DVDs in Review # 76: Mad Men: Season One.

Category: , , By Rev/Views

With the third season of AMC's Mad Men set to debut in a few weeks I felt like writing about the previous seasons and their DVD sets. For myself Mad Men is the cultural heir to the crown of 'Top Drama' which has been previously occupied by Six Feet Under, Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Wire and The Shield. Times are pretty lean if you enjoy high quality drama, so I take it where I can get it - fortunately (as I've written previously) Mad Men is a show which embodies quality in every aspect.

Created by Sporanos alumni Matthew Weiner (Who drafted the pilot before starting work on The Sopranos) Mad Men focuses around the offices of Sterling Cooper, an advertising company located on New York's Maddison Avenue in the 1960s. Mad Men itself was a term created by the advertising executives who worked at that time - it pays to advertise yourself if you're in the business of advertising other people's products.

Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) is the principle star and character of the show, is the creative director of the company, an inspired individual who is as brilliant as he his complex. Much of the show revolves around Don's work and home life and as the series progresses we come to learn more about him. Don employs one Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) to work as his new secretary, a quiet and unassuming young woman who shows a real creative flair as time passes.

Also working for the company are the ambitious Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), a young executive with everything to prove; Roger Sterling (John Slattery) senior partner, Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) media buyer, Salvatore Romano (Bryan Batt) the Italian-American Art Director, Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) and the simply fantastic Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) who heads up the secretarial pool and dispenses both discipline and advice to the other women in the office.

At home Don lives with his wife Betty (January Jones), son Robert (Aaron Hart) and daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka); his wife is beautiful and his children are adorable and devoted, but Don still seems troubled and discontent. So he dallies with other women.

Mad Men is everything it should be and everything you could hope for in a television show, from it's stunning appearance, through the tight writing, enthralling dialog and all the way to the complexity of it's stories this is a show that, without a single doubt, succeeds. It's first season is gripping, interesting and intelligent, showing American history through the window of advertising and creating a world which feels almost historical itself. It's such a well crafted piece you could almost think it was a reenactment of the times rather than a drama.

Now the first season set is pretty much what you'd call 'no frills', apart from a cardboard dust cover (which is just lovely to the touch) and a few on disc extras this set is stripped to the bare basics. But that has helped keep the price down, while I would have appreciated something which managed to evoke the feel of the era - perhaps designed all in cardboard with minimal plastic - I can certainly appreciate the pure simplicity of this set and the low price which came as a result. The UK edition also has a stylish cover and the back really evokes the feel of the 1960s wonderfully. So it's a pretty big success for a three disc set.

If you consider yourself a connoisseur of the best in drama or simply enjoy a well put together show with depth, strong characters and a genuine feel to it you'd do yourself well picking up Mad Men's first season. I feel this is one to recommend to any fan of the drama shows I mentioned in my opening paragraph as it's quite simply the best drama on television at the moment.

Believe what you hear about this one.

Advertising the American Dream
Scoring Mad Men
Audio Commentaries with cast and crew

Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Language: English
Rating: 15
Region: 2
Run Time: 9 hours 42 minutes
Subtitles: English HOH


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