Thursday, January 28, 2010

So Long Sal

Not only did Sal Romano (Bryan Batt) get fired from Sterling Cooper about midway through Mad Men's third season because he rebuffed the sexual advances of one of the agency's biggest clients, but he's also not going to be asked to join the up-from-the-ashes, hotel room-based Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce either, it was reported this week.

According to TV Guide, Sal's character won't be showing his handsome mug on Mad Men in its fourth season. Show creator/runner Matthew Weiner told TV Guide:

“We don’t murder people on our show, but for there to be any stakes, there have to be consequences . . . [Losing Batt as a cast member] was a tough moment for the show, but that’s where we are. I know how people felt about Bryan. I obviously love working with him, and he has been an indelible character since the pilot. But I felt it was an expression of the times that he couldn’t work there anymore. It’s the ultimate case of sexual harassment."

In honor of good old Sal, I've listed my top three favorite Sal moments:

3. Season one, "The Hobo Code:" Sal went out for drinks and thoroughly enjoyed scintillating conversation with the male rep for the Belle Jolie account, who was clearly attracted to the sophisticated, urbane Sal. However when the rep asked Sal if he wanted to see the view of the city from his hotel room, Sal gently declined, largely out of fear. Earlier in that episode, Sterling Cooper had been pitching Belle Jolie this ad campaign motto, "Mark your man."

2. Season three premiere episode, "Out of Town:" After Sal was spotted by Don Draper with a partially undressed bellhop in his hotel room, Don and Sal later had a thinly veiled conversation about limiting one's "exposure." (Ironic, given that when Don saw Sal and the bellhop, he himself was dashing down a fire escape with a partially dressed female airline attendant, which was considered okay, apparently.) The two men, who were hiding huge secrets about themselves, had more in common than even Sal realized at the time.

1. Season two, "The Gold Violin:" Sure, it may have looked as though a charming, loving couple was simply entertaining their bachelor friend and filling his belly with a scrumptious homemade meal. However the life of this little dinner party really came not from the couple but from the delightful intellectual, creative banter between Sal and the surprisingly insightful Ken Cosgrove about Ken's unpublished manuscript which he trusted Sal to read. Between that meal and Sal's post-dinner coveting of Ken's lighter that Ken accidentally left behind -- as Sal ignored his suffering, virtually invisible wife Kitty -- it all seemed poignant and sad for everyone, except for Ken who didn't really know what was going on. Sal made a real connection intellectually, but knew he couldn't take it any further than that.

Honorable mention: Sal doing his rendition of Bye Bye Birdie in his bedroom in the third season's "The Arrangements" after taking a pass on fooling around with Kitty.

What do you think of the fact that we won't be seeing Sal on Mad Men?

Image credit: AMC.


Cooley Horner said...

I'm sad to see Sal go, but not as sad as some folks are. I always appreciated his character as a great flavor in the mix, like how it's fun to get bits and one-liners from Ken, Harry, and the gang, but I can see Weiner's argument. As fun as it would be to see Sal on board with Sterling Cooper Draper and Price, people back then wouldn't be able to overlook his sexuality.

Argh, when will Mad Men return!? It's already been too long! :)

Bill said...

I agree with Weiner, however...
My problem with the Sal issue is that the ending was so unsatisfying. Apparently we'll never know what happens to him, or (just as importantly in my mind) with Kitty.
Is he blacklisted in NYC? Does he end up making arty films for Andy Warhol? Or drunk and hustling in the park?

I'm also frustrated and afraid that they've just dropped Miss Farrell. Don seemed to have something somewhat real with her. Yet in Season 4 it's a year later and... what, nothing? Maybe if Henry and Betty move Sally out of the school system...

Sal certainly can't return as a major character, but I'd like someone to bump into him and give us an update. And Miss Farrell... well, please... bring her back at least for one episode.

They created such great characters, it's disrespectful to them to just chuck them overboard.