“ Genre: Television - Mad Men / Theatrical Release: 2007 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Alan Taylor / Actors: Candice Cunningham, Emelle, Kiernan Shipka, January Jones ... / DVD released 2008-06-30 at Lions Gate Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
Upon a friends recommendation I hired season 1 from Blockbuster at £5 for 5 nights - but I only needed 1 night I was so captivated!
At 13 episodes per disc I now understand that there is a 5th and possibly 6th season to view and I intend to watch each and every Emmy, Bafta and Golden Globe award winning one.
~What's it all about?~
Mad Men is a darkly humourous look at a prestigious ad agency on New York's Madison Avenue. Firmly set in the 1960's we watch our charcters continue to blur the lines between the truth and lies, perception and reality.
Our lead charcter Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) is the Creative Director of Sterling Cooper and we observe him handling accounts with panache. He is dashing, intense and captivating. Intensely protective of his private life he is a man of few words but all of them the right ones. Along side his bosses Frank Sterling and Bernie Cooper he stands out in the office as important and authorative figure and one that catches all the ladies eyes.
His wife Betty Draper (January Jones) is the perfect housewife with two children, a girl (Sally) and a boy (Bobby). She was a model before marrying Draper and now her role is the stereotypical housewife with a duty to have dinner on the table, look perfect and not ask any questions. Jones plays this role beautifully and it is astonishing in our modern times to observe the sixties etiquette. My favourite scene is when her children run in to the kitchen playing and one of them is inside a plastic dry cleaning bag with her face smothered in the film. Instead of worrying about suffocation they are told off in case any of the dry cleaning has been dumped on the floor! The home setting is amazingly kitch with no detail spared from the spoon rack to the croched blankets. It's brilliant.
Back to the office we have Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) desperate to climb up the company ladder I can't decide if I like or hate him. He can be really charming and sensitive at times and others he just opens his mouth, deliberately or not and firmly puts his foot in it. The bosses are all to aware of his shortcomings but he is blindingly aware of this.
We also meet Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) starting as a new secretary she is naive and girlish. Her new role as Donald Drapers assistant sees her hanging up his coat and hat, fixing his drink requests for ice and bumbling around to try and find her feet. She isn't fashion conscious and is so earnest and hardworking which just serves to highlight the behaviour of the rest of the office staff.
Leading to the femme fatale Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks). She sashays around the office of which she's manager, wigglling her hour class frame and flame red hair. Her outfits are to die for, as is her figure and she oozes confidence, charm and sex appeal. Her advice to the new Peggy is shorten your skirt and woman up. She manages to day to day office requirements with ease and oversees the secretaries with the right amount of gossip and advice.
Basically everyone smokes and it is quite amazing to see as it is now so taboo. The first big account that we see the agency working on is for Lucky Strike who are now no longer allowed to advertise that cigarettes are good for you and in a very smoky conference, with much coughing, the agency must work to try and counter act this negative publicity.
Each episode, which lasts about 45-50mins (without the ad breaks) follows our characters as they go about their daily grind in 60's America. The episodes touch on politics, ettiquet, womens and black peoples rights and how society functions. The settings are absolutely excellent with amazing props and products. It's so good to see the office with its' old typewriters and procedures, the old cars and the fabulous costumes. It really does transport you into another time.
I honestly didn't know what to expect and from the title Mad Men I'd ovelooked this boxset before as it really doesn't justify the delights within. I was hooked from the first episode and am now well into series 3 without dissapointment.
It's such an enjoyable series with snippets of information unfurling at just the right pace. There's very little music within each episode but they all end with a song and leave me wanting more.
Deeply, Dark and Disturbing - Season 1 Mad Men
I found this series and season a deeply dark and disturbing series to watch thorough. I watched it on a DVD set that was lent to us from a close friend. She had said it was best watched with a glass of cognac so you could ponder the issues that it raises. I would agree completely with this assessment. This played out on BBC4 in the UK which described it as "an unflinching look at the world of advertising in 1960s New York"
But despite its deep and dark undertones I found the series both watchable and addictive. The series explores the world of advertising in the early sixties. The Mad Men or Madison Street (New York) advertising professionals could equally be described as me who are truly mad in their behaviour.
The season explores issues that as a 21st century we just don't want to look at or accept. The series highlights the innate sexism and racism that existed in this era in the USA. But it does this by challenging in a very courageous manner. I don't want to give any spoilers as to me the series and season is worth watching blind. If you want that type of info then follow the IMDB link at the end. Whilst I know it was the 60's and everyone smoked, I think it over emphasis's this behaviour. I also found the attitude towards children as a little disturbing. The sexual antics of the people is shocking even by 21st century promiscuous standards. The serious does challenge this behaviour in a very subtle way.
Each season is short by American standards running for only 13 shows in the season.
