciously deserved when Pete goes down to a couple of sharp jabs to the nose from Lane, taking the office bar glasses with him.
4) Ken's Eyepatch
Ad account executive Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) has a little issue with the Chevrolet account when the Chevy execs cover his eyes while he’s driving, nearly causing an accident. But it’s the last straw when one accidentally shoots him in the face while they’re out on yet another manly bonding exercise – hunting (season 6, episode 12). Ken looks surprisingly hot with an eyepatch but yeah, we’d pass on that account too.
5) Betty's Pigeon-shooting BB Gun
Betty has just been rejected as a model for the new Coca-Cola ad, shattering her dream of going back into modelling and making her very much aware that the look that she has been valued for her whole life is now the “wrong” look. She goes through her morning housewife routine in her white, floaty negligee, then takes out a BB gun and opens fire on her neighbour’s pigeons as the mellow 50s pop song You Are My Special Angel plays. Betty might look like the angel of the household but she’s a crazy, resentful little devil inside.
6) Don's Box of Secrets
Betty corners Don (season 3, episode 11) and orders him to open his permanently locked desk drawer, take out his box of secrets and tell her the truth about who he is and where he came from, after she finds the key and stumbles across some mysterious pictures, and divorce papers (season 3, episode 10). Don tries to bluster his way out but Betty has him cornered and forces out every drip of the truth. Aside from the performances, the bits and pieces in the box that are the traces of Dick Whitman have always fascinated us.
7) The Sterling's Recording
Don keeps his hugely resentful protégé Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) working late on a suitcase account (season 4, episode 7), making her miss her birthday party, but after they’ve stopped yelling at each other (an epic fight whose counterpoint is the Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston boxing match that everyone else has slipped out of the office to see), late-night office capers lead to them discovering Roger’s secretary’s recording for his memoir, "Sterling's Gold”, in which Roger reveals that senior partner Bert Cooper’s (Robert Morse) secretary Ida Blankenship (Davenia McFadden) is the “Queen of Perversions”, and that Bert is minus a couple of important things down below.
8) The Beatles Revolver Album
At his young wife Megan’s (Jessica Paré) suggestion, Don puts aside his oldies and pops The Beatles’ Revolver album on the record player (season 5, episode 8) and listens to the Tomorrow Never Knows track. His pained reaction shows how out of step he has become with contemporary culture. That’s something as dangerous for a man in his industry as the empty lift shaft he nearly stepped into earlier in the day. Both have snuck up on him because he has been sleepwalking through life lately.
9) Don's hat
Don and Joan are Mad Men’s two most glamorous characters and they really don’t spend enough time together, considering what a treat it is when they do. They go out drinking together (season 5, episode 10) after a joy ride in a Jaguar, and Don admits that he was too scared of her to flirt with her when he first arrived at the firm, besides which, “Burt Peterson told me you were the one person in the agency I shouldn't cross”. Given license to flirt, though, both really put on a show that’s half silly and half serious when Don looks at Joan from under the brim of his hat and asks her, “want to dance?” giving her the giggles.
10) Musical Vodka Bottle
And what would life be without a vodka bottle that pours out the Song of the Volga Boatmen whenever Roger opens the cap while he’s high on LSD (season 5, episode 6) at his wife Jane’s (Peyton List) therapist’s house.
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