Monday, July 28, 2008

I Didn't Even Know How Much I Missed Mad Men

You know, I love "Mad Men," but I almost forgot the season premiere was coming on last night. And that’s the thing about the show—it tends to move a bit slowly and sometimes it doesn’t feel like much is happening (so it doesn’t create that week-to-week or season-to-season anticipation that other, more action-packed shows do), but when it’s on, I become completely and totally submerged in every gorgeously crafted minute of it.

More on why I like "Mad Men" (and SPOILERS from last night’s episode), after the jump.

1.) The style is nine kinds of fabulous. Yes, it’s obvious, and yes, it’s a common thing that fans love about the show, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth repeating here. Despite the stellar dialogue, I could almost be happy watching the show with the sound off, just to see and observe all the era-appropriate design choices Matt Weiner & Co. make, from the outfits—Betty’s riding outfit last night was stunning—to the furniture and interior design at Sterling Cooper.

2.) This show rewards loyal viewers. It’s weird, but it kind of reminds me of “The Wire,” in the way the show tells its stories. Other, less confident shows, would have made a point of wrapping up last season’s cliffhangers in the first half hour—but Mad Men is so well-paced that it wasn’t until after the show aired that I realized we still didn’t know exactly what happened with Peggy’s baby. And that’s ok. I’m sure they’ll lay it all out for us organically, in a way that’s satisfying to the viewers, in due time. Another example—I think any other show would have made a point of letting us know exactly who Don was sending that book to in the closing scene (probably with a nice, obvious close-up of him writing out there address) just to drive home the point that there’s Trouble Afoot In Paradise. But we don’t know, and who knows when we will? I’m fine with that.

3.) This probably overlaps a bit with 2, but I love the subtlety of the character development between seasons one and two. We know that we’ve moved forward in time, but not so much that anything hugely significant has taken place. But Don has gone from suave and in control to somewhat vulnerable and definitely showing his age. Betty seems to have grown more confident, although she’s still obviously a wee bit nutso (trading on your sexuality late at night on a desolate street for a discount on a fan belt is never a good idea, folks!)… but while there are changes, they’re still the same characters. Those minor tweaks represent growth (either positive or negative) but in a way that’s realistic to the characters we spent the first season getting to know.

A few other things I loved about last night’s show:
-Sal is…married?!
-The Jackie O. tour of the White House
-Peggy dressing down Don’s new secretary the same way Joan did with her last year
-Joan showing Peggy the what’s-what by putting the Xerox in her office
-Roger (he’s always outstanding)

Did you watch? What did you like/dislike? Who do you think Don’s sending the package to? I think the obvious choices are Midge (the mistress from season one) or Rachel, (the head of Menken’s).

UPDATE: EW's TV Watch recap is here. Happy that I'm not the only one seeing the parallels to "The Wire."


brenner said...

Eh, I didn't get it. Maybe I needed to prep by watching season 1. See SFTC for my analysis.

Greg said...

I was surprised Sal was married, or appeared to be. Wiki says he's gay, and that's what I inferred from last season. I'm sure the marriage is a cover.

I'm curious to know if the Jackie O tour actually aired on Feb. 14, 1962. Given that Weiner's a stickler for accuracy, I'm sure it did.

Daniel said...

I only saw one episode of season 1 before watching season 2, the lipstick panel where we get to meet Peggy.

I now have it DVR'd. Like you the style and era-specific setting is so cool to watch, along with everything else.

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