Mad Men – Season 5
Things are going great for Don Draper and for once he’s a happy man, ready to settle with what he’s achieved. He’s happily married with Megan and he’s happy controlling her whether he realises it or not. As a result, however, he’s no longer as driven by his work as he used to be and leaves most of the really creative work to Peggy and the rest of the copywriters. Due to this, the man who’s actually been getting Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce forward is Pete Campbell who’s ambition and work has been bringing in new business, leaving Roger Sterling with little more to do than spy on Pete’s agenda and giving people ridiculous amounts of money to getting things done. However, as Lane Pryce keeps repeating throughout the season, the company has finally gotten success, but hasn’t managed to reap the money that should come with it.
This fifth season of Mad Men is again a smash hit. As always, looking at a single episode will make you wonder why you kept watching as there seems to be little going on, but after seeing the entire season, the subtleties that move the show forward give quite the changed picture. At the start, everyone seems to be doing great but it quickly becomes clear “doing great” isn’t actually so fantastic. Pete has everything he’s ever wanted, but feels trapped in his countryside house and even gets into something of a relationship with the wife of a fellow commuter. Megan is great at her job at SCDP but when her father reminds her of her dream of becoming an actress, she rejects Don’s profession and by extension Don as well, something that triggers the “old” Don to come forward again. Finally, Pryce, the man handling the money, finds himself in a rather difficult place with financial problems leading him to take an action that ultimately results in a dramatic move unlike anything we’ve seen in Mad Men yet.
Mad Men is slow and subtle, but in the end hits like a hammer. The perfect portrayal of New York in the late 60s, the excellent casting and acting work, and the ever-interesting storylines of the various characters keep you clustered to your screen. Definitely one of the best TV shows ever.
On the technical side, we’re left a bit disappointed. Season 4 on Blu-ray came with excellent image quality, but season 5 doesn’t manage to keep up to that standard. While heavily-lit scenes look amazing as always, dark scenes often look a bit soft and unstable up to the point it becomes a bit annoying even. Luckily the sound has been upped compared to last season, giving more attention to left and right front speakers, as well as the surrounds. Music is more prominently present and increases the dramatic nature of the series while never getting in the way of dialogue.
In the extras department we’re getting quite the treats. “Mad Men say the darndest things” has anecdotes from producers and writers on the show, “What is there to love if not the enigma” is about painter Giorgio de Chirico and how the series mimics much of the artist’s themes, “Party of the Century” is an in-depth look at Truman Capote’s Black & White Masquerade Ball, held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1966, there’s a few extras on the music of the series and a feature on the implementation of Daylight Savings Time, and of course a number of commentary tracks. Great stuff!