Monday, March 24, 2014

Binge Watch: Mad Men (Season Six) Edition

Trying to catch up on Mad Men before the season seven premiere on April 13th has not been easy given AMC’s scheduling of season six episodes in advance of that premiere. So far I’ve made it as far as episode six watching DVR recordings of early Sunday morning rebroadcasts. Don Draper and his cohort of Madison Avenue ad men (and women) enter season six a little worn out by the events of 1960s, and the series has yet to recover from the failures of season five or recapture the greatness of earlier episodes.

We start season six in Hawaii, paradise as seen through the cynical and calculated eyes of Don Draper (John Hamm). Wife Megan (Jessica Paré), having gained fame as a soap opera star, enjoys Hawaii more than Don, who is really there on business. Roger’s (John Slattery) mother dies. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) has problems adjusting to her position of power at rival firm Cutler, Gleason and Chaough. Don and Megan arrive back in New York and Don, finding his crutch alcohol more of a stumbling block than an aid, makes a fool of himself at Roger’s mother's funeral. He is also having an affair with neighbor Silvia (Linda Cardellini). That’s just the first episode of the season.

Mad Men is a show about a narcissistic asshole, and as such wears a little thin after a while. Don’s and Pete’s affairs with other women might have been interesting three or four season ago, but now it’s just more of the same, and hardly revealing or compelling. Cardellini is a fine actress, and she may do something interesting with the role by the end of the season, but so far I’m not that interested. We also get more flashbacks to Don’s crappy childhood, but again nothing really revealing or compelling. Same old same old. The show is at its best when dealing with the creative side of the ad business or the historic events of the 1960s. The Tet Offensive. The MLK and RFK assassinations. Of course season six of Mad Men is still better than most other programs on television, it’s just not as good as it was in earlier seasons.

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