on 1 January 2014
Mad Men remains top end drama but there is a very different vibe going on in Series 6. It took several episodes for me to really get into this series but, on reflection, this had much to do with the social/political changes going on in the late 60's and how these are captured. In particular Don and Roger appear increasingly old-fashioned in a world that is changing so quickly.
This isn't the best series but Mad Men remains one of the best programmes. I am looking forward to Series 7 and although disappointed it will be the last, I don't see how it could continue for much longer without losing the edge it has had since it started.
When things get bad, we tend to look to the past. And the bleaker the future looks, the further back we search for comfort. As the new millennium keeps disappointing us, TV shows set on the 50's and the 60's (once a rarity) keep growing in numbers. Many have tried and failed. MAD MEN tried and closed the deal. And have been doing so for 6 seasons now.
Meet Don Draper (Jon Ham), a Madison Avenue water-walker (and based on real life ad-man, George Lois). He is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. He is brilliant and secretive. He wants to keep walking the tight rope with no safety net. And definitely no contract. He is a chain-smoking, hard liqueur guzzling, womanizing alpha male. He is a loving father of three, married to a picture-perfect ex model. He has it all. And yet he cannot find peace. Because he learned early on that the world is always yawning at your heels, eager to yank everything you love away.
From bursting with joie-de-vivre Roger Sterling (hilarious John Slattery) and ever scheming Pete Cambell (baby-faced Vincent Kartheiser) to the gorgeous women (such as barbie January Jones and refined Jessica Paré as his first and second wife, respectively), the cast is one perfect pick after another. And the writing is brilliant, reproducing the tastes and smells and nuisances of the era around Camelot, while drawing you in to the personal stories of characters polished yet inevitably flawed.
The 50's and the 60's were before my time so it is not nostalgia that makes me love the show. Yes, I find the era mesmerizing and (probably undeservingly) less complicated. If nothing else, though, back then they knew how to dress. Women looked feminine and men looked manly. You see January Jones on the red carpet, for example, all dressed up and groomed for a Hollywood function - and that modern image cannot hold a candle to herself dressed for everyday(!) life in the early 60's. When did we loose it? When did we decide men should stop wearing suits and hats and women should start wearing sweat-suits outside the house? I, for one, blame the hippies!
This is one of the best TV shows ever and this box-set includes the ongoing season 6. Season 7 has been green-lighted whereas we can only hope that the show will not stop there. As I have said again before, good TV is best watched on DVD. Make weekends out of it. It is much more enjoyable to watch an entire season in a couple of days than having to wait week(s) between episodes. And (quite ironically, in this case), you will not have to suffer the...commercials.
on 30 August 2015
I have become addicted to this show. Thanks to Prime Instant Video, I have been able to watch it from the beginning, season by season, at a rate of one or two episodes a day. (I am retired). It has got better and better.
Season 6 is complex and gripping, in terms of plot, character development, and startling incident. It is superbly acted, and the director keeps a firm grip to hold together the many changes of scene, and maintain coherence at an unflagging pace.
I urge prospective viewers to do as I have, and start at the beginning. You will not be disappointed.
on 22 June 2013
When I watched the first episode of the sixth season of Mad Men I expected it to feel like putting on a comfortable, well-worn, pair of slippers. For years we have gotten to know Don, Pete, Peggy, Betty and numerous other characters as their fortunes, and those of the agency, have ebbed and flowed. But disconcertingly the start of the season time travels forward a couple of years from the end of season 5. As a result everything familiar felt different, and it took several episodes to feel reoriented in the lives of the characters. That was a stroke of genius. Mad Men has always made us work hard for the rewards of feeling immersed in its world.
Once the reorientation process was complete, the series continued with the same sharp writing and flawless acting which have made the previous series such compelling viewing. The introduction of several new characters,the toxic fallout from Don's relationships, and the overhaul of the agency all help to keep the stories fresh and open new windows to the souls of the major protagonists. That said, Don's soul remains a dark and mysterious place. That is why we love him, and this show, so much.
on 24 August 2013
While nothing will ever replace the glee I felt upon discovering this programme and then binge-watching the first 4 seasons in their entirety, I have to say I was so pleased that Series 6 resumed much of what I liked about the first 4, but that had been lacking in S5.
