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In the fifth season of “Mad Men” Matt Weiner & Co bring us the best of the series yet. 1966-67 finds Sterling, Cooper, Draper, & Pryce much better established after their breakaway from the old Sterling-Cooper and growing their business. This season seems to have a theme of new beginnings starting with Don now married to former secretary and wannabe actress; beautiful and young Megan (or the “Canadian sexpot” to quote Roger). Speaking of Roger, he’s decided after an illuminating LSD trip to divorce his much younger wife Jane and move on. Betty’s now married to Henry Francis is having her own mid-life crisis and has gained weight with resulting unhappiness. Peggy faces her own fork in the road and makes a major career decision which will start a new chapter in her life. Joan has a new baby, returns to work at the agency, and finds her marriage to her absentee Army surgeon husband going down the tubes.

Don starts this fifth year of the show on his 40th birthday where his 26 year old wife (Jessica Pare’ who’s as pretty as the former Mrs. Draper and expresses far greater warmth) throws him a surprise party (which he loathes) and performs a seductive song and dance routine for him and the crowd (Google it, she does a nice job). He seems to be happier than we’ve ever seen him, not drinking as much, and amazingly not indulging in the serial infidelity for which he’s become famous. Picking up the slack in that arena is Pete Campbell; always a bit of a jerk he’s bringing his “A”-game to work but his personal life is not satisfying him. Trudy’s made him leave NYC for the Connecticut suburbs so their new baby can grow up in the fresh air and Pete hates it. He has an unexpected encounter with the wife of a fellow commuter from the train (played by Alexis Bledel of “Gilmore Girls” fame who in mid 60’s wardrobe and coif looks like a young Jackie Kennedy) and tries to put the moves on an 18 year old in his driver’s ed class. Lane Pryce faces his own personal troubles of a financial nature and makes a very poor decision that will have serious ramifications for him.

As usual, the attention to detail in set dressing and wardrobe is incredible. If you were in your youth back then you will recognize so many things from that time which will have you waxing nostalgic. For example, Howard Johnson’s is a client so Don and Megan pay a visit which gets Don excited about eating orange sherbet. Ho-Jo’s were ubiquitous back then with their famous orange roofs and today there’s only one restaurant left operating, so sad. Watching Pete on the train seeing the Long Island Rail Road logo in the car brought back memories growing up just a few stops away from his in Cos Cob home. Don’s pitch of the Jaguar campaign really connected with me; he describes testing the iconic XKE Jag and passing a 10 year old boy staring at the car as he passes by. I had that same experience and can remember seeing an E-Type Jag for the first time, it started a lifelong interest in automobiles for me.

Some fellow reviewers didn’t like this season and didn’t think much happened which is surprising. There was lots of character development and we got to know more about almost every key player at SCDP. Also some dislike Ms. Pare’ and don’t think she’s attractive or find the role of Megan annoying but to me she was a welcome change from the frosty, detached Betty (January Jones). Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Mos are just excellent and keep getting better in these parts. John Slattery plays Roger as such a lovable rogue you can’t help but like him. Vincent Kartheiser tackles the challenge of playing Pete Campbell and takes an insufferable butthead and manages to make him engaging (you’ll still enjoy the thrashing he gets not once, but twice). And finally, Christina Hendricks as Joan has evolved into a complex character who can get by on her looks but has plenty of brains and isn’t afraid to use them. I’m looking forward to seeing where these terrific actors takes us in Season 6.
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on June 30, 2012
While this wasn't my favorite season, it's still an easy five stars since it's in the top 3 of best shows currently on television. I know there have been a lot negative reactions towards this season, and I think maybe it's for a few reasons. Lots of people despise Megan. And others say that "nothing really happened". I don't really like Megan either, but I've come to accept her character. She is SUPPOSED to be annoying (or at least can easily be interpreted as so). We don't have to like her. As far as nothing happening, plenty of things happened, although I admit it was a little slow-paced, but I think it's building up for better seasons to come.

This season takes place between Memorial Day 1966 and Spring 1967. The season focuses on Don Draper and Megan's relationship and how distracting it is from his job, and most of the main characters are facing painful new beginnings and realize it's a "dog-eat-dog" world. The season starts out light (probably because of how dark season 4 was), but by the end of the season things are gloomier than ever. So never fear, Mad Men isn't going soft.