Key Roles (my view)
There is quite a large cast, but for me the key persons are;
Don Draper (Jon Hamm)
His character develops in the season as being a truly flawed character, who never the less becomes someone who we can start to empathise with.
Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss)
Known for her part as the presidents daughter in the West Wing, she plays the role of Drapers secretary, with aspirations to write professionally.
Peter Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)
Better know from Angel, he plays the a really nasty guy, who has to do all of the dirty work of the agency, The role comes across as a professional and executive pimp.
Betty Drapper (January Jones)
Don's beautiful wife is played by the fabulous January Jones. She is the little wife who sits at home whilst her husband is out misbehaving. Adorable character !!!!!
Season 1, Episode 1: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Season 1, Episode 2: Ladies Room
Season 1, Episode 3: Marriage of Figaro
Season 1, Episode 4: New Amsterdam
Season 1, Episode 5: 5G
Season 1, Episode 6: Babylon
Season 1, Episode 7: Red in the Face
Season 1, Episode 8: The Hobo Code
Season 1, Episode 9: Shoot
Season 1, Episode 10: Long Weekend
Season 1, Episode 11: Indian Summer
Season 1, Episode 12: Nixon vs. Kennedy
Season 1, Episode 13: The Wheel
[if you want the spoilers]
I just loved to hate this. It's really addictive to watch and will both disturb you and provoke debate on what it explores.
I loved to watch with a glass of red wine and some nice pate and brie cheese. It is nostalgic of an era i will never know, that I would have loved to have been a part of for its courage and resilience to change history, but which I despise for its lake of fairness and equality.
I decided to watch Mad Men after a number of friends recommended it to me. I had seen clips of it before and thought its period setting (early 60s New York) and subject (the upper end of the advertising agency) looked really interesting. I usually begin my reviews of TV shows and films with the disclaimer that I may unintentionally give away spoilers; in the case of Mad Men, I have only watched the first episode so hopefully I won't give anything away! I wanted to do a review of the show at this point because I get the feeling that the characters are going to change a lot over the 3 seasons already filmed and I'd like to do another review (or add to this one later) to compare. It also gives me a chance to write without having to restrict myself to minimal details - I often forget what has happened at the very beginning of a series and don't want to spoil it for anyone who wants to watch it!
Mad Men is an American drama set in a New York advertising agency in the early 1960s. The period setting sets this apart from other American dramas stylistically and it really feels authentic. Everybody smokes everywhere - this is one of the most striking things about the show as smoking is so rarely shown on TV shows except to denote a 'bad guy'. But the series is set at a time when smoking was not only socially acceptable but actively encouraged. Indeed, the first episode sees the eponymous Mad Men (a term coined by the advertising executives of Madison Avenue to describe themselves) faced with a dilemma as research highlighting the link between smoking and lung cancer means that they can no longer get away with slogans that state that smoking is good for you.
Another aspect of the show that takes some getting used to is the way that the women in it behave in relation to men. This was an era before feminism really took hold - especially in this very male dominated workplace - and at first it is quite shocking to see how the secretaries of Sterling Cooper not only tolerate the way their colleagues objectify them but encourage it and use it to their advantage. One of the first things that Joan - an experienced secretary at Sterling Cooper - does is to impart some womanly advice to new secretary Peggy; this consists of telling her to show a little more leg and arranging an appointment with a doctor to get her on contraceptive pills! Although the women have to put up with a lot of flak from their chauvinist colleagues, they are not portrayed simply as victims or as robots. The first episode hints at the depth of each character rather than falling into easy stereotypes and shows that although women have to put up with a lot, the men are also struggling.
Some of the scenes are set in Sterling Cooper's meetings with clients and these scenes are really fun as the creative team headed by Don Draper come up with ingenious advertising slogans that mirror real ad campaigns of the time. Watching Draper come up with an inspired catchphrase for a tobacco company struggling in the face of damning scientific research is captivating to watch. The scenes also show the trickery and double-crossing perpetrated by the Mad Men to gain an edge over not only their rivals but also their colleagues. Although this is set in the 60s it is not much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that this kind of thing still goes on today. The 'boys nights out' to strip clubs and cocktail bars also seem like the kind of thing that may still go on today.
Having only watched the first episode, I can't give much more than first impressions but a few really stand out as characters that are going to be interesting over coming episodes.
Don Draper (Jon Hamm)
The first episode begins with Don Draper sitting alone in a smoky cocktail bar in New York. This immediately sets the tone of the show and marks Don as a major character. He is very dedicated to his work and is always looking for that next slogan which is going to make his clients rich. We also learn that he is very popular with the ladies and seems more respectful towards them than some of his colleagues. He is a man that knows how to 'play the game' and is well-respected as one of the best ad men in the business because of his great ideas as well as his charisma. He reminds me of a detective from a hard-boiled crime novel and has that same noir-ish edge to him which I find really interesting to watch. There are hints in this episode that there is much more to him than meets the eye, particularly at the end of the episode.
Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks)
Head of the typing pool and with an hourglass figure to rival Marilyn Monroe, Joan is smart, self-assured and knows how to get what she wants. As she takes the new girl on a whirlwind tour of the office, we find out that Joan knows exactly how to treat everyone in the office and as she points out one of her past mistakes (some kind of liaison with one of the junior executives) you get the feeling that there is something more beneath Joan's highly-polished exterior. Hendricks looks absolutely stunning with her flame-red hair and figure hugging outfits and I'm really looking forward to finding out more about her character.
Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss)
Peggy comes across as an innocent and somewhat naïve girl who is desperate to do well in her new job as secretary. She obviously has not become hardened as Joan has and will do anything to fit in - she goes along to the doctors to be prescribed the contraceptive pill but assure him that she is 'not that kind of girl'. She is played really well by Moss who manages to make a character that could be annoyingly naïve sympathetic. There is something about Peggy which hints that there is more to her than the cliché of the sweet girl who gets corrupted in the big city.
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)
A young, ambitious executive, Pete seems like the type of guy who will step on anyone to get where he wants to be and demonstrates this in more than one scene in this episode. He tries to get the upper hand but is outclassed by Draper in one instance and shot down by a woman in another. There is a menace to this character, which makes him really watchable and I can't wait to see what devious trick he pulls next.
After only one episode, I am really hooked! The writing is smart and sophisticated and the characters are well rounded. The period setting is a visual treat with beautiful outfits for the female characters and classic suits for the men. The show manages to tackle the social issues of the 60s without directly drawing attention to them. The dialogue is as snappy as you would expect and there are some really thrilling scenes as well as slow-burning character development.
This is an excellent series and I would highly reccomend anyone buy and watch this DVD
Mad Men is an extremely well produced, slick series set in the 1960s. The show is desgined to capture the culture of advertising in the 1960s. The first episode focuses on the attempts of advertising to get an entire population addicted to cigarette smoking, and the constant smoking is a theme that runs throughout the entire series. The other main focus is on the macho culture and the attitudes towards women in society and in the workplace. The series is centred around Donald Draper, a womaniser, and a strong silent type with a very mysterious past. The other most central character is Peggy Olson, she is a very intelligent and quiet young girl who moves to the city to work.
Throughout the series we, the viewers, are exposed to all the charcters in sufficient depth to be interested in them and to care what happens to them. We see all the characters struggling to fight for their position in the workplace, for their sanity and to keep their respective families happy and in tact.
Whilst Mad Men is a thoroughly deep and moving series it does not hook you immediately. I found the first episode to be fantastic then it slowed right down, and then by the fifth episode I had the I'll just watch one more episode syndrome. Each episode develops sveral interwoven plots and develops the characters whilst providing a different theme or focus wether it's smoking, deceipt or bohemian types.
I hope that if you are looking for something a little different to get your teeth stuck into, that I have persuaded you to take a look. Enjoy!
I understand how mad men could be perceived as a bit dull but if you manage to get past this for a couple of episodes the dullness will dissipate before your eyes. This drama is beautifully set and the attention to detail of the set is completely gobsmacking. The acting complements this and is of consistently high standard, particularly Don Draper, the main character who is very convincing.
The interesting thing about this drama is that it only half sets out to create an entertaining show, a lot of the entertainment and interest is generated by the situations and actually accurate fictional account of the advertising world.
Little touches really make for this drama. Perhaps the best instance of this is the election between JFK and Nixon, which becomes quite central to the plot and series. These real and easy to relate to events give the series a very realistic and convincing feel.
The DVD is well produced and well packaged, with a nice card outer casing and neatly designed DVD menu screens.
Mad Men is a sort of sexed up decade later Foyle's War, well I'm not too sure of my Foyle's War comparison but it moves at a similar speed and is closest thing in regard to soapbox tv viewing in eras that I can think of. The series follow the lives of ad men, in particular Don Draper - a man of few words, often shown being thoughtful but usually involved in the main situations. The film is based in the early 1960s but I thought it was the late 50s until I discovered this.
Brill creamed haired succesful ad men waltz around the office as if they are god's gift, come up with slogans and try to woo girls. Secretaries try to move their way up the ladder. Being based in the 1960s, it will have the great charm of Dad's Army in that it won't age because it's supposed to depict a bygone time. I wasn't around at the time, people tend to say that it's an authentic look at life in the 60s in big business, they don't seem to be doing an awful lot though other than drinking brandy, smoking cigars and mistreating female members of staff.
