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Mad Men


Jim Miles
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This is a show about cocky and misogynistic advertising executives working in Manhattan during the 60s, and it's bloody good. The dialogue is sharp, the period details perfect, the characters believable, the plotlines unpredictable, and the creators aren't afraid to attack their own protagonists. Best of all though, there are so many little details on screen to notice but the programme never patronises the viewer by smugly flagging them up - they're just there to be enjoyed and reward you for paying attention.1

What I love so much about this show is how it captures a period in history but gives all the parts that are interesting to a 2007 audience. The way that women are marginalised and degraded, but are able to have some oblique control by manipulating men and using the responsibilities in their jobs. You can see how women were flooding the workplace and beginning to prove that they could do men's jobs just as well as men, if not better. I also like the way it shows how early advertising operated to create the "need to have" culture that we live in today. On top of that the show gives a bitter-sweet depiction of the status-obsessed capitalism of the middle class. There's so much more too.

The set design is flawless. Everything and everyone on screen looks just so damn good. You can smell the smoke, taste the whisky, and feel the polished wood and old-fashioned elevator buttons. I boot up an episode of this and just find myself drinking it in, in a way that I only really get with a well-written book or the highest-quality TV like The Sopranos and The Wire.

I'm loving it.

1For example, one of the partners runs his personal office in a Japanese style. People have to take their shoes off before entering, he has a The Dream of The Fisherman's Wife hanging on his wall, etc. But the reason behind this is never clearly explained or worked into the plot, it's just there for you to notice. And once you start noticing things like that you see the little tell tale signs like the fact that he puts his feet on the table (considered unacceptably rude in Japan) which hint at a more complicated picture (e.g. "Is he a dilettante?").

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Ha ha, I was just about to start a thread on this.

I’ve watched the first 10 episodes and it’s one of my favourite things on ‘TV’ right now.

Don Draper is really interesting character. I like how we know practically nothing about him at the start of the show but as the episodes go by more and more detail is filled in, leading to the big reveal in episode 10.

Some of the other characters are equally well drawn. John Slattery as Roger Sterling is especially good. Salvatore the flamboyant Italian art director is also superb.

It’s a great show and has been picked up for a second series.

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Salvatore the flamboyant Italian art director is also superb.

He's brilliant isn't he! He was my favourite character at the start, I just loved how he was so obviously gay but kept covering it up with these really insincere misogynistic comments towards the women which the other guys just eat up. There's this great scene early on where he says the equivalent of "Phwoar she'd get it!" and the other guys say the equivalent of "You would mate, you would!" without them seeing through it at all!

My favourite characters at the moment are the women, Peggy and Menken. I like how they are empowered and intelligent but still visibly frustrated by the limits placed on them by the society in which they live.

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Watched the season finale last night - Fantastic new series!

...and it is back next summer.

Lots of the creative talent from The Sopranos are working on this and it shows.

Can you believe HBO passed on this?! I bet after their terrible new shows lately they are kicking themselves.

My only criticism is that it isn't available in HD - it would really show off the production design (and Christina Hendricks) in all their glory.

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I think I'll download the entire series and pray for another Dexter-style all night binge-a-thon. It had best be good, damn you.

I personally wouldn't recommend binging on it. It is a show that demands (and will reward) your full attention. It will not pander and give you all the answers.

Far, far better to savour.

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I personally wouldn't recommend binging on it. It is a show that demands (and will reward) your full attention. It will not pander and give you all the answers.

Far, far better to savour.

I agree. There’s so much detail in each episode it rewards limiting yourself to one or two episodes at a time.

I’ve just watched the last 2 episodes. Wonderful stuff, Nixon vs. Kennedy especially. Jon Hamm deserves some kind of award for his acting.

When Pete tries to blackmail Don and Don stands up from his desk a look of pure fury flashes across his face, just for a second, then he goes back to being ice-cold Don. Amazing. And the way he played Pete and marched into the bosses and let Pete babble on knowing the boss will back him, superb. The Kodak presentation in the last episode was beautiful. His reaction to hearing about his brothers suicide was powerful and the very last shot of him sitting alone in his big house with the Bob Dylan track fading in just summed up why the show is so good. Don really is the Don.

Oh and the women. Betty, Joan and Rachel Menken are stunning.

Best new show of the year for me.

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I personally wouldn't recommend binging on it. It is a show that demands (and will reward) your full attention. It will not pander and give you all the answers.

Far, far better to savour.

Sounds like that's just a good opportunity to go back through it again.

Plus I challenge any man alive on his week off to not watch the next episode of a potentially great TV show when it's sat right there on the HDD.

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I wish you'd start threads on such things sooner. I'd never even heard of it.

Neither had I until I read a decent write up on Lance Mannion's blog (or it might have been James Wolcott's). It's really not something that seems to have spread much over here (or in America outside of the blogs of 40+ year old men), I was surprised at first not to have seen a topic about it already.

I'm looking forward to a bit more of a buzz in the UK, which I suspect will come suddenly at some point over the next three months (and then again when it hits UK TV and there's a second wave of fans from the non-torrenting audience). Although I love watching stuff that hardly anyone else is watching, with Mad Men it's a little bit ridiculous just how little known it is. It would be nice to have some discussion and criticism.

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  • 1 month later...

This looks to be appearing on BBC4 soon. Just finished watching the first season, and it really is a great show. So much detail, great characters and pacing.

End of S1 spoilers

The only thing I didn't like was Betty and her baby. It seemed rushed. Was she subtley getting larger? She just seemed to explode between one episode and then lots of comments about her getting fat. It can't have helped that I kept thinking back to an episode of Eastenders where the exact same thing happened.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Been watching this for the last fortnight or so. What a fucking show! Just finished episode 12 last night and decided to wait 'til tonight to watch the finale as I was getting a little tired and didn't want to fall asleep in the middle of it. Jon Hamm is just incredible in the main role. His character is one of the most well written I've ever seen. There's just so much depth to him.

Christina Hendrick's breasts really are something else, ain't they? :D It's all I can look at when she's on screen.

Looking forward to watching the last one, tonight.

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Watched the final episode last night, and man was it brilliant. :D The final shot(and music) was so perfect. The scene with the slideshow was inspired, too. It definitely deserved the Golden Globe it picked up the other week, that's for sure. I can't wait for the second season. I hope John Slattery will be back, though. He was one of the best things about the season.

It's shot right up there as one of the best tv shows I've ever seen. I'm definitely gonna be re-watching it again, sooner rather than later as I probably missed loads of stuff in the first few episodes, when I wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

I'd recommend it to anyone who was a fan of Six Feet Under. It has that same kind of depressing brilliance about it. It's certainly not something you'd watch to cheer yourself up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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