Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mad Men - Season 2

Mad Men's second season is a lot like the first. From a quality and style perspective, not plot. They do a lot of things that they didn't do before. I still don't think the show is outstanding, but it's certainly of a consistently high production quality. The period feel still seems authentic, the characters are still interesting if rarely good people, and things are rarely stagnant. There are some new elements that fill a lot of the story this time, like a new minister played by Colin Hanks who tries to reach out to Peggy and the culmination of Don's transgressions as they cause a big problem in his home life. The Two Towers is on in the background on TV right now and man, those movies have some long stretches without dialogue.

The dialogue in Mad Men is serviceable to the story more than it is entertaining. There's nothing wrong with writing everything to drive the narrative, but part of what's holding me back on really digging it is the lack of just enjoying listening to the actors talk. It's not bad, just not the greatest. I did feel like I liked the show more than I did it first, although I'm not really seeing a noticeable change in anything about it. I'm just more attached to the people in it the more I see. I kind of like how they portray that time as just as filled with imperfect people and moments as ours. Everything from the past is always idealized and the current generation is always seen as the worst yet, but in the end we're all just humans. With all of the typical story devices and character archetypes, the setting is probably Mad Men's greatest asset. It really ties you into it when things happen like the season's climax coinciding with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I don't watch many serialized dramas that don't have an element of violence, so it's interesting to see how they can keep things compelling with more subtle means of conflict.

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