Things I Did On My Summer Vacation #4 Mad Men

52 episodes in 39 days, says my Netflix instant watching activity. That includes 8 episodes watched on Labor Day, in a successful attempt to finish before I returned to work.

Mad Men is perhaps the best television drama series I have seen. You’ve probably heard this praise from others. The Television Academy of Arts & Sciences thinks highly of it, having awarded it three four consecutive Emmys for its first three four seasons. Next weekend, we’ll see if Season Four picks up the top prize, too. I had heard Mad Men was good, but I didn’t have any more of a desire to see it than I did The Sopranos. I still haven’t see a single episode of that. And I still haven’t seen an episode of The Wire.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Six Feet Under. My list of great televisions dramas that I’ve seen every episode of stops there. (I’ve seen plenty of pretty good ones…L.A. Law and various similar David E. Kelley shows…if I think about it longer, I can come up with a pretty good list of pretty good television dramas.) I may have seen every episode of Dallas, but many of its 357 episodes weren’t very good, and I was too young to get a lot of what I was watching. Speaking of Dallas, I have a few more thoughts on that iconic show. Later. Back to Mad Men…

I’m not adept at writing full-scale reviews. So I’ll just be succinct. Mad Men puts me in a different time and place in a more authentic way than anything else I can recall other than maybe a Saving Private Ryan. It may even be a stylized version of a narrow subset of early 60’s America, but it’s endlessly fascinating. There was not a single episode where I felt it was okay to leave the room, leave the show running, and return a couple of minutes later. All 47 or 48 minutes need to be watched. Those opening credits…I loved seeing and hearing the opening 52 times, setting the tone for the show. And then the closing credits were always an integral part of the episode. Whether there was a period song or the haunting score of David Carbonara.

The stories…the advertising campaigns…how the characters can fleshed out over four seasons….how humor gets inserted

Acting…Jon Hamm…you hear a lot about him…because he’s that good. And he hasn’t won an Emmy yet. The show has won every year, but no won has won for acting yet. I love, love, love Elisabeth Moss. I mean, I shouldn’t love actresses I know nothing about, other than that she was terrific as Zoe Bartlett on The West Wing (and she was briefly married to SNL’s Fred Armisen?) Her character Peggy Olson experiences the most growth through the four seasons. From the naive newbie secretary to Don to the confident indepensible contributor who has won Don’s respect and friendship. Give Elisabeth Moss an Emmy.

The showrunner Matthew Weiner seems intent on making every single scene a work of art in itself, and I rarely get that sense from a television program and only occasionally in film.

And time is up on this blog entry. I’ve just started on Breaking Bad, and I can tell that Bryan Cranston is certainly deserving of his Emmys.



I’m a little late to the party with Louis the purportedly awesome F/X show starring Louis C.K. I’m just watching the pilot via Netflix. I’m going to enjoy this show.

It’s not fun to be single at 41. I was married for 10 years, I’m divorced, I have two children. It’s hard to start again after a marriage. It’s hard to really look at someone and go ‘Maybe something nice will happen’. I know too much about life to have any optimism. I know even if it’s nice, it’s going to lead to shit. I know if you smile at somebody and they smile back, you’ve just decided something shitty is going to happen. You might have a nice couple of dates but then she’ll stop calling you back and that’ll feel shitty. Or you’ll date for a long time and then she’ll have sex with one of your friends or you will with one of hers and that will be shitty. Or you’ll get married and it won’t work out and you’ll get divorced and split your friends and money and that’s horrible. Or you’ll meet the perfect person who you love infinitely and you even argue well and you grow together and you have children and then you get old together and then SHE’S GONNA DIE

(Well, the guy is more likely to die first, but that’s beside the point.)

In other Netflix viewing news, I’ve made my decision about Netflix new pricing structure (which begins September 1, if you haven’t figured out what you’re doing yet). I don’t watch many movies. I do have an interest in watching TV shows that I’ve missed, which Netflix streaming is great for. So I’m dropping the one-DVD-at-a-time. Just $7.99/month, which I think is how much Hulu Plus is. I briefly used Hulu Plus. It’s advantage over Netflix is that it will bring you up to the current season of a network show…but I don’t watch many network shows, and Hulu’s selection of shows isn’t as extensive as Netflix’s. Netflix’s? That doesn’t sound right…

In other Netflix viewing news, I’m one-third of the way through Season 3 of Mad Men, having started about six weeks ago. I highly recommend it.