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Mad Men: Season One(TV) (2007)
What you are, what you want, what you love doesn't matter. It's all about how you sell it. Mad Men delves into the lives, loves and ambitions of a group of ruthlessly competitive men and women working in a 1960s advertising agency. Set on and around Madison Avenue - home of New York's ad agencies at the time, and the "Mad" of the title - the series was created by Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner and has gained rave reviews in the US. The series revolves around the complicated world of Don Draper, the biggest ad man (and ladies' man) in the business, and his colleagues at the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. As Don makes the plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, he struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels.
For more about Mad Men: Season One and the Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray release, see Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on July 11, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Directors: Matthew Weiner, John Slattery, Tim Hunter, Jon Hamm, Alan Taylor, Andrew Bernstein
Writer: Dahvi Waller
Starring: Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Aaron Staton, Christina Hendricks
» See full cast & crew
Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray Review
Welcome to 1960
Reviewed by Ben Williams, July 11, 2008
Who would have thought that a relatively low-profile television show about advertising executives in the early sixties would make such a splash? Mad Men premiered on the not-known-for-original-programming AMC network last year to nearly unanimous critical praise and went on to win major Golden Globe and SAG awards. The show has developed a loyal following and has brought AMC the largest audience in the network's history. So, what's the secret? What's so intriguing about this show? One only has to look at the pedigree of those involved to see what is so appealing. Series creator Matthew Weiner cut his teeth on none other than The Sopranos and went on to serve as the legendary HBO show's head writer and Executive Producer. Mad Men has been Weiner's pet project since the late nineties and his devotion to shaping an incredibly intricate narrative is apparent. I have to admit that I've been hooked since the first episode and am eagerly awaiting the upcoming second season. For those of you who have yet to experience the show, here's what you've been missing.
It's 1960 and the Madison Avenue advertising men, or, Mad Men, of the Sterling Cooper Agency live as masters of their domain. Between their four martini lunches, two pack-a-day smoking habits and their pervasive sexual harassment of female coworkers, these men happen to churn out the most effective advertising of their era. The king of them all is Don Draper (John Hamm), Creative Director of Sterling Cooper and the subject of admiration from all of his coworkers with the exception of Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). Pete is one of the firm's young Account Managers who desperately lusts for Don Draper's job and secretary Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss).
White the initial focus of the show revolves around office politics and the sexual roles of men and women in the sixties, Mad Men slowly expands it's focus as the season progresses. Routine sexual harassment in the office suddenly has consequences for both the men as well as the women and gender roles become confusingly blurred for the show's characters. Questions are also raised regarding Don Draper's mysterious past, his troubled marriage with his wife Betty (January Jones) and a troubling visitor who plagues his nightmares. What begins as a fairly straightforward social commentary morphs into one heck of a good mystery. Just who is this Don Draper guy, anyway?
Mad Men is just about as good as television gets these days. That's saying quite a bit as TV has never been better. Mad Men succeeds on a number of levels for me, but primarily as an intricately crafted character piece. The show takes it's time in developing characters - - they have weight and motivations that seem real. Don Draper, for example, is an extremely flawed man. Many movies and TV shows give us flawed characters and expect us to accept them. Mad Men succeeds in giving us plenty of reasons to admire a man that we also despise. There's a character in Mad Men for everyone. Be it Peggy Olsen's struggle to work her way out of the lowliest job at Sterling Cooper, Betty Draper's questioning attitudes on being a housewife or Don Draper's continual extramarital affairs, this show feels lived in and real. Of course, if drama isn't your main concern, Mad Men serves up a tremendous amount of style. The whole show is dressed in the Mid-Century Modern furnishings of the era and period details literally fill every shot. All of these details add up to a convincing portrayal of life in 1960. Maybe it's sensational, maybe it's completely unrealistic, maybe it's preachy, but it sure is entertaining and thought-provoking. Mad Men is, quite simply, one of the best shows currently on television and is one that I proudly give my highest recommendation.
Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mad Men arrives on Blu-ray in it's intended aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Video has been encoded at 1080p using the AVC/Mpeg-4 compression scheme. I wasn't fortunate enough to be able to view Mad Men in HD when it was broadcast on AMC this past year. Having seen the show entirely in heavily compressed 480i over satellite, I wasn't quite prepared for how fantastic this show looks. Mad Men just about leaps off the screen in 1080p. All of the show's meticulous period details fill the frame wonderfully. The show is filmed with a muted color palette that mimics color film of the era. Grain is present and naturally presented as well.
