You may have to wait until 2012 for Season Five of the acclaimed AMC series Mad Men to return, but you can catch up on the Blu-ray edition of Mad Men – Season Four right now!
Mathew Weiner has not just lovingly and meticulously recreated the fall of 1964 and rest of l965 in the Fourth Season of Mad Men. He has created a thirteen hour movie. As it languidly unfolds it provides a window into the past giving us clues regarding the directions that the characters who inhabit this world are going to take. It just takes time, and alot of it. By the time it concludes, everyone and everything in this corner of universe will be accounted for.
Episode 1, “Public Relations”, opens with the question of “Just Who is Don Draper” posed to the man who has created him, Dick Whitman. While stifling to gag his surprise by such a direct question from a newspaper reporter doing a story about the new Advertising firm Draper, Sterling, Cooper…..Don reluctantly gives his response based upon an uncharacteristic display of false modesty. Afraid that he is about to be uncovered for the fraud that he is. He has just finished a Glow Coat floor wax commercial which has the industry buzzing. Things appear to be happening for the new agency, just not fast enough. The partners are ever mindful that almost seventy percent of their business is from one client, Lucky Strikes. The rest of the season really delves into not only how Don manages to maintain the shroud of secrecy about his real identity but also how the agency survives. The opening episode neatly introduces a very appealing mix of the existing characters with some spanking new ones. The most notable is Dr. Fay a very attractive marketing psychologist who is a self-assured single career woman who predicts that Mr. Draper is the type of man who will be married within the year. How, when and with who is this season is really about. The end of this episode provides a stark realization to Mr. Draper that the spotlight is upon him and he needs it to embrace it in order for himself and his agency to survive.
Each episode occurs during a different month, Thanksgiving with Betts and Henry at Henry’s mother’s mansion is a bit awkward. Especially when Sally throws up some of her food during dinner. Henry’s Mom wants to know why he couldn’t just sleep with the ice queen instead of marrying her. Betts through this and every episode this season is perturbed. She’s upset About her daughter, her Ex-Husband, her current husband, the neighbors son, Glen and even her kids nanny/maid Carla. How she reacts sets off a chain reaction that causes her daughter Sally to act out and eventually for the whole extended family to be affected.
Episode 3, “The Good News”, neatly ties up some loose ends from Don’s former life, the one he had before he stole his new one. He visits the original Mrs. Draper, who was married to the original Mr. Draper, before he got blown up in the same foxhole that Dick was in while serving in Korea. She now lives in Long Beach, California. While visiting, before he takes off solo to Acapulco, he finds out from her college aged niece, while he tries to sleep with her, that his fictional ex is dying of cancer. A fact that her sister and the rest of the family don’t feel necessary to share with her. The only person who really knows all about Dick/Don will be gone, and with her all traces of who he really is, and was, will fade away. The Beach Boy enthusiasm of Southern California in the mid-sixties is captured perfectly (along with smoking weed) , as is the Berkeley free speech movement and the freedom of choice during this time that unleashed a sexual and social revolution. The year ends with Don having no one else to be with except Lane. They provide an unlikely duo of two unhappy, unmarried middle aged men trying to take advantage of their new-found freedom from wives, kids and responsibilities.
In Episode 9, “The Beautiful Girls”, Joan, Peggy and Dr. Fay (now Don’s new squeeze) make up a tableau of how fractured a woman’s identity and aspirations were back in the day. The conflicts between family and career were not as finely delineated during this time. Many woman went to work in order to meet a future husband. No Sexual Harassment laws or H.R. regulations regarding appropriate relationships. The aspect of that fact slowly unfolds throughout the season as Megan, the receptionist, is introduced slowly making her way towards her destiny.
Episode 13, “Tomorrowland”, is a finale that features Don taking his kids to Disneyland on a business trip. Things happen, not only to him but to Betts, who finally is moving to a new house and Joan who will definitely be changing in the next season. Her Husband is a surgeon in Vietnam, going before he could get the idea from the movie or even the T.V, Show MASH. Peggy also is maturing both as a woman and copywriter capable of bringing in desperately new business. Poor Doctor Fay learns that independence is not all it’s cracked up to be.
As this season goes on , each of the characters who inhabit this world are not only real, but very much alive and active, not to mention as well as fabulously attired. Each of the Ad guys are in beautiful Botany 500 two button or three button jackets and suits. Their pocket squares are perfect. The woman are all lovely, from the Grace Kelly look of Betty to the Bonwitt Teller red dresses worn by Joan to even the Villager circle collared blouses favored by Peggy. Even the gold jackets and suits favored by Ken Cosgrove go perfectly with is blond hair combed into a pompadour. This season benefits from no commercials or weekly intervals between episodes, You get to appreciate how giving into a main client like Lee Gardner’s Lucky Strikes account, will only eventually lead to financial disaster. How dependence upon a vain petty little dictator like Mr Gardner is never going to work. The petty squabbles, infighting, jealousness and envy are all on display once the shit hits the fan. How these difficulties are dealt with will become quite evident by the end of this season as 1965 bites the dust.
The special features also have some uplifting information about divorce in the 60′s, how to succeed in business (Draper Style) and clips from the 1964 presidential campaign.
·”Divorce: Circa 1960s” – A three-part documentary on the laws and deep emotions surrounding divorce during a time when the traditional family was at the core of American society-
“How to Succeed in Business Draper Style” – CEOs, advertising legends and executive coaches use scenes from MAD MEN to detail Don Draper’s 10-point blueprint for success
·”Marketing the Mustang: An American Icon” – Explore the birth of the Ford Mustang as well as the marketing and advertising campaign that launched an American classic
·”1964 Presidential Campaign” – Archival footage of President Johnson’s and Senator Goldwater’s speeches, campaign commercials and the Presidential Inauguration detail one of the most lopsided elections in American history
·MAD MEN Season Four commentaries – Matthew Weiner and the cast and crew of MAD MEN take viewers behind the scenes in feature-length audio commentaries for all 13 episodes
-5.1 DTS HD Audio
Mad Men Season Four is a beautiful production. Glamour, sophistication, drinking all day at work as a company requirement – why doesn’t everybody miss the sixties? The three disc set includes all thirteen episodes, set-ups, special features and commentaries by Creator/Director Matthew Weiner and the rest of the cast. I’ve seen Jason Hamm in a variety of other television programs and, now, supporting movie roles. I always have the same underwhelmed feeling. As Don Draper, he is the man-behind-the-man, behind the man (and actually even behind that man). He inhabits this role so completely in every scene that it feels uncanny. Even his facial expressions (or lack thereof) when he presents a man so terrified that his whole existence, based upon a intricate web of lies and deception, will finally explode. This season really has everything, including a visit to the New York Playboy club, Harlem, and even Sally’s new Child Psychologist Doctor Edna. You even eventually get to meet Lane’s Father who pops in from across the pond to demonstrate his parenting skills (making the Tiger Mom look like Mary Poppins). So, take your time and enjoy the love and attention lavished on each episode up till the end. It’s going to be awhile before these guys return, so make sure you enjoy these episodes!
ComicsOnline gives Mad Men Season Four on Blu-ray 5 out of 5 1960′s stars!
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