STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $49.98
RUNNING TIME: 611 Minutes

  • Great box for your shelf. The packaging looks like Don’s white shirt in a box!
  • Original air dates: July 27–October 26, 2008
  • You get a coupon! That’s right. There is some interesting viral marketing involving Clorox bleach and lipstick on the collar.

Mad Men Season 2

welcomes you to the year 1962. And I mean 1962 with the girdles off,
crinolines pulled up, and the office doors flung open. What we think we
know about the era–the clothes, the products, the music, the social
protocol–and what was real–the affairs, the crappy parenting, the
denial, and the longing for a fuller life than the propriety of the time
allows, we realize is only the surface. Mad Men
is about the bras and girdles the women wore, and who they let undress
them. It’s the closest thing to a soap opera that I will ever
watch.  But it doesn’t even smell faintly of the melodrama that
soap operas unfortunately offer. It’s far more nuanced and developed.

“Maybe they will notice  me by the stench of my Kotex.”

you’re watching this, you get to pull up your pillow and blanket to the
fishbowl, lay on your tummy, and watch what these specimens of the 60’s
do. We watch them as they are forced forward through time on waves of
events that are now history to us. They drive the cars we envy and wear
the fashion we love. You see them interact to modern art, grapple with
new technology, and face the reality of the changing demographics of the
workplace.  We get to sit in the conference room with them at
Sterling Cooper and become privy to some of the greatest monologues on
television. All at once, what an airline advertising campaign meant to
the people of the 60’s is profound.

“One of these men wants to put his bone in my peep. I just have to figure out which one!”

The Gist:

season opens with a now thin Peggy. The truth about what happens to her
unwanted child is carefully unfolded throughout the season, in very
small, yet shocking tidbits. Our love for Peggy becomes deep and
bittersweet as we see her deal with a profound secret aging side by side
with her growing corporate success. She also finds the most unlikely
and beautiful mentor this season, filling a hole we’d always had with
her character–a female not threatened by her, who cheers her on.

find out that Joan, the red-headed bombshell is not as strong as she
seems. She is involved in a compromising relationship although she has a
huge ring on her finger now. We begin to feel near sympathy for the
office bitch as her role as a fiancee to an abusive doctor compromises
the strength we know she has.

“Where does the fabric softener go?”

marriage takes a turn for the worse and Betty kicks him out. This means
we get to see Betty’s waxing and waning attempts at survival and
keeping up appearances. This also means that all bets are off when it
comes to Don and his penis, and we find it goes more places than we care
to imagine. However, we find out more about Don’s past and what we come
to realize almost numbs the shock of the numerous extra-marital
affairs. The reveal about his past is one of the greatest treats Mad Men has to offer this season.

“So you pooped under this table. Right here…”

finally see Betty Draper as less of a victim as her conniving,
revengeful side comes out. She becomes a survivor. January Jones’
performance of Betty as she becomes increasingly bedraggled is notable.

relationship between Peggy and her boss Don Draper becomes one of
strong, quiet allies. It thankfully stays platonic, but is no less
nuanced. I refuse to ruin it for you. It’s one of the best story lines
of the season.

Campbell grows increasingly unhappy in his marriage as his wife becomes
obsessed with having a child. His character becomes so much more
likeable in this season because we see him a bit trapped.  He
mouths off to her and we like him for it. He has a mind of his own and
we respect him for it.

“Put a baby in my oven, or I’m going to SCREAM!”

Cooper, the ad agency becomes a character in and of itself, an aging
beast that is forced to keep up with the times and risks being sold. The
ad campaigns boiling in the conference room are still very much what
this show is about. Don’s monologues represent an awareness of the times
and a sensitivity for the direction the world was headed in. You’ll
consider pushing the rewind button almost every time.

also see the aspect of homosexuality dealt with for the first time. One
minor character new to this season is openly gay. Another character is
trapped, married, and longing for a streamlined life.

The Shortcomings:

warned: you will nearly hate Don Draper’s character by the end of this
season. Between his numerous affairs, abandonment of his job, and a few
episodes of remarkably crappy parenting, it gets really hard to find any
empathy at all for him, even knowing his difficult personal history.
Also, they tried to pack too much in the final episode. We are
ill-prepared for Pete Campbell’s revelation to Peggy at the end of the
show, and it nearly spoils everything you come to like about his
developing persona.  Thankfully, this show doesn’t have many
parts that don’t work so well.

“My peep hurts from excessive extra-marital probing.”

