Created by Matthew Weiner, Mad Men is a term coined in the late 1950s to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue. In the glamorous and ego-driven world of advertising, everyone is selling something and nothing is ever what it seems. Set in 1960 New York City, Mad Men reveals the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue's "Golden Age," when key players make an art of the sell while their private world gets sold. And no one plays the game better than Don Draper (Hamm), the biggest ad man''and ladies' man''in the business. All 13 episodes of the series are presented on three discs: 1. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (48:39), 2. Ladies' Room (47:02), 3. Marriage Of Figaro (44:14), 4. New Amsterdam (45:11), 5. 5G (48:03), 6. Babylon (46:57), 7. Red In The Face (47:04), 8. The Hobo Code (48:03), 9. Shoot (47:35) 10. The Long Weekend (47:57) 11. Indian Summer (47:58), 12. Nixon Vs. Kennedy (47:50), and 13. The Wheel (51:41). (Gary Reber)
Special features include audio commentary with the filmmakers and actors in all 13 episodes; the featurette Establishing Mad Men (HD 61:26); an Advertising The American Dream (HD 19:51) featurette on the 1960's creative revolution in American media; Scoring Mad Men ((HD 07:38); Mad Men Music Sampler tracks from the soundtrack; the Pictures Of Elegance photo gallery with commentary from the costume, hair, and production designers; and the Mad Men Season 2 preview.
The 1.78:1 1080p AVC picture quality is excellent. Unlike so many TV series, this was shot in 35 mm Academy Standard Flat, as though shooting a movie. Phil Abraham earned an Emmy Award for cinematography. (See Bob Fisher's article "Why Mad Men Resonates On Home Theatre Screens" in Issue 139, March/April 2009.) Color fidelity is outstanding, exhibiting an extremely natural characteristic with accurate fleshtones and vivid, rich hues. Blacks are solid and deep, and shadow delineation is superb, revealing excellent depth of field and dimension. Resolution reveals fine facial features, including wrinkles on faces of older people. Textures also are finely resolved with threads even revealed in clothing and ashes in ashtrays. The picture is pristine, with no noticeable artifacts. Perfectly contrasted throughout, this is a wonderful visual rendering that makes one feel like you are on the scene in the period where the story is happening. (Gary Reber)
The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is conventionally produced, with forward-sounding dialogue that, at times, overpowers the scene. Sound effects and Foley effects are nicely produced and localized, to create depth in the soundfield and enhance the realism. However, surround envelopment is wanting, because surround levels are too low to be fully appreciated and often result in a monaural collapsed soundfield. The music score is nicely recorded but not prominent. At times, the music sounds a bit constricted in the soundstage, with ineffective low-level surround support. Deep bass is lacking throughout. Overall, this is a marginally mediocre soundtrack that is serviceable but misses the mark for excellence. (Gary Reber)