The season's 13 episodes are a perfect suite of politics (Joan vs. the male establishment, the rivalry between Ken and Pete); humor (the firm competes for a Honda account and trips over itself trying to read their Japanese clients); hope (Don and Betty's daughter Sally's cry for help finally falls on receptive ears); and growth (Pete, so weaselly in season one, has become the show's most matured cast member). Each one comes with full commentary by creator Matthew Weiner and various cast and crew members. Also included are documentaries on the historical landscape of the period Mad Men covers: divorce, the Ford Mustang, and the 1964 presidential campaign. All are informative enough, but for a show that's very serious and buttoned up, one can't help but feel a little disappointed there aren't more lighthearted behind-the-scenes extras that could have been included. But perhaps Weiner & Co. feel it's better to keep it all behind the curtain.
When things get bad, we tend to look to the past. And the bleaker the future looks, the further back we search for comfort. As the new millennium keeps disappointing us, TV shows set on the 50's and the 60's (once a rarity) keep growing in numbers. Many have tried and failed. MAD MEN tried and closed the deal. And have been doing so for 5 seasons now.
Meet Don Draper (Jon Ham), a Madison Avenue water-walker (and based on the real life ad men Draper Daniels and Rosser Reeves). He is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. He is brilliant and secretive. He wants to keep walking the tight rope with no safety net. And definitely no contract. He is a chain-smoking, hard liqueur guzzling, womanizing alpha male. He is a loving father of three, married to a picture-perfect ex model. He has it all. And yet he cannot find peace. Because he learned early on that the world is always yawning at your heels, eager to yank everything you love away.
From bursting with joie-de-vivre Roger Sterling (hilarious John Slattery) and ever scheming Pete Cambell (baby-faced Vincent Kartheiser) to the gorgeous women (such as barbie January Jones and refined Jessica Paré as his first and second wife, respectively), the cast is one perfect pick after another. And the writing is brilliant, reproducing the tastes and smells and nuisances of the era around Camelot, while drawing you in to the personal stories of characters polished yet inevitably flawed.
The 50's and the 60's were before my time so it is not nostalgia that makes me love the show. Yes, I find the era mesmerizing and (probably undeservingly) less complicated. If nothing else, though, back then they knew how to dress. Women looked feminine and men looked manly. You see January Jones on the red carpet, for example, all dressed up and groomed for a Hollywood function - and that modern image cannot hold a candle to herself dressed for everyday(!) life in the 50's. When did we loose it? When did we decide men should stop wearing suits and hats and women should start wearing sweat-suits outside the house? I, for one, blame the hippies!
This is one of the best TV shows ever and this box-set includes season 4. There is one more. Season 6 is eminent whereas season 7 has already been green-lighted. As I have said again before, good TV is best watched on DVD. Make weekends out of it. It is much more enjoyable to watch an entire season in a couple of days than having to wait week(s) between episodes. And (quite ironically, in this case), you will not have to suffer the...commercials.
Mad Men is an awesome series and because it is set in the late fifties, early sixties it brings back a lot of memories of simpler times. There are very similar ads for the real products that they mention, that I can remember from my childhood.