Friday, July 25, 2008

Mad About 'Mad Men'

Welcome to Post No. 500!

It's kind of appropriate that we celebrate this milestone with a milestone of television — the debut of Season 2 of "Mad Men" (AMC, Sun., 10 p.m.) this weekend.

"Mad Men" took the TV world by storm last year as AMC's first original drama series. Created by former "Sopranos" writer Matt Weiner, it was a stylish look at the early 1960s, where sexism, prejudice and other vices reigned supreme. It provided star-making turns for most of its cast, including the likes of Jon Hamm (an Emmy nominee), January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser and others.

The series follows the exploits of Don Draper (Hamm), a star in the world of advertising with the seemingly perfect home life. But underneath it all, Don's got a lot of problems. For one thing, he isn't really Don Draper; he took the real Draper's dog tags after getting wounded in Korea in order to get away from his miserable family. He also has a series of mistresses, a pig of a boss (Emmy nominee John Slattery, in the performance of his career) and a young rival desperately trying to steal his job (Kartheiser).

But "Mad Men" is more than Don's story. Each character, from the eager young secretary looking to further her career (Moss) to the quietly frustrated, loyal wife (Jones), it's a richly textured group of characters and subplots. "Mad Men" deftly mixes pathos and humor, and hopefully you caught up on Season 1 during AMC's marathon run last Sunday.

If you didn't, you won't be completely lost. Season 2 begins over a year after Season 1 ended, with the action moving up to 1962 and the height of Camelot in America. Considering Don's firm, Sterling Cooper, ran the Nixon campaign in 1960, that may not be a good thing.

"Mad Men" is likely the leading contender in the Emmys for Best Drama, and after its terrifically executed first season, it's easy to see why. Here's looking forward to more of the same in Season 2.

AROUND THE DIAL: Former Oscar nominee Harvey Keitel has been named the replacement for Colm Meaney on the US version of "Life on Mars." I had low expectations for this version of one of my favorite UK series, but Meaney was the one bright light for me. ... Erika Tamura (the princess on "Heroes") and Sean Patrick Thomas ("Save The Last Dance") are joining the cast of "Reaper" this season. ... "Smallville's" producers told that, in addition to the appearances of Green Arrow, Black Canary and Aquaman this season, familiar DC characters such as Plastique and Maxima will also meet the future Man of Steel.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: One of the best-done cliffhangers I've ever seen takes place tonight on "Doctor Who" (Sci Fi, 9 p.m.), the first of the two-part season finale in which Earth disappears and it's up to the Doctor (David Tennant) and pretty much every other guest star the series has ever had to make sure it gets back. After you see the end of the episode, my advice is to avoid the internet for the next week. It's followed by a new "Stargate: Atlantis" at 10 p.m.

"Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.) has guest star David Strathairn as a chessmaster, followed by a new "Psych" at 10 p.m.

Worried that you missed "Swingtown" last night? Don't be - it's been moved to Fridays at 10 p.m.

Gone into "Lost" withdrawal? (Yeah, me too.) Anyway, a behind-the-scenes special about the series is airing tonight at 10 p.m. on G4.

On Saturday, "Robin Hood" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) begins part one of the two-part second season finale as Robin and the gang set off to the Holy Land in search of King Richard.

On Sunday, "Masterpiece: Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.) wraps things up with the series finale of "Foyle's War."

Mary (Mary McCormick) has a fling with a protectee on "In Plain Sight" (USA, 10 p.m.)

Finally, a new episode of the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill" (HBO, 9 p.m.) airs.


zodin2008 said...

The best show of 2007 was "Mad Men". No question this is a fact.

A close second were shows such as "Friday Night Lights", "Battlestar Galactica", "Lost" and "The Shield", but this was the show I thought about more than anything.

The cast is fantastic and I would have been especially pleased to additionally see Emmy nods for Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss & Vincent Kartheiser, but 16 total nods including best dramatic series, and emmy nominations for Slattery and Hamm are very satisfying.

Despite having already witnessed the beauty of season 1, my wife and I had our TV's turned to AMC last Sunday and re-watched portions of last season's episodes - still just as enjoyable.

Now last Summer, with no writer's strik and USA not having cancelled "The 4400" and "The Dead Zone", plus all the HBO stuff was running on time as well as "rescue Me", but despite arguably the best summer for TV, "Mad Men" easily was better than everything.

This summer's been the complete opposite. HBO and FX pushed their shows back, USA got rid of their higher quality stuff like "The 4400" and "The Dead Zone", and "Monk and "Psych" are now officially, unwatchable, leaving the only 2 actual 'good' shows on the last several weeks being "My Boys" and "Burn Notice". (and by default, I have been watching fluff like "Swingtown" and staying with dreck like "Psych", with so little on.)

"Mad Men" finally gives us a great show, and on a different night. Everything has been on Thursdays and last summer, "Mad Men" aired on Thursdays. But AMC is doing a rather smart thing. They are grabbing that infamous HBO spot - 10 PM EST on Sunday nights - and airing the best show on Television, a show that HBO is now kicking themselves hard for passing up on.

(the 16 emmy nominations had to really sting HBO - they get what they deserve for passing on a show like "Mad Men" and instead picking up trash like "John from Cinncinati" and "Flight of the Concords").

Coastbunny said...

Congrats on Blog 500!

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, the guys at HBO who passed on Mad Men are the previous administration for a reason.

CB - thanks, it only seems like 500,000!