Mad Men - A Citizen Geek Review

Mad MenI know I am late to the cocktail party on this one, but I have just finished the fourth season of the AMC show “Mad Men" and wanted to give my two cents about it over an Old Fashioned and a pack of Lucky Strike.

Short Review:  If you like a lot of drinking, smoking and well..uh screwing set in 1960’s Madison Avenue you’ll love it.  Me, well…read the long review.

Long Review:  First of all I want to make perfectly clear that I’m in no way bashing the AMC Juggernaut that is Mad Men, but it didn’t really sit perfectly with me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the style, the characters, the setting and the majority of the story, but there are some parts of it that I just can’t place my finger on it other than: the story is a bit too slow.

I enjoy a good over-arcing story that spans a season or a few seasons and keeps fans of the show hooked, but it took me a long while to really enjoy the story.  No lie it took me almost the entire first season to get invested, 10 episodes in fact.  I know that a lot of it is setting up the world, but if shows like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones can get people hooked in less than half of a season of Mad Men then it may not be great for TV viewers who enjoy a faster paced show.  That’s my only real gripe with it.  I didn’t really care for the story until the latter half of a season when it starts to pick up for either a cliffhanger season finale or just wrapping up the story line for the season.  

My favourite season of the show was definitely the fourth.  Why?  Because it’s new territory and we kind of start off on a fresh start with the characters than we did before.  When you start the series you are put into the middle of things, whereas the fourth season we see something new.  It seems the stories were more compact and picked up a lot of pace as the season continued.  If Mad Men gets a fifth season (it’s future unknown because of behind the scenes stuff, but it might get sorted out because as of this writing it is up for 19 Emmy nominations for 2011), I’d love to see more of the same writing style as it’s previous season.

Geek Factor:  With these reviews I want to go over the potential geek grok factor of the show and the two bits of geek in the show you may enjoy are the two actors Christina Hendricks (who fans may love as Saffron from Joss Whedon’s Firefly), and Vincent Kartheiser (who played Connor in another Whedon series Angel).  Also if you are a geek for history and love the 1960’s then you can definitely grok this show.  I will say the attention to detail in the show is fantastic!  Everything from the costumes, the sets, props, even situations look as if you are looking back in time to the 60’s.  They even go out of their way to show the social commentary of the 1960’s that has changed in the last 50 years.  Commentaries such as just leaving a pile of garbage in the middle of the park after a family picnic, the fact that everyone smokes EVERYWHERE, and even seeing kids climbing around in a car and not wearing seat belts while driving.  Wow times have changed.

Conclusion:  All in all, I enjoy the show, but you won’t see me doing the snoopy dance when new episodes comes out as I do whenever I watch a new Doctor Who episode.  Now that’d be something to see, the Doctor on Madison Avenue! Ha!  I would recommend this show if you a drama junkie and are into the glamour and underbelly of 1960’s Businessmen and women.  However, if you need a faster paced story, then I’d suggest you take your ad pitch elsewhere as Donald Draper may not have time for you.

My grade: A-