Mad Men: Season One (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a junior partner at the Sterling Cooper Ad Agency in the 1960s, known as one of the firm’s go to guys in tough sell situations. Draper has proven he can win over even the most stubborn clients and bring in the difficult to land projects, so he is one of the firm’s ace workers. He also has vision like few others, looking to the future for not only himself, but the entire firm and where it will go down the road. His ideas are given much respect, thanks in part to his friend Roger Sterling (John Slattery), who also happens to be a manager at the office. But while Draper seems to have it all under control, he is under constant pressure and tension, both at the office and at home. Can Don and the other workers at Sterling Cooper continue to juggle their professional and private issues and if not, who will crack under the pressure?

I was surprised when I learned that AMC had produced their own drama series, but the premise of Mad Men was interesting, so I tuned in for the first episode. As it turned out, AMC had nabbed one of the best new shows of 2007 and Mad Men’s first season was a pleasure to watch. The show starts off right in the thick of things, so there isn’t a slow introductory run of episodes, so you’re drawn in from second one. I do think the season slows down a little in the middle, but these episodes are still more than solid and the story remains at a good pace. The period production design shines, with realistic atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re there, not to mention some strong, authentic performances. As I said, the season does have some slow moments, but overall, Mad Men is a great show that deserves to be seen. This Blu-ray release looks fantastic and has some worthwhile, insightful supplements, so this is well recommended.

Video: How does it look?

The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This series looked quite bad even in high definition when broadcast, but this Blu-ray release cures all of those ailments. No compression issues, no blocking, no noise, this is a dynamic and pleasant visual presentation. The image depth is off the charts too, with immense subtle detail visible, down to threads on suits and other fine textures. The warm color scheme holds up well, with bright and natural hues, while contrast remains stark and on the mark from the first episode to the last. Simply put, these episodes look excellent and if you suffered through the broadcasts, this will look like a brand new show.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD 5.1 soundtracks are adequate and free from errors, but the show’s sound design doesn’t offer much chance to shine. The audio remains anchored in the front channels for the most part and when the surrounds do kick in, they’re not dynamic or memorable. Even so, the series doesn’t call for that kind of power, so it isn’t missed that much. The vocals come across in clear, clean fashion, which is crucial and the music sounds great also. In the end, the audio here doesn’t dazzle, but it does what it needs to and that is what matters. This release also includes subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

If you’re a fan of audio commentaries, you’ll love this release, as the thirteen episodes have a total of twenty-three sessions, with at least one for each episode. The participants are a wide selection of cast and crew members, such that if there is someone you want to hear from, they’re probably in there somewhere. As you can imagine, there is a wealth of information and with so many perspectives, there is never a lack of dialogue to be heard. Next is Establishing Mad Men, an over hour long look inside the show’s creation and production. This piece takes us on set to watch how an episode is produced, from the earliest stages to completion, in no small detail. All kinds of topics are covered, from the writing process to production design, each one supplemented by interviews with prominent Mad Men workers. This release also includes a twenty minute look at the world of advertising, a brief featurette on the show’s music, and some production photos.

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