Don - one reason I enjoyed season 4 so much is that we had a break from Don being in a dramatic, serious relationship. He was just casually dating and we were able to see more of SCDP. Now he's married to Megan, and that opens up a lot more storylines. You'll either love or hate Megan. She shows signs of being very independent and mature, but then will surprise you by suddenly doing something very stupid and childish. The big question is: how long is it until Don cheats on her? I don't believe that Don will be in a monogamous relationship for the rest of his life. It's also interesting how it's reminiscent of the beginning of his relationship with Betty. Betty was a beautiful young model and Don swept her up. When Betty got older and he got bored, he lost interest. Megan is also a very young girl, an actress, and pretty (in Don's eyes). What's going to happen to his fidelity to Megan in a couple years? Or 10? Or even by the end of the season? When Don loses respect for someone, a lot of feelings for them deteriorate quickly.

Don also has to deal with Megan's Canadian parents, who have a very bizarre marriage and her father is not a total believer in Don. He thinks Megan took the easy way out by marrying a rich guy. Megan's mother is also incredibly insecure, which is a recurring theme throughout the season.

Betty - since January Jones is pregnant, they decided to put her in a fat suit to hide it, and turn that into a storyline. Perfect Betty has to deal with being overweight, which makes for some interesting television. Her appearances are very sparse, however, and you can go episodes without seeing her at all. There is a lot of pressure on Betty to compete with Megan, especially when her children are involved. As far as Sally goes, she goes through a lot of childhood development this season. Glen the creepy kid also makes a couple appearances, and their relationship is really open for interpretation. Kiernan Shipka is also a great young actress. We also get to see Henry Francis' mother a little bit, especially when she babysits Sally.

Pete - Pete is...well, Pete. But cockier than ever. He feels that all is owed to him, even as only a junior partner. He gets incredibly demanding this season and enters into some interesting affairs. Pete is honestly one of the most difficult characters for me to empathize with, especially this season. Almost every thing he does is just obnoxious, not to mention he is a total hypocrite. Vincent Kartheiser is great, however.

Peggy - as my favorite character, I liked what they did with her this season. She has to balance romance and work in a very sexist society, and makes some life changing decisions several times throughout the season. I love how strong Peggy is, and in these days she would easily be a partner already. Peggy also is Megan's boss...which is really quite inappropriate and causes a lot of awkwardness in the office.

Joan - remember that jerk she's married to? Yeah. They're still married when the season starts, unfortunately. Joan is strong though, and without spoiling anything, she makes some very questionable and life altering decisions this season regarding her romantic and work life. I think her and Peggy learn the most this season about how when it boils down to it, it's every wo/man for themselves.

Lane - bitter about not getting the greatest deal out of this partnership, Lane makes some...questionable business decisions this season. He becomes much more prevalent later in the season, and without spoiling much, he gets into a very....entertaining "discussion" with Pete. I think Jared Harris is amazing for this role.

Roger - talked into taking LSD with Jane, Roger has a very memorable and insightful trip. Although the acid trip was a little stereotypical, there's nothing funnier than watching Roger doing acid. The trip also has longer implications for him in the season. Additionally, Roger enters into a very odd romantic relationship with an unexpected character.

And it's not just the characters that will suck you in and keep you watching. The context of show is amazingly interesting. We get to see references to the Richard Speck murders, Charles Witman's shooting rampage, toxic clouds of smog over NYC, the Hare Krishnas, and the Rolling Stones. Also some interesting clients this season: Heinz, Jaguar, Mohawk Airlines, American Cancer Society, Manischewitz, Dow Chemical, and Virginia Slims.

You could watch this show for the amazingly intricate characters, the interesting portrayal of life in the 60s, or both. This show is highly entertaining, addictive, and one of the best on television today.
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on December 17, 2012
<SPOILER ALERT> Too bad Mad Men lost the Emmy to the timely Homeland. In my humble opinion, this was by far its best season yet. We had the always-astonishing Roger tripping his a** off on LSD - and in the process getting out of another loveless marriage. Joan's sudden, troubling personal affairs that lead her to make exasperatingly difficult, life-altering decisions. Betty (who would have thought it?) battling a weight problem paired with her eccentric (to put it mildly) Mother-in-Law, a fascinating character, without an empathetic bone in her body. She's so detached. Is it elitism or something much more nefarious like the onset of dementia? The profoundly sad downfall of Lane, not before giving Pete the punch in the nose that he's had coming for years. Then the kicker final scene - Don's transcendentally styled departure from his new wife - he walked -literally- right past the camera and seemingly out of her new career, and life; tremendously brave direction that worked on every level. Will Don acquiesce to a lovely young woman's advances in a cocktail lounge?

