Friday, August 28, 2009

Mad Men

As I mentioned before, I'm fiending pretty hard core on Mad Men these days. I frantically finished the second season, only to start the third a week late, and have my DVR cut off the last five minutes of the second episode. I probably missed a really kick-ass wistful glance from Don Draper, during which I would have leaned closer to the screen and shouted "is there a soul in there? Come on!" Seriously, that shit gets me every time.

Since I've been watching so much of this show recently, my roommates can't help but catch a second-hand whiff, and one of them got hooked enough to alter his Netflix que to get the first season. On Blue-Ray. Do you know how good everything looks on Blue-Ray on an HD television? It's like looking through the sexiest window in the world. It feels real, only sexier.

The crew of Mad Men prides themselves on their impeccable attention to detail, and Blue-Ray lets you really revel in every period-appropriate aesthetic. You can see every shimmering moused-to-the-side follicle on Hamm's head. You see every mustard thread in their plaid suits, and it's breath-taking.

But aside from the visual clarity, I've also gained some perspective on the show in general. Most of those first episodes follow a strict formula that goes something like "watch this specific stereotype about the time period played out in the personal lives of our characters." It's interesting to see how the show grows, becoming more subtle and cerebral. Things are so overt in the first season, especially the pilot.

In the scene where he's supposed to charm Rachel Menken at dinner, Don Draper ends up spewing his entire character philosophy. He asserts that "love" and "happiness" are concepts fabricated by guys like him, therefore he does nothing but live in the moment. As a viewer who just spent an entire second season wondering why Don hasn't learned a damn thing, the pilot makes everything totally clear. It ends with him placing a hand on each of his children as they sleep, and while his wife looks on with admiration, the audience can see how torn Don truly feels. He doesn't want to buy what he sells, and although he can spend an entire season resisting, he can never fully turn off his humanity.

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