Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Black Sheep Does TV: MAD MEN Season 5

I am one of those people who only watches certain shows when they are released on Blu-ray or DVD. They air on television all season long and I play a fun little game trying to avoid all spoilers and the like, while they are dissected by the masses on Twitter and message boards. And in the meantime, I wait. I wait for months to go by in between releases and in the case of MAD MEN Season 5, I realized that I had waited a total of a year and a half to feast upon its brilliance once again. Having missed their original production start date for the fifth season of the AMC series, the four time Emmy Award winner for Best Dramatic Series was forced to make fans wait to find out the happenings at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The question is, was it worth the wait?

This year marks the first year since MAD MEN debuted in 2007 that it did not take home the Emmy for Best Dramatic Series. (That honour went to the fledgling season of HOMELAND.) The suggestion of course is that the series, created and still run by Matthew Weiner, is slipping. In the fourth season, we watched what felt like a very slow build that culminated in some very shocking and significant moments for the oh so fashionable cast. This fifth season was as stunning as always, as diligently performed as always and as poetically written as always but somehow, just not as memorable as always. There just weren't as many moments to mark the series this time around. Of course, this might be because a good chunk of the characters are depressed most of the way through the season. Pater Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) can't get comfortable planting roots in the suburbs, while Betty Francis (January Jones) gets too comfortable in the suburbs, putting on a noticeable amount of boredom weight. Meanwhile, the man at the helm, Don Draper (Jon Hamm, who has incidentally and questionably never won an Emmy for this role), doesn't even see that his new marriage to his former secretary, Megan (Jessica Pare), has distracted him from the fiery drive that once drew everyone to him.

MAD MEN Season 5 consists of 13 episodes and, even though I was thrilled to have everyone back in my living room, whether to watch Roger Sterling (John Slattery) go off on an LSD inspired enlightenment journey or just to see what Peggy Olsen (Elizabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) would be wearing each week, it felt as though I had episodes to get through to get to the end rather than my usual desperation to get to as many episodes as possible and inevitable depression when I realized there were none left. I will now have to wait another year or so to see how the series concludes (as the sixth season may be its last) and I'm sure by the time that time rolls around, I will be just as ravenous for more. The great thing about MAD MEN is that even if it falters just a little bit, it is  already so brilliant to begin with that it still remains a cut above everyone else.

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