If you score a “3” or higher on the MAD MEN obsession scale (1 = you think nothing ever happens to 10 = you mouth the dialogue spoken by each character during each episode), then you need to own this collection.
The complete collection comes beautifully