Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Paddle game as metaphor

If you guys haven't been watching Mad Men on AMC, then I can only conclude that you a) don't have a TV, b) have a TV but don't know how to use it, c) are one of the slobbering idiots responsible for convincing the TV networks that America needs more Deal or No Dancing with America's Top Survivor Idol shows.


I caught a three or four episodes of the first season when they aired, but could never figure out the schedule enough to make it "appointment" TV. Luckily, during a recent staycation, my Supermodel Wife and I discovered the entire first season on Time Warner Cable's ON Demand service.

Season one was fantastic. We watched all of the episodes before jumping in to season two.

Because the first season was so good, I half expected a drop-off for the second season. Let me just say that I continue to be surprised and impressed. I appreciate how producer and writer Matthew Weiner takes risks with all of the characters. In one episode, the audience is led to feel sympathy for a one character and revile another. Then, later, the roles become reversed.

And there are so many subtle jokes woven into the production -- jokes that the characters themselves aren't aware of but that are more of a wink or a nudge from the directors to the audience.

One example from this week's episode is when one Pete Campbell, a junior account exec at the ad firm, is giving a semen sample at the fertility clinic. He enters the private room with a sample cup, reviews some of the "literature" available to help get him in the mood, then...

The scene cuts to one of the firm's partners hitting a paddle game ball in his office. An obvious metaphor for what the junior exec is doing at the moment. Priceless.

This attention to subtlety and detail (the 1960s universe is meticulously recreated from the characters' wardrobe to the ubiquitous cigarette smoke, chauvinism and minibars) make this series stand apart from 90 percent of the fare currently being broadcast.

This series is a great piece of work, which means that it will probably be canceled after this season. So start watching it while you can. It's just too good to last.

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  1. never heard of it, Ill give it a look see.

  2. MY ABSOLUTELY FAVORITE SHOW!!! I got into it last season and I am now proud to say I'm a dedicated M-ADdict (that's the official term). Best excuse for a martini on a Sunday night I can find. It's gloriously brilliant. I'm glad I'm not the only one in Kansas City who likes this show. "The New Girl" is definitely the best episode this season.

  3. Funny. You and I both blogged about it on the same day. GREAT show.

  4. Moxie and Shane, I always knew you guys had great taste.

    MM- I meant to mention that the season two episodes are available on demand if you have Time Warner Cable in Kansas City. Check out Channel 126.

  5. Don't forget to check out Calfornication, man. It really is fantastic.

    Leo and I plan on checking this one out...


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