The Spoilers:

You’re welcome! Season 2 of Madmen has gifted you with the following fantastic events…

    Someone jacks off.
    Someone pisses themselves.
    A woman periods on the couch.
    A celebrity gets punched in the face.
    A kid gets drunk and passes out.
    A father grabs his daughter’s titty.
    A cooked turkey flies over the balcony.
    A robot gets smashed.
    Someone gets bailed out of jail.
    Someone gets into a car accident.
    Someone gets raped.
    Someone claims to be a “homosexswuwal.”

“I’m sorry I got mad at you for cumming on my tits.”

The Extras:

did not mess around with the extras. It’s as if the makers of this DVD
set know that you must be in love with the 60’s. How can you not? It’s
the beginning of feminism, the sexual revolution, and equal rights. It’s
the opportunity to let us gasp at the evening dresses and to peek at
their lingerie. It introduces us to the unique consumer products of the
60’s through their eyes. Basically, the producers of this DVD saw a huge
opportunity for us to have our fetishes for 60’s nostalgia and our
appreciation for the history further indulged… and they delivered. I’m
impressed. I’m satisfied. And here’s a couple of kickers, at least for
me: They didn’t dumb the material on the extras down and they didn’t
tack on the documentary aspect. It’s all woven in wonderfully with
footage from the episodes you just enjoyed, bridging that gap for you.
Here’s what you get:

of an Independent Woman, Part 1 and Part 2: You get a crash course on
feminism! They owed us this, and they delivered. It would have been a
crime to make a show set in this decade and not have a comment about its
place in the history of feminism. Even the layman can enjoy Mad Men
with his or her minimal knowledge of the 60’s and enjoy the show as it
is, and yet they offer us additional historical perspective, weaving
great old footage from the actual 60’s with carefully chosen footage
from Mad Men episodes from both seasons. They cover contraception,
abortion, sex lives of single females, fashion, changing roles in family
and work dynamics, and how assertive women became a threat in the
workplace during what we’ve always perceived as a demure era. Don’t
worry–they laid off the propaganda. It’s entertaining and yet not
dumbed down.

Era of Style”: For those that love and appreciate fashion from the
sixties, this focus on the fashion style of the decade is for you.
Again, it’s woven in with stills and footage from actual Mad Men
episodes. They explain how it represents the identity politics of the
era. It’s smart. It’s a blast from the past. It’s deliciously nostalgic.
This is worth the watch.

In all seriousness… this is typical of how beautifully this show is shot.

Capsule” –Historical Events of the 1960s: What they don’t beat you
over the head with during the episodes is that each one carefully
touches on some piece of history or prominent historical site from the
60’s and weaves it into the story. It’s not didactic, though. They leave
that for the extras. Almost every episode has its corresponding five to
ten minute documentary in this “time capsule” treat they made for you.
With the exception of a couple of awkwardly included cooking shows and
restaurant features, these serve to flesh out the history of the
episodes of Mad Men that you already enjoyed. Some of the treats include
documentary information on Maidenform bras,  Jackie Kennedy’s
tour of the White House, The Defenders, the Port Huron Statement,
Rothko’s Art, Marilyn Monroe, the Freedom Riders, the Space Race, Hot
Rods, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the film history of The Man Who Shot
Liberty Valance and how it reflects the sentiment of the times. Let’s
not forget that these time capsule tidbits include actual footage from
episodes of Mad Men. This part of the extras is not tacked on as an
afterthought for potential history buffs, but carefully weave the story
lines of Mad Men
into actual history for us. This “Time Capsule” is some of the best few
minutes you spend on any of these DVD’s. They don’t mess around.

Sterling Cooper secretaries come manicured on the outside and char-grilled on the inside.

The commentary tracks:

not missing much if you skip any of the commentary tracks that include
January Jones, who plays Betty Draper. For someone so close to the
material, she offers no intelligent insight as to how her character at
times both embodied and bucked against the era in which she lived. She
offers tidbits about how hot it was when they were shooting and what it
was like to act with the kids (boring). She contributed nothing more
than a few giggles and the ability to laugh at her own character, and I
wasn’t impressed. It’s a lost opportunity and a damn shame.

on the commentary tracks are Matthew Weiner and John Hamm. John Hamm is
great enough to offer both an actor’s perspective about the show as
well as some profound insight into his character.

are the commentaries by Scott Hornbacher, Dan Bishop, and Amy Wells.
They’re the co-executive producer, production designer, and set
decorator, respectively. They’re not artsy-fartsy. They’re down to
earth. I was going to watch a couple of minutes of their commentary and
couldn’t pause it. They had too much to offer. They’re commentary really
serves to flesh out the Mad Men experience, and they’re pleasantly
entertaining and educational without the obnoxious, self-aggrandizing
banter you often find in commentaries.

9.0 out of 10