Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nothing can curb these Mad Men

So it's the new television season and I am really not watching all that much. Two of the shows I was really looking forward to, Journeyman and Life have already lost me. As well, I have missed most episodes of returning favourites like How I Met Your Mother and Prison Break.

However, two of the shows I have watched regularly are the AMC series Mad Men and the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

First, a word about Curb (as two of my work colleagues who love the show refer to it as). I have never enjoyed the show. I tried watching it in season's previously. I found it like an episode of Seinfeld, centering on the character of George Costanza. I enjoyed the improvisational style but the show never really grabbed me.

This season, I have been watching every episode...hoping, praying that I would see what everyone sees that is so funny. I realize the show is written by and stars Larry David. But the show feels like every plot from every Seinfeld episode thrown into a hat and bits from two or three different Seinfeld shows are mixed together to create a new show. On top of that, I don't find Larry David entertaining. I realize you are not supposed to like his character. I just don't care about his character...he does social unacceptable things that I don't believe any human would ever do. And the only reason he does these things is to make the show work. But for me, it doesn't.

However, Mad Men is a show I absolutely love. It takes place surrounding the employees of a Madison Avenue advertising agency called Sterling Cooper. The year is 1960, it is post war but pre-women's lib and pre-summer of love. Their is excessive drinking and smoking by all characters. Women and people of colour are treated as second class citizens.

So, aside from just the shock of seeing people say and do things that are so foreign these days...the show is an expertly written analysis of how people were handling a time when you could tell that everything was about to change. That the world was going to become a new place and you could either try and adapt to the times or stay the way you had always been.

I really wish I could talk more about the writing of the show but in doing so, I would give away some of the great twists and turns.

Below is a scene from the final episode. The show's main character, Don Draper (played by John Hamm) is pitching to the company Kodak on how they would try and advertise their new slide projecter machine. Draper, if you haven't watched the show, is one of the best in the business. He is well respected in his own company as well as by other. He has a beautiful wife and two kids but he seldom looks happy and has affairs. This sales pitch is so good, he almost sells himself on the importance of family and love.

This speech alone should be enough to garner Hamm an Emmy Award nomination. Emmy thoughts should also go to the January Jones who plays his wife Betty Draper. Jones has that look of a typical 60s housewife but behind her can see so much more. Blonde, beautiful but in denial of what is really going on.

Kudos to the creaters of Mad Men to include Robert Morse in the cast. If you don't know who Robert Morse is, he won a Tony Award in 1962 for his role in the musical How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. To have a TV show set in 1960 where he is the partner in an advertising firm is sheer brilliance.

The 13 episode first season has just concluded. All episodes are available on Demand as well as on I Tunes. The rumour regarding its second season is that it will not take place right after the events of the first season. Rather, two years later. The show is set to run over 5 seasons. The rumour being that each season will take place two years later so throughout the course of the show, the entire decade of the 60s is covered.

Here is an interview with series creator Matthew Weiner for more information about the show's first season.

Top 5 Best Picture Academy Award nominated films of the 60s
1. Midnight Cowboy (winner 1969)
2. The Graduate (lost to In The Heat of The Night, 1967)
3. In The Heat of The Night (winner, 1967)
4. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (lost to A Man For All Seasons, 1966)
5. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb (lost to My Fair Lady, 1964)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mad Men is the greatest show on TV at this time.

5:41 PM  

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