[SPOILERS AHEAD!] Last night's episode of Mad Men was The Weird One, something that Matthew Weiner seems to deliver once every season. Titled "The Runaways," it featured Don's pregnant homeless hippie "niece" Stephanie (who we met in season 4), a moody Sally (who's nursing a hurt nose and black eyes after a fight), an experimental Megan, The Computer... and the strange but unsurprising breakdown of Michael Ginsberg. There weren't many historical timestamps in the episode, but below we'll unpack those that appeared.
The computer is up and running at the agency, and the former break room now looks like a spaceship manned by an Austin Powers extra. Along with the computer, last week came plenty of 2001: A Space Odyssey references, and there was one big nod to the movie again in last night's episode. The scene where Ginsberg observes Lou Avery and Jim Cutler in the computer room is just about a shot-for-shot recreation of HAL 900 reading the lips of the astronauts in the movie. (Check out Vulture's GIFs comparing the two.)
Below, a history of computers from 1969... not one person mentions how they can "make you a homo."
The agency is pursuing Philip Morris' Commander cigarettes—the company that Don famously wrote that anti-cigarette ad against in the New York Times. However, he seems to convince them—at a meeting he crashes at The Algonquin—that he's the only cigarette man who can help their campaign succeed.
In May of 1969, the NY Times reported on the "major confrontation in Washington between the giant cigarette industry and a growing battalion of politicians, health organizations and Government agencies who are determined to crack down on cigarette advertising. Such showdowns are rare here—the last comparable one was over the safety of automobiles three years ago." Cigarette prices were about to go up as well, and televised ads pulled.
Lou has been working on his secret (until now) dream: his Scout's Honor comic. He tells his critics in the office that it's better than Underdog, which was created by someone over at Dancer Fitzgerald. And it was.
"In 1959, handling the General Mills account as an account executive with the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency W. Watts Biggers teamed with Chet Stover, Treadwell D. Covington, and artist Joe Harris in the creation of television cartoon shows to sell breakfast cereals for General Mills. The shows introduced such characters as King Leonardo, Tennessee Tuxedo, and Underdog. Biggers and Stover contributed both scripts and songs to the series. When Underdog became a success, Biggers and his partners left Dancer Fitzgerald Sample to form their own company, Total Television... at the end of the decade, Total Television folded when General Mills dropped out as the primary sponsor in 1969."
- In May 1969, the NY Times reported on using lithium in mental illness treatment—here's their article revolving around a NY marketing exec who was in and out of sanitariums. No nipple mutilation in his story though...
- The topic of Vietnam comes up amongst the Westchester crowd as Henry and Betty are hosting some neighbors (for the most part, they're in agreement with Nixon and want to pull out of the war). But the rebellious youths of America also come up during this conversation: "I know all anyone wants to talk about is Vietnam, but things are falling apart here, too," one party-goer remarks, as vandals just took out some nearby streetlights on Peck Avenue. "It's a national disease: wildness in the kids," Henry says.
- Betty, before starting to reject the role of politician's wife, announces that she'll be serving Crab Louie at their party. The dish, said to be created in San Francisco in the early 1900s, basically consists of mayo, crab meat, hard boiled eggs, tomato, asparagus, and iceberg lettuce.
- Don is working on some Handi-Wrap pitches—back in 1969 the tagline was: "Freshness is a snap with Handi-Wrap." Check out some old ads for the product here.
"You've Made Me So Very Happy" (playing at Megan's party). First released by Brenda Holloway as a single in 1967, this was the cover by Blood, Sweat & Tears, which was topping the charts in April 1969.
"Petite Fleur" interrupts the aforementioned song, as musicians bust out their instruments at the party.
"Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line," Waylon Jennings
Lou refers to Bob Dylan as "a genius" in this episode. At the time, Dylan had just released Nashville Skyline, his ninth studio album, and was about to appear on the first episode of Johnny Cash's new television show: