Mad Men: Season 1
DVD + Blu-ray
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The ground-breaking new show from AMC that critics are calling "an instant classic" is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Set in 1960 New York City, MAD MEN explores the glamorous and ego-driven "Golden Age" of advertising, where everyone is selling something and nothing is ever what it seems. And no one plays the game better than Don Draper (Golden Globe - winner Jon Hamm), Madison Avenue's biggest ad man - and ladies man - in the business.
Stills from Mad Men (click for larger image)
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- Mad Men Series Commentary," audio commentaries on all 13 episodes
- "Establishing Mad Men," featurette exploring the world of Mad Men
- "The Desire of the American Dream," featuring the 1960's creative revolution in media
- "Pictures of Elegance," photo gallery with commentaries from the costume, hair and production designers
- "Scoring Mad Men" Featurette
- Mad Men Music Sampler
- 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio
- 1080P High Definition 16x9 Widescreen Episodes
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The main subject is the self-awakening of Dan Draper, the creative head of the concepts department of a Madison Avenue advertising firm. Dan Draper is played by Jon Hamm, a very good actor with a lot of live-theater experience. Hamm is a commanding presence, looks the part, and is up to the challenges of this demanding role. Dan Draper is a talented man functioning brilliantly in his professional career, but he is an alcoholic, a dysfunctional husband (although a reasonably good father), and a compulsive womanizer. We learn, as he learns, from his mental flashbacks that occur from time to time, that he is a man escaping from a very difficult childhood. We root for him despite his flaws because he is troubled and displays an innate decency at key moments. By the end of series 4 he has achieved a certain level of self-awareness, and we the audience have been on an interesting journey.
Personally, I think they should have stopped with series 4, but that's a different story.
The rest of the ensemble cast is generally excellent. There are many interesting sub-plots. We follow the rise from secretary to Dan Draper's co-worker of Peggy. Its a struggle all the way for her in the pre-Feminist world of the early 60s.
I have the Blu-ray versions of seasons 1 through 4, which I purchased individual. Each season is 13 episodes spread across 3 Blu-ray discs. The picture quality and sound quality are fine. There is an optional commentary track for each episode. The presentation is fine.
He plays the part of a man with a plan to the hilt. The trouble is, he has a past he is running away from, and as he states in an episode with someone from his past, "There's only one direction my life is moving, and that's forward." The show also reminds us of the introduction of popular ads we now view as commonplace. There's Lucky Strikes, coffee brands, women's clothing. They've obviously done their research because I feel renewed pride in my work from watching how this show reflects we all have an important role in what we do, only sometimes need to be reminded. This show not only entertains you, but for me has reminded me where I've been and where I am now, and what's more, I can be proud of who I am. In short, I haven't watched a show like this where I feel good about who I am and how I dress in a very long time.
This I will honestly say: For my nickel, Mad Men is quite possibly one of the greatest things to come along in many years. I would almost say it just might be the Twin Peaks of its age. Though set (for starters) more than 50 years ago in March, 1960, Mad Men is that fresh, that funky – that much pure fun to watch. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good “period drama.”
I'm not going to add to the ample reviews of this show. Instead, I would like to comment on the generous extras included in the DVD set.
I debated a long time before buying the DVDs since I own the season on iTunes. I'm glad I bought the DVDs -- the commentaries and extras make it worth every penny.
Each episode has at least one commentary track, usually two separate commentary tracks. And there are other extras - a 20-minute piece, "Advertising the American Dream", a 10-minute video on scoring Mad Men, and the hour-long 'Establishing Mad Men'--all excellent.
A word about the commentaries -- the ones by creator and writer Matt Weiner are superb, very insightful and interesting. I haven't listened to all the other commentaries yet. Of the ones I have listened to, Weiner's are definitely the best, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, and Jon Hamm also provide interesting depth. The brilliant costume designer Janie Bryant also provides wonderful commentary.
I wish some of the other commentaries had been edited, though. For instance, in Jon Hamm's, January Jones', and Elizabeth Moss' commentary on the last episode, 'The Wheel', Elizabeth Moss' comments on the padding used to show her weight gain. This is an interesting aside, but Moss' commentary goes on far too long and it's all trivial, with no insights into Peggy's character. She repeats the same stories again and again--for well over 10 minutes. Her commentary drones through an important part of the Draper story (Don looking at old photos of his brother). It's a shame that we miss Hamm's commentary during that emotionally moving portion of the episode.
But that's my only criticism, one small quibble. The DVD set is marvelous and if you're a Mad Men fan it will add substantially to your enjoyment and insight into the show.