DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Mad Men – Season Six, Blu-ray (2013)

Flawed protagonist Don Draper loses himself…again!

Published on December 14, 2013

Mad Men – Season Six, Blu-ray (2013)

Mad Men – Season Six, Blu-ray (2013)

Cast: Jon Hamm, Elizabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks; John Slattery; Robert Morse; Jessica Pare
Studio: Lions Gate Entertainment – 4 discs [11/5/2013] 
Directors: Scott Hornbacher; Jon Hamm; Michael Uppendahl; Jennifer Getzinger; John Slattery; Phil Abraham; Matthew Weiner
Video: 1.78 for 16×9 1080p HD Color
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital TrueHD
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Recreating An Era; Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out; Summer Of Love (Interactive Gallery)
Length: TT: 618 minutes
Rating: ****

Each time Mad Men lead character Don Draper (a.k.a Dick Whitman) attempts to emerge from his tortured psyche, he succumbs to his unrelenting demons. Not unlike Tony Soprano, he makes half-hearted attempts to be a good guy, but no one believes it for a second. Season 6 finds our “hero” once again flirting with disaster. He is embroiled in an affair (with nasty sexual overtones) with a neighbor friend’s wife (a brilliant Linda Cardellini). Peggy (the reluctant protégé) is continuing her ascension to corporate stardom, but is in love with one of the partners (Ted).  Joan (Christina Hendricks) is trying to be a player at the ad agency and the irritating Peter Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) copes with the disintegration of his marriage. The supporting cast is top-notch. However the emotional impact abates when the focus shifts away from Don. Surprisingly, his daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) and her bizarre coming- of-age angst has become a compelling storyline.

Jon Hamm’s morose performance is dazzling. It is among the best in the annals of television. Matt Weiner is not afraid to challenge the behavior of the characters. Don is no longer the James Bond of Madison Avenue. He is troubled and depressed. Hipster accomplice Roger (John Slattery) is a grandfather coping with the mundane world of family relations. The story lines integrate contemporary social issues (civil rights, women’s liberation and of course sexual liberation). Direction (even with eight directors) is consistent. Scenes are filmed without gimmickry and allow the actors to deliver their well-scripted lines. And just when you think Mad Men’s emotional punch is gone, a terrific scene reminds everyone why this series is unique. In Season Six, it is the final scene as Don shows his children the brothel that served as his boyhood home. It should be noted that Mad Men airs on basic cable and does not have the same artistic license as premium cable series.

Art direction, set design and wardrobe remain a vital cog for this iconic project. The rich, colorful textures and attention to 1960’s cultural details are superb. On Blu-ray, the 5.1 sound is dynamic, capturing the quietest dialogue. Hi-definition is lush and counters the conversation-driven austerity. The instant the show comes on, the viewer is transported back to this era.

It appears that Season Six was a set up for the series finale. Bring it on!

–Robbie Gerson

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