The characters are stylish and can be smooth talking when they want to be, yet quite pushy and vulgar at others. Each episode is quite long and it's generally quite a slow series, there's lots of naughtiness involved and supposedly taboo subjects for the time like pre-marital sex, homosexuality, cheating and nookie in the office. The first time I saw it, I thought - this is interesting, after watching a couple more episodes though, there's really not a lot going on and I don't think I'd bother to watch a second series - there is far better stuff to watch around at the moment.
Mad Men follows Don draper, a 1960's ad man who is gifted with a silver tounge. mysterious to his family and colleuges, a man who lves to get away from his previous life. The series consisted of 12 episodes is a period essemble with the attitude of the population of that era written all over it. Full of Homaphopia, racism and misogyny and the last guilt free years of the cigarette, full of flawed un pc characters who poulate the series throughout. The 12 episodes standalone with a diffrent sell with a thread running through it with the main protagonist don draper and his secrets that burden his life. The design is flawless really making you believe you are in the 1960's with ommaculate detail and nice touches throughout. The character development is slow but has a great pay off towards the end when storylines get even more depth. Jahn Hamm plays John Draper extremely well and crafts a seemingly perfect Man but with deep imperfections. Vincent Karthier plays the ambisious pete who always looks for ways to get promoted, a man trapped in a boys body his jealousy and pettiness makes him the perfect adversary for don draper. January Jones is the aming of the series, she plays Dons hard upon wife, bored of being the housewife constantly looking for meaning in her life not satisfied with being just a stay at home mum.
The stories usually weave real brands into the show and is also intresting how they were looked upon back then. Using bg brands to promote within the show it constantly brings up clever gimmicks that we in 2009 can still relate to.
The characters in the series are very un pc with women still regarded as a piece of meat its men who rule this era.
The dvd had some great features with Advertising the american dream and scoring mad men, it lets you intot he world and making of the Tv Series.
The series is smart and engrossing and one to buy on dvd
"Mad Men: A term coined in the late 1950's to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue"
Mad Men is an American drama series that has recently been shown in the UK on the BBC. It's written and produced by Matthew Weiner, who was also responsible for the final three spectacular seasons of The Sopranos. So we've got him to thank for the controversial non-ending in Season 6! The show takes place in the early 1960s, and centres around the employees of an Advertising company in New York called Sterling Cooper.
Mad Men offers a dual perspective of the tail end of the 1950s boom. On one side picturesque abundance, on the other a seedy underbelly of unfulfilled wishes. This sense of affluenza is expertly evoked in the title credits, which depicts the "successful businessman" falling to his doom from a skyscraper, passing adverts for pin-up girls, nylons, liquor, cigarettes and Cadillacs.
One of the best things about Mad Men is the setting, which seems really authentic and is executed brilliantly. Everybody smokes, everybody drinks - in the office of course! Mad Men does not ignore the racism and sexism that was rife at this time, African-American characters in the show are restricted to certain roles, for example housekeepers, bellboys and lift attendants. Men are men and women are either pin ups, homemakers or secretaries.
The series is full of cleverly devised moments, where it becomes clearly apparent that the show takes place in a different world to our own. There is one hilarious and memorable moment, where the office acquires a new machine - a photocopier - the huge device is soon surrounded by a host of comically bewildered staff.
Don Draper is probably the closest the series has to a main character, a 'strong silent type', played to perfection by Jon Hamm. I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say that Draper has a mysterious past which over the course of the first series he is forced to confront. Throughout the series, Don's distant relationship with his wife Betty is put under increasing strain by his disconnected and adulterous nature.
Peggy Olson is the 'new girl', a secretary who has just joined the company at the start of the series. Peggy is young and naïve, and from the moment she is shown to her desk has to cope with the overtly bold (and by todays standards, completely inappropriate) advances of her male colleagues. Peggy grows and changes throughout the season, and soon reveals an ambitious streak.
Pete Campbell is a young, well educated clean-cut salesman, and one of the most intriguing characters in the series. He is incredibly ambitious, and when he wants something, he gets it, no matter who gets hurt as a result. There are several points that reveal Pete as a slimy, self-interested, backstabbing type. His character, however, is much deeper than that, and I soon found that I empathised with him as I watched him suffer in quiet desperation from the expectations of his well to-do family.
There are tonnes of other great characters in the show - but I won't list them all! The dialogue in Mad Men is written expertly and subtly, and I soon found myself being drawn in to the characters fascinating and often messed up lives.
The Mad Men Season 1 DVD comes with commentaries for each episode, which are fairly interesting and give an insight into Matthew Weiner's vision. There are also a handful of short documentaries featuring the writers and ensemble cast of the series.
If you get the opportunity to get hold of this DVD, you shouldn't pass it up. It's been very well received and critically acclaimed, for good reason. The dialogue is witty and sharp, and the depth of the characters that is explored over the series is of a quality higher than most shows on at the moment. It's definitely worth a watch.