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'Mad Men' well crafted TV drama

By Alex Sferrazza
On February 17, 2013


One of the most popular television shows around these days, especially among college aged viewers, is undoubtably "The Walking Dead" on AMC, it's undeniably a well crafted program, it is a shame that another program on AMC, arguably one of the best television dramas in history, is comparatively ignored.  

I am, of course, speaking of "Mad Men," which is a four time winner of the "Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series."

The show won the award in the first four of its five seasons, a record total which is shared by only a select few programs including "The West Wing" and "L.A. Law."  Despite such rabid acclaim, and while the premiere of the most recent season of "The Walking Dead" garnered an audience of over 10 million viewers, last years season premiere of "Mad Men" barely garnered more than 3.5 million viewers.

For those who have not yet taken the plunge, "Mad Men" is the brainchild of television writer Matthew Wiener, who has served as a writer and producer on the later seasons of a little HBO show called "The Sopranos."

Set in 1960's New York City in an advertising agency on Madison Avenue, "Mad Men" follows the professional and personal lives of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), creative director of the agency, as well as those of his co-workers.  The program features a large ensemble cast with nearly every role played masterfully from Don's alcoholic boss Roger Sterling (John Slattery), to Don's creative protege' Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) with seldom a weak link to be found among them.

One of the program's hallmarks is its intense authenticity of the 1960's.  Costumes and sets are authentic to the time period. Nearly every character can be seen smoking indoors, and most interestingly, as episodes pass by, actual historical events are interwoven into the plot line. Among these are the 1960, Presidential election and the assassination of President Kennedy among others.

While subsequent shows have attempted to re create a 60's setting in the wake of "Mad Men's" success ("Pan Am," "The Playboy Club"), most have been dismal failures.

Despite a comparatively small audience, those wise enough to watch the program are in for a real treat. The program has many fans, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who sent a letter to creator and show runner Matthew Weiner praising the show after its 3rd season.  

On the recent series finale of the NBC comedy program "30 Rock," Tina Fey's character attempts to persuade a co-worker from committing suicide by asking, "Don't you wanna know how Mad Men ends?"  She makes a good point.

AMC has announced that "Mad Men's" penultimate 6th season will premiere on April 7th, on AMC. For those wishing to catch up on the fantastic program, the first four seasons are available for instant streaming on Netflix, while season five is available for purchase on DVD, and digitally on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

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