Thursday, September 29, 2011

Men and All Things Mad

I'm a huge fan of Mad Men. I love the back in time feeling the show gives me, thanks to the terrific writing and the attention to detail. It's fun to spot all the retro objects - record players, Thermos jugs, nylon stockings, clasp handbags...

Darling, be a pet and hand me my kitten heel slingbacks

Plus I love watching people in suits and tailored dresses drink martinis and smoke pack after pack of cigarettes. It's the kind of thing I like to watch, if not actually participate in myself.

I'm over here in my sweats, but you guys go right ahead!

Riding on the coattails of Mad Men's success, two other shows from the same period have appeared: The Playboy Club and Pan Am. When I saw that those shows were appearing, I immediately programmed my TIVO so I could watch.

Alas, I have to admit I'm a bit disappointed. There are the nylon stockings, the cigarettes, the martinis - but something is missing. Both new series have lovely girls

and handsome actors

Mr. Squinty

but what they don't have is the level of writing that is on Mad Men. For example, the character of Sally, Don Draper's daughter, is so perfectly drawn that she has become a flesh and blood character.

Cute as a button. AND an amazing actress to boot.

The Playboy Club, however, relies on the old standby of Funny Sassy Minority Roommate and Squinty Handsome Enigmatic Guy. (The Carol-Lynne character is interesting; I'm staying with the show to see how she develops.)

One reason why we will keep TIVO'ing The Playboy Club

Oh, and my husband loves to watch the Bunnies of course, so - yeah, we'll stick with it.

 Like a jet that has had to be rerouted with no travel plan, Pan Am, unfortunately, seemed to be all over the place. Yes, there is the girl who's an artist at heart working as a glamorous Pan Am stewardess, and yes - Christina Ricci's figure is to die for. DIE for!

Hasn't Wednesday Addams matured well?

But I didn't buy in on the other story lines. Honestly, I just didn't care about the affair between the French stewardess and whoever-it-was-she-was-sleeping-with, and I didn't believe the story about the stewardess who is also a spy. 

I just don't believe that adding retro details + period costumes = great show. What's next - the 60's hospital drama? (I thought of it FIRST, NBC.)

I'll give Pan Am time. A pilot (Ha!) is a tough thing to pull off, and those period details are fascinating. Still, the producers of The Playboy Club and Pan Am would be wise to remember the most timeless element of any show: great writers.


Gary Hoover said...

I LOVE Madmen, but I haven't bothered watching the others because I was afraid of the things you're saying.

Whenever something fresh comes along, people seem to copy the superficial elements without capturing the heart.

Jason McIntyre said...

Didn't even know about these other shows, Alison, but your impressions of them leave me wanting as well. Perhaps I will let them run a while and if they survive maybe they will even out.

I only got into Mad Men after the buzz began in Season Two and then went back to the beginning to start there. I did that with another wonderful show called Breaking Bad (much darker than Mad Men but also about the madness of a man trying to do the best he can in a pressure cooker).

j. //

Johanna Garth said...

You said it Allison, the writing of Mad Men is what makes it special. The details in the filming help, but retro details alone can't give something substances.

Connie J Jasperson said...

I haven't seen any of these shows! I suppose we should see madmen. But by the time i get done with work it is too late to see tv *sigh*

karastewart said...

I am ashamed to say I have never head of Mad Men but now I want to watch it! I'm thinking suave James Bond types. Channel?