Thursday, October 4, 2007

TV EYE-Captivating Period Piece

When the chaos and hurly-burly of the 2007 television season finally dies down, Mad Men (Thursdays, 10:00 PM), AMC’s first original series, may indeed take the prize as the sharpest, smartest, best executed series of the year. Created by Sopranos writer/producer Matthew Weiner, the show delves into a captivating period in recent American history (the brief, false idyll when Eisenhower reigned), and depicts, more specifically, the day-to-day orbits of the square-jawed men and well-rounded woman (wonder bread white and middle-class uppity)—all drinking deeply from the artificial fountains of newly minted suburbia-- who peopled the Madison Ave, New York advertising world. Mad Men’s impeccable set design deserves a love song to itself, but the look, the tone, the toe-dipping bits of understated drama, all contribute to a project that is as well conceived, as it is unerringly delivered and unimpeachably penetrative. The central figure, Don Draper (Jon Hamm, in a simultaneously subtle but breakout performance), is a Gregory Peck/William Holden-type, straddling the cusp of the 50’s-into-60’s with an air of existential distance, a no nonsense seducer brimming with a just under-the-surface combination of anger and disdain, a man in a gray flannel suit heading towards either a mid-drift bulge and a drinking problem, a break out and head turning first novel, or a leap into the whirling void of the oncoming sixties. (Both John Slattery as the unctuous boss man and Vincent Kartheiser as the agency’s high strung lost soul register highly, and the supporting cast of women, especially Elisabeth Moss, Maggie Siff, Rosemarie DeWitt and January Jones are amazingly lovely to look at while turning in fetchingly unmannered performances.) Weiner has hit upon something special here—a look at the filtered past with a gaze from the present that is in turns disapproving and envious, a gut shot and a blow to the head, a scintillating TV cocktail that’s part-Martini and part-mother’s little helper, with a drop of acid sure to come.


skylolo99 said...
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mdoggie said...

I have been recording "Madmen" but have only watched it once. I have not watched it since, although I was intrigued. Similarly, I've watched "Brotherhood", several times but not regularly. I get totally sucked in each time I do.
I also wanted to like "The Company" but was only able to give it a short trial.
Mostly these days I have only time for:
"Weeds" Funny, sexy, surprising, and destined to be regarded a classic.
Californication" - which I did not like initially but I'm glad I stuck with it. Arriving 10 years late, Duchovny must have wet-dreamed this series throughout his last 5 years on "X-Files".
"Heroes" is back.
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" still somehow exerts an unnatural and wholly irrational power over me. I am distressed, repulsed, and compelled to watch all at the same time.

skylolo99 said...

I think Madmen is the best thing on TV today. The attention to detail is downright obsessive. The characters are wonderfully complex. The onset of the sexual revolution is on display in all it's convoluted glory,from the head secretary who get's what she want via her 'head' to the new up and comer who is moving up via her mind.
The episode where Draper smokes pot with his bohemian mistress and her fake prolitariat consort was great. Draper's hip enough to know that what he does to make a buck really amounts to nothing but selling dreams. He's also hip enough to call the fake proliteriate on his silent crush on the bohemian girl.
There's a cool juxtaposition on the Korean vets vs the WW 2 vets. Yopu get the neccessary war hero as opposed to the lost war veteran.
I think it's brilliant dense stuff. That was a nice good vibration episode last night too!