I watched the last episode of what I hope is the first of many series of "Mad Men" last night. It's one of those immersive experiences where it feels like you're coming out of a deep sleep when the credits roll. Think "Lost". Think "Deadwood". Think "The West Wing". Think "The Sopranos". My Sunday evenings won't be quite the same again.
The atmosphere of 1960 New York is immaculately done in outrageous multi-layers of reality, down to nicotine-stained fingers and vintage nightwear. Ignore the joyless pedants who point out that the typewriters featured are more 1980 than 1960.
The characters are complex and unlovable, the dialogue is as sharp as the suits and the plot is revealed at a leisurely pace and doesn't get in the way of superb character development.
A major feature is poking fun at the sexism, racism and basic nastiness of the period, but rather than feeling smug, you realise that it's not aliens being depicted here. These people are very much "us"; we are just as guilty but we're a lot more subtle about it these days. Do you think anyone writing in 2056 would be nice about the way we live today ?
Jon Hamm acts his socks off as Don Draper, the complex, cynical Artistic Director of the agency ("What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons")
The supporting cast is none too shabby and includes some excellent female roles :-
- Elisabeth Moss who has matured as an actress considerably since her toe-curlingly rotten portrayal of Zoey Bartlett in "The West Wing".
- The office Femme Fatale and Queen Bee, Joan (played by the jaw-droppingly beautiful Christina Hendricks)
- Don Draper's childlike ex-model wife Betty (played by January Jones - what a name!)
- (my favourite character) Rachel Menken - Draper's mistress (played by Maggie Siff) - a clever, witty, strong client of Draper's agency. Their relationship is complex and based on more than just lust. She's very much a match for him.
Even the theme tune is amazing - "A Beautiful Mine" by RJD2 - you can listen on YouTube.
DVD out on 30th June - buy it !