As I made my way through Mad Men's thirteen episodes, I was startled at just how well this presentation has been put together. Black levels remain consistent and deep throughout the series. Lionsgate has managed to keep annoying edge enhancement, digital noise reduction or any kind of encoding-induced nonsense out of the set as well. Once again, the strengths of the Blu-ray format shine through in this stellar collection of episodes. Not only is the Mad Men Blu-ray set superior to any HD broadcast you might manage to catch, it actually represents the best way to view this visually stunning series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Lionsgate hasn't skimped at all in the audio department with this Blu-ray release of Mad Men. Presented in lossless DTS HD Master Audio, this Blu-ray edition gives the viewer the opportunity to hear every nuance of this very dialogue driven show. Kudos to Lionsgate for sticking with their lossless audio standards, even for a show that other studios wouldn't have thought necessitated the lossless treatment.
Of course, Mad Men isn't going to ever be accused of rocking anyone's subwoofer or blowing windows out. It is, of course, primarily dialogue driven and features very little, if any, surround activity. What it does feature, is extremely well written dialogue that is presented perfectly on this Blu-ray disc. Voices are always intelligible with every subtle phrase and utterance well represented. The show's exceptional musical score is also nicely featured within the mix. Ultimately, while not being rock 'em sock 'em demo material, Mad Men on Blu-ray gets the job done perfectly.
Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Lionsgate certainly didn't skimp on the extras for Mad Men. There are a huge number of outstanding supplements included on this Blu-ray set that cover just about every aspect of the show's production. If you're a fan of commentaries, then you might consider scheduling some vacation time to keep up with the nearly 20 hours of commentary offered up for Mad Men.
Here's what's included:
- Audio Commentaries (23 in total) - As if to throw down the gauntlet and challenge every other studio to a commentary track war, Lionsgate has delivered a whopping 23 commentary tracks for the Mad Men Blu-ray set. Just about every cast member from the series has something to say here as do the directors, writers, costume designers an production designers. Each episode features at least one commentary, with most episodes including two.
- Establishing Mad Men (HD) - This outstanding feature goes into meticulous detail on the preparations that go into filming an episode of this amazing show. If you are a fan of the look and feel of Mad Men, then this is a must-watch feature.
- Advertising the American Dream (HD) - More of a history lesson than a behind-the-scenes feature, this short documentary covers the role of advertising on American culture.
- Scoring Mad Men (HD) - Composer David Carbonara is highlighted in this short exploration of his techniques and influences. I'm a fan of the music from Mad Men so I found this particularly interesting.
- Music Sampler - This particular feature is a bit of a missed opportunity in that it only features 30 second clips of music from the show. Why not include the entire soundtrack?
- Pictures of Elegance - Simply a high definition photo gallery of production stills and behind the scenes snapshots from Mad Men.
- Mad Men Season Two Preview (HD) - This one is almost not worth mentioning as it is only a minute in length and features no footage from season two.
Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Mad Men is one of the most creative, thought-provoking and original shows currently gracing the television landscape. It combines a keen sense of historical perspective and a sharp eye for period details. Everything about Mad Men is a tour-de-force in meticulous, expert filmmaking. Frankly, it's a breathtaking show to experience. Lionsgate has given this amazing series its due with this stellar Blu-ray set. Featuring reference grade video and above average audio, this set achieves a level of excellence often reserved for theatrical blockbusters. In addition, the supplemental features in this set are some of the most extensive and worthwhile I've ever had the pleasure to experience. Mad Men is an outstanding series and one that I hope will find a huge audience on Blu-ray. I wholeheartedly give Mad Men my highest recommendation!
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Mad Men: Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - July 1st, 2008 - July 1, 2008
Before there were Sopranos, there were Mad Men. Well, sort of. Series creator Matthew Weiner wrote the pilot back in 2000 while working as a staff writer for the TV show "Becker". David Chase, creator of 'The Sopranos', read the script, and was so impressed by ...
• Mad Men Coming to Blu-ray this July - April 2, 2008
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the first season of the Golden Globe-winning show 'Mad Men' to Blu-ray on July 1st, day-and-date with the DVD release. The show, from Matthew Weiner, the Emmy award-winning executive producer and writer ...
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