Mad Men: Season Three [Blu-Ray]

Mad Men: Season Three [Blu-Ray]
Back when Mad Men premiered in the summer of 2007, I was certain it would only last a single season and become a mostly unknown cult favourite amongst a small group of dedicated fans. It was just too smart and subtle to appeal to the mainstream, unafraid of lingering silence and non-verbal communication, moving from episode to episode without pat resolutions and messages of the week. But, thankfully, I was wrong. Three seasons and a chest full of Emmys and Golden Globes later, the series about advertising executives in the '60s is still going strong. Admittedly, the first half of the third season is a little rocky, with the first few episodes showing little progression, aside from the many corporate changes that came with the British buyout of Sterling Cooper that Duck (Mark Moses) engineered. Once things pick up — sometime around the office party when Mad TV's Crista Flanagan runs over an executive's foot with a John Deere lawnmower — they quickly move from interesting to compelling and memorable, as Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) persona is slowly deconstructed. On the home front, Don and Betty (January Jones) show more intimacy than in previous seasons, conversing in bed and flirtatiously pretending to be strangers in Rome, despite Betty's inevitable gravitation towards any man that gives her attention. It's understandable, as Don continues to cheat on her whenever he can while faltering at work with an important new client that owns a small chain of Hilton hotels. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) continues to move up the corporate ranks as a feminist pioneer while diddling Duck on the side and Joan (Christina Hendricks) learns the valuable lesson of achieving a dream only to find out that the idea of it is always better than the reality. Still demonstrating a self-aware knowledge of aesthetics, featuring costumes, hairstyles and sets that transport us to another time, these 13 episodes thematically chip away at the surface to reveal the hollowness in life as presentation, even for those that are capable of little more, such as Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). As with previous season box sets, the supplemental material is thoughtful and extensive, featuring a two-part, hour-long documentary on the history of cigarette advertising, along with a tribute to Medgar Evers, a Civil Rights activist that was assassinated in 1963. There are also commentary tracks on every episode with series creator Matthew Weiner, occasionally featuring other members of the cast and crew. In fact, some episodes feature more than one commentary track, revealing hectic production schedules where actors will shoot scenes from six episodes on the same day, along with the fact that Kartheiser likes to fart in the middle of dramatic scenes to throw other actors off their game. A flashback to 1963 featurette is included, as is an interview with the online animator who created all those avatars that popped up on Facebook back in September 2009. (Maple)