Congratulations to the talented group of writers, actors and others behind the scene that pulled this season together. It seems like an eternity before Season Six arrives. The good news is we all have these archives at our disposal!

The bonus gallery, commentary, short features and the Canadian Club recipes complete the package.
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on December 17, 2016
Just like all previous seasons of Mad Men, I can watch this over and over again. There is nothing like it on TV. Matthew Weiner is absolutely a genius. The shows are great. The commentaries are great too. They are listed under special features on the Main Menu. I really enjoy watching the commentaries, especially the ones done by Matthew Weiner. This man is so funny and brilliant. Some things are explained in the commentaries that I may not have understood while watching the show. Also, they tell quite a bit about how the show is actually made. Matthew Weiner's son, Marten Weiner plays Sally Draper's friend, Glen. Marten is fantastic in his part. Just absolutely adorable. He breaks my heart in how he plays the part. All the cast is great, actually. I am anticipating more from Mr. Weiner. You can not go wrong with Mad Men. It's the best TV can be. A big thank you to cast, crew, and most of all, Mr. Matthew Weiner.
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on June 12, 2012
This was a visceral season. There are several scenes I winced and I'm no shrinking violet. The duplicity and social expectations equate to a group of together yet divided assemblage of characters. Subtle symbolism, brilliant costume design and steady revelatory character development remain unchanged from previous seasons. Story continuity arcs but remains consistent.

Paul Kinsey goes Hare Krishna, while Harry gets one in the kisser after giving it from behind over his desk. 'Alas, whining, unlikeable Harry is a true friend to insecure, whinier Paul.

Lane crosses the line out of pride and desperation, aided by a drunken banker. Cooper foreshadows Lane's bitter future in this episode.

The costumes are quietly telling. Don's lapels grow narrower, with black, blue and silver striped ties. Pete moves from bold blue suits to drab, conservative black suits. He and Don swap more than attire, they switch lives. Pete riding the train to the suburbs to his hum-drum family life and eerily familiar house interior. Don enjoys life in a swank apartment in the city with his lovely new wife. Although Don's tenuous acceptance of his role as the Man In the Gray Flannel Suit is challenged by Megan's youthful opposition to consumerism, seeking actualization in acting not advertising.
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on November 26, 2012
Seriously, I loved Season 5. After reading a lot of negative reviews, I wasn't sure I would like it at all; but I can now say it's my favorite season since the very first.

This is a good DVD set, with the usual (for Mad Men) complement of interesting features and commentary tracks, along with decent packaging, video quality, and sound. (I used to take such things for granted, but I've been disappointed often enough with other disks that I now feel that I should point these things out when they're done right.)

I do have two small nitpicks about the DVDs:

1. Some of the Special Features on the disks contain spoilers for episodes that are on later disks. That is, if you watch the Special Features on Disk 2 (for example) before watching the episodes on Disks 3 and 4, you will see things that you might not want to know about yet. I recommend that you watch the entire season's episodes first, and then go back and watch the Special Features.

