Saturday, October 13, 2007

Television As Pure Art Direction

Well, it took most of the 13-week season, but in the end we finally got a little bit of character development to go with the art direction that has so far been the only apparent reason for the existence of Mad Men.

At times the show seemed almost to be a form of experimental television -- the TV show as pure look with almost no real story or character development. Now for me it actually worked on that level. The attention to detail in the sets and costumes is really nothing short of remarkable. It's like a full-scale version of an old home movie that rather shockingly brings to colorful life a previously black-and-white world.

By the end of the run we discovered chunks of Don Draper's misty past, Betty Draper discovered a bit of his smoky present, and Peggy discovered the mysterious reason for her ever-enlargening ass. For a while it seemed as though the show would never outlive its initial run, if only because it didn't seem to be heading anywhere in particular, but the final few episodes -- and in particular the wonderful season-ender -- leave open all kinds of possibilities for the folks at Sterling Cooper (Draper, Sterling & Cooper?) head into 1961 and the birth of Camelot.


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