As I contemplated writing a post about Mad Men, I realized that I haven’t written any posts about TV. And it’s certainly not because I don’t watch TV or get excited about certain shows. The timing of the blog is partially to blame, I suppose, because summer isn’t always the best time for television. Normally there would be a new season of Mad Men to look forward to, but contract negotiations set back the production of season five. Perhaps the real reason is that TV is where a lot of my guilty pleasures lie.
Mad Men, however, does not fall into that category. I was reunited with my beloved Madison Avenue ad execs when all four seasons popped up on Netflix Instant a few days ago. I plan on switching to only DVDs when the price hike takes effect, so I have to take advantage while I can. For the last two days, I’ve been reliving the wonderful fourth season. Experiencing the show in marathon form reminds me of when I first started watching it. I caught some second season episodes as they aired on AMC. I wasn’t overly enthralled, but something kept me interested. Instead I rented the first season on DVD to see what I was missing.
As it turned out, the DVD experience was the perfect way to get me hooked. The show is slow-paced, and watching an episode in isolation can feel like nothing really happens. Sure, the costumes and set design are gorgeous, but what about emotional content? By watching several episodes at once, you can appreciate the slow build to the intense moments of drama or revelation. Even the small moments of change start to feel huge when you get to know the characters from the beginning.
What I admire most about Mad Men is that it’s not afraid of change. The show has a track record for jaw-dropping season finales. I’m not just using that as an expression — my mouth has been literally hanging open on multiple occasions. My personal favorite is the season two finale, set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Point being that with every finale, I’m left with the feeling that next season will be completely different. And more importantly, I can’t wait to see what that will mean. Unlike some shows that tiptoe around changes, Mad Men embraces them, bringing fresh ideas to each 13-episode run. Dare I say that the fourth season, which featured the most drastic changes in its characters lives, was the best one yet?
And did I mention the fashion? If you’re making a show this understated, you better at least be giving the people some eye candy. And do they ever. As I probably made obvious in some of my movie reviews, I’m a sucker for 1950s and ’60s fashion. Really the whole aesthetic from clothes to hair styles to furniture just makes my eyes happy. Oh, and have no fear for season five. According to my sources, they start shooting next week.
Hello, Vertigo-inspired season four DVD cover.