By now, we know the characters and their foibles inside and out, so we're not surprised by Don's continued drunken-ness, Peggy's desire to be heard and seen as in control, and Roger's inner angst behind his cocksure exterior. Yet we learn more about Don's childhood *Spoiler* being raised in a whore-house and thus his oversexualised childhood - we see him molested by a resident, and this gives us a clue as to why he is as oversexualised as an adult, and why he constantly feels the need to numb himself with booze, cigarettes, extra-marital affairs, and power-playing with his peers. Whereas Roger takes the healthy route of lying on his shrink's sofa and talking through his issues, Don remains the strong silent type, afraid or unable to articulate his emotions, or even to confide in his wife. He doesn't even utter a word for the first 20 minutes of the first episode, leaving us to wonder whether he'll bother to talk at all... In fact, he does, but only when approached at a Honolulu bar by a drunken soldier who he immediately feels a connection to. it's like he's worked so hard to build this life for himself, he has all the trappings of what one would believe would make one happy - powerful job where he actually gets to be creative, beautiful wife, money and children, yet this isn't enough for him to be happy. His childhood deamons are still gnawing at him and continue to do so throughout the series. It's no coincince that *spoiler* he embarks on an affair with an unattainable neighbor, who looks very similar to the whore he lost his virginity to. Yet the deamons wreak even more havoc as he drinks himself to the point of collapse, embarrasses himself and his colleagues in front of a major new prospect, and finds his own daughter walking in on him doing the deed with his neighbor. He cares less about losing Megan, the ever suffering and dutiful wife, and more about his daughter having a bad opinion of him. You can tell he knows he's messed up, but he's scratching his head not knowing how to fix it, and isn't used to his daughter so openly telling him exactly what she thinks of him.
The final scene shows him with his children revisiting the now derilict whorehouse where he spent his formative years. Sally wonders why he's taken her there, and he simply says 'this is where i grew up'. Sally then looks at him as if to say 'ahhhh ok, well that explains a lot then'. They both realise he is flawed, his childhood was certainly flawed, but yet by facing his deamons head on - and by letting his young children see his vulnerabilities - we get the sense he has finally turned a corner and may even be a changed man in the next series... I can't wait to find out.
Season 6 of Mad Men opens circa Xmas 1967. It is as addictive a series as ever. This season is composed of 13 episodes.
Things take a little time to warm up. Are the first few episodes slightly frayed at the edges? It's not quite as sharp early on but still as interesting as ever. The Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assasinations appear on the tv screens in these episodes which fix the time period.
And so we move through the swinging sixties. Just look at some of those outfits! And now finally the tempo really starts to pick up and matters become engrossing.
This end of the season features a shocker with Don and his ad agency. He confronts his own inner demons with his Dick Whitman persona - or should that be the other way around? Is he really on a downward spiral (again!)? Perhaps this is all a part of his growth process?
Will his past finally catch up with him? Will he fall apart? In general, though Don has certainly got himself into awkward situations over the years, he has proven to be quite resourceful in dealing and coping with them.
Matt Weiner has said that the next Series 7 is to be the last. It is set to air in April 2014. This Season 6 certainly ends with a great setup for the grand finale of Season 7.
Can Don turn things around in the situation he now finds himself in?
on 11 January 2016
Have had a break from first few series - but my goodness am I back with it! It is as if I saw it all yesterday, not a few months ago.
Love this, it is so so 60's - even the attitude of men to women has been captured 'almost' perfectly (I was a young PA then in the film business - so similar types in the back offices) Cutthroat or what? Great portrayal and can't wait to buy series 7.
on 1 July 2015
Why is this and Season 7x not included in Prime Instant video, having invested in watching the first 5 seasons and getting hooked it seems a bit unfair to not include them too?
on 8 July 2015
I personally love to hate Mr Draper whilst at the same time battle pangs of feeling sorry for him - and Season Six has these feelings in bundles!
The makers of Mad Men co continue to keep you make a successful series that maintains audience engagement. Which when a series spans a right time frame such as this one, is no mean feat!
on 26 August 2014
I have often found that season 5 is the peak of a TV show; the writers and actors know the characters inside out, but things have yet to go stale. With this in mind I was well prepared for season 6 of ‘Mad Men’ to be staler than the last, but this is not the case. In fact, there is a marked improvement here that brings the show back to the glory days of seasons 3 and 4. The laidback storytelling of ‘Mad Men’ show runner Matthew Weiner is what makes the show, but it is also its major hindrance. Season 5 was almost too static. This is not to say that a load happens in Season 6, but the merging of two separate companies allows for new blood to enter the show and create new dynamics.
At the centre is still the exceptional performance of John Hamm as Don Draper. He is both repulsive and likable, but some of the antics in season 6 make him even harder to love. Although Don is the show centre, this is an excellent ensemble cast. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and Roger (John Slattery) are given great storylines, with only Joan (Christina Hendricks) falling a little short this year. Hopefully this will be remedied in the final season as Hendricks has always been one of the best things on the show.
With pitch perfect acting and magnificent writing season 6 of ‘Mad Men’ is still television at its very best. This is not a show about action, but character. In real life people live for many years and not every day is exceptional, the show has allowed us to follow a group of people through a realistic portrayal of ten plus years. It will be a shame to see it finish.
Although a show about an office, it is shot wonderfully and should be seen on BluRay. The extras on the disc are a little flimsy with a look at what happened in during the period the show was set. OK as a set of mood pieces, but does not really add much to the show itself.