2. I'm not completely dependent on closed captions, but I do keep them on and I sometimes find them very helpful. However, I found a lot of errors in the captions on these disks. Most are minor, and only mildly confusing (example: "AMP" instead of "A&P"); but if you can't hear at all, you may find the errors annoying and frustrating.
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on November 7, 2012
It's now season 5 of the ad men and women of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. We're now in the mid-60's and the world continues to change. Our heroes have to go with the times and creative advertising for a changing world. Although I love the show, MADMEN seems to be slowing down. It seems like only troubled, narcisstic and egotistic men can find work in advertising along with one lady and a sexy female office manager. Few of these characters are likeable and all have morality issues yet we seem to like them. John Hamm continues to be a winner as the trouble Don Draper. Draper has long been on top of his game but now he is facing middle age and a new generation of consumers. After a surprise marriage to his secretary Megan, he now has the chance for love and happiness and domestic stability. He has it all but still has to fight his inner demonds.
Lovely Jessica Paré brings warmth and fresh air to the series and Megan Draper. Maybe this marriage will work if Don gives it a chance. Former wife Betty is also remarried and know struggles with a weight problem and a disagreeable daughter.
Christina Hendricks is as gorgeous and vuluptuous as ever as Joan Harris. She's another troubled soul who runs hot and cold and has a love/hate relationship with men.
It is fun to take a step back in time to see characters dressed in mid-60's styles dealing with issues of the day. I am amazed that the show is able to use real products. Ad campaigns center around well-known products of the day and many are still in existence. The fight for the JAGUAR contract while admitting JAGUARS are beautiful and sexy cars that are mechanical nightmares. How do they get away with that?
Our season doesn't even end with any cliffhanger...more of just a "what next?" attitude. I still like the show but it seems to need an infusion of energy and drama.
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on June 14, 2012
The last two episodes, watched them back-to-back . . . just a world spinning out of control. A feeling of chaos and disappointment in these people. But it's a door, right? A door into, oh my God, almost the '70s. Those poor people! I'm old enough to remember the tone of the late '60s, though I was under 7 years. It doesn't really matter what the plot does, or if it's even realistic -- Pete and Beth in the hospital scene is about as far-out as it's gotten -- just as long as it gets the tone right, and it sure did get the tone right.

Nobody seems to mention this, but the character who still has a "long way to go, baby" is Sally. I'm very relieved that there is another season to come, because Sally is about to take center stage, and it's about time she did. I thought I saw shades of "American Pastoral," with the kid who blows up the local post office, but she's softening a bit. This little actress, Kiernan Shipka, is going places if she masters the complexities of Sally. I sort of envision a series finale where she buries her dad in about 1985 and tries to make sense of her life as an independent and insightful woman while finding out just who this man was. (And as for that simple kid Glenn, he provided the one bright moment when he merely asked for what he wanted and, against all odds, got it. I felt as if I were in that car with him, smiling inside.)

If anyone misses the Don Draper Depression-era flashbacks, we have the return of Adam here. . . . We can only hope the flashbacks intensify, to tie up that loose end somehow.

I confess to have fallen a little in love with Lane, poor guy. He was so honestly in pain amid all the fakery, and even sexy in that moment where he kissed Joan. He felt he had failed somehow to "be a man," I suppose, but in truth he was a knight. I'm going to miss him. That picture of "Dolores" still in his wallet! In his wife's ironic fantasy, he gets to be with Dolores. At least there's that.

Is Megan's cynical, so-very-French mother really played by Julia Ormond? Did anyone else catch that? Or Embeth Davidtz as such an excellent and lonely and completely subtext-less/literal Rebecca? Give her an umbrella and call her Mary Poppins. She hates advertising but is an empty shell with a brand name of "propriety" on it. A brilliant performance.

"Are you alone?" The point here isn't whether Don will cheat again but that he is always alone anyway. Aren't we all? The whole point of this artful series is Alienation. They're all going to end this thing ridiculously rich and successful . . . yet still alone. Just another "broken hallelujah," I suppose.
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on June 13, 2012
"It's what you would do." Peggy to Don. Best line of the show. Perhaps of the entire series. That relationship, Don and Peggy, I submit, is what this show is about. It is the central relationship of the entire series. They are the two characters who thoroughly, wholly get one another. They see themselves in one another. They are scarily alike, but just enough different to make it drama. Don is the past, Peggy the future. They created themselves, just as the firm creates a world in each of its ads. Sad? Hardly. Peggy's glee as she steps into the elevator completely changes the tenor of the episode. Fantastic. This is Mad Men at its best: Layered, deceptive drama unfolding, with advertising and all it means the spine on which it all hangs. The prostitution thread was the diversion, a foil to the main story, I think. That line and Peggy's smirk are what really happened here.
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on September 4, 2012
Feelings are like a shadow. We try to hide in front of them. The penalty of modern external life is having your medulla massaged a hundred different ways at the same time, while it sleeps in a primal readiness that lets the flesh wander about in smoke and sugar. Perfection is the head but destruction is the tale.... We forget that we live in an ocean. We remember to panic once a month... paying our debts in the same rhythm of the moon and ovulation cycles. Is our tragedy having children grow up and move away or is it the only thing left that gives us meaning? Is Mad Men's lesson to find the grace in loneliness? May all your elevator shafts be filled with Cool Whip.
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