Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mad Men Returns for Season 3

The end of summer is approaching. There is a bit of a chill in the air at night, back to school sales are everywhere and fall clothes are at the mall. While many would look at this as a bad thing, I try to see the positive in the onset of Fall. Because Autumn means the return of old friends and the possibility of making a few new ones.

Yes I am talking about Fall premiere's and series returns on my beloved television. While the majority of shows wait until after the Labour Day Weekend to air new episodes, the good folks at AMC will Premiere the third Season of Mad Men this Sunday. If you were not aware, Mad Men is an award winning, critically acclaimed glimpse into the world of Advertising in 1960's Manhattan. The two leads of the show - Jon Hamm and January Jones are featured in the current issue of Vanity Fair and the accompanying article provides us a glimpse into the mind of show creator Matthew Weiner. I will not harp on the total fabulosity of these photos, taken by the incredible Annie Leibovitz. Jones and Hamm are two of the most beautiful people ever. Sigh.

Matthew Weiner cut his teeth on good TV by working on The Soprano's during it's last 3 seasons. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that his script for the pilot of Mad Men is what got him his job on the HBO series, the powers that be never picked up the series. Imagine the possibilities of no commericals and nekkid people? Oh well. That must stay in the "what could have been" pile. I actually like it the way it is (I could do without the commericals, but that is why God invented PVR's). All simmering and smoldering under the surface. Kind of how I imagine the 60's were. Everyone did it, but you just didn't talk about it, ya know?

From the article in VF, it is clear that Weiner is a perfectionist, going so far as to finding smaller apples for a scene because fruit in the 60's wasn't pumped full of hormones, and knowing actual weather conditions of the time period that a particular episode is set in. The writers, led by Weiner, are also knowledgeable about the highways that protagonist Don Draper (Jon Hamm) would take on his drive home from Manhattan, and details of Ossining the suburb where Don and Betty (January Jones) live.

I found the discussion of the casting of Jon Hamm rather interesting. Although he had read well in early auditions, in an unusual twist by Hollyweird standards, it was his astounding good looks that initially made Weiner and Alan Taylor (who directed the pilot) hesitant. However, Taylor explained, once they "put him through the process of hair and makeup, and the first time we saw him with his haircut and his suit, all the women in the office kind of wilted and fainted when he walked by." Tell me about it. Hamm is perfectly cast in my opinion. He exudes the very essence of the perfect man - an amazingly successful, incredibly handsome professional who seems to have it all. But if you look into his eyes, there is something that is a little off - be it a hint of sadness or the fact that he is hiding something. F*ck me, he is amazing in this role. And so f*cking hawt.

The stunning January Jones is also perfectly cast as the quintessential 60's housewife - blond, blue eyed, perfectly coiffed. But hidden beneath this perfect exterior is something much deeper and Jones' nuanced performance as the tragic Betty Draper blows me away every week. As Weiner explains - "she completely embodies" the role, going on to say "she was restrained. She was a bit child-like—the childishness of Betty Draper, that’s from her. I didn’t write that. She was judgmental. She was catty. She was kind of full of herself, stuck in high school. At the same time she had this passion. She’s not a cliché—the frigid wife. She married that man for a reason, because he’s f*cking handsome. She signed on with a guy she doesn’t know at all because it’s amazing to f*ck him. And then she’s ashamed about it, because she knew the sex was what it was all about, you know?" She is amazing in this role. Srsly. The scenes early on where she takes the BB gun and fires it at the neighbour's doves, or when she cuts off a lock of her hair and gives it to Glenn, a neighbourhood boy who has a crush on her. Please. There are no words.

I am incredibly curious as to what will happen this season. There were just a few cliff-hangers in the season finale....A pregnant Betty reconciled with her husband but has yet to tell him about the revenge f*ck she had with some random guy in a bar, hotshot young ad executive Pete (Vincent Karthesier) finally learnt that a child resulted from his one night stand with Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), Office Manager Joan (Christina Hendricks) is planning on marrying the guy who raped her on the floor of Don's office, the agency has merged with a British company, and Roger Sterling (John Slattery) is in the middle of his midlife crisis by being engaged to a 20 year old secretary from the office. Can't wait to see how it all plays out!

Sunday Night. AMC. Limited Commerical Breaks. Tell your friends.

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