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Mad Men: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray]
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Everything about Mad Men is stylish, even when it's all falling apart. And in season 3 of this Emmy-winning drama, many things fall apart--marriages, childhood, even the ad agency itself--but the unspoolings play out delicately and tragically, making for utterly compelling television. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) appears to dedicate himself to being a devoted family man, with the impending birth of his third child with Betty (January Jones), but the premiere episode, "Out of Town," has him right back to his philandering ways. While the Drapers do enjoy a romantic interlude during a business trip to Italy that makes you wish those darn kids could just work it out, the writing's on the wall that this marriage is sputtering out. Adding to the complication is Betty's discovery of Don's identity-switching past, her own dalliance with a politician, and their oldest child Sally's growing petulance as she observes her world crumbling around her (9-year-old Kiernan Shipka is a revelation). Meanwhile, the Brits infiltrate Sterling Cooper after a merger, leaving Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) and Ken (Aaron Staton) competing for the same job; Conrad Hilton (Chelcie Ross) brings in his business and his idiosyncrasies; the closeted Sal (Bryan Batt) nearly gets pushed out of the closet by some compromising situations; Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) asserts herself in the workplace and experiments with loosening her collar (this includes a surprising fling); and Joan (Christina Hendricks, arguably the sexiest woman on television) finally leaves the agency to be a housewife, only to find herself looking for work when her doctor husband comes up short in the promotion department. As usual, the comic relief lies in the reliable hands of the razor-sharp John Slattery as agency partner Roger Sterling, whose marriage to the much-younger former secretary of Don's drives tension between the once-chummy colleagues. At the end of the season, JFK's assassination provides a tragic backdrop for people preoccupied with their own troubles. The top-drawer writing and staging feels very much like a play, especially in the way it merges Don Draper's past with his present. Each episode also includes commentary by creator Matthew Weiner, various writers and directors, and pretty much all cast members (some are entertaining, some pretty superfluous). Also included are featurettes on the history of cigarette advertising and civil-rights documentaries on Medgar Evers and the "I Have a Dream" speech. The latter features, while substantial and well made, feel curiously out of place next to the materialistic and ethically challenged characters on Madison Avenue. Although not as consistent as the first two seasons, Mad Men's third season has enough power to keep it the best series of 2009. --Ellen A. Kim
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While I do admit to preferring season 2's individual storylines over the ones in season 3, it makes no difference in my rating because Mad Men continues to operate on a higher level than everything else that's being produced right now in America, be it TV show or movie.
Meet Don Draper (Jon Ham), a Madison Avenue water-walker (and based on real life ad-man, George Lois). 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 as Don's ex-wife), 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.Read more ›
I was crossing my fingers for the fith series to come as there were some troubles.
Long live to the Madmen...
Most recent customer reviews
excellent series. I found the third season less satisfying that some of the other seasons, though.Published 5 months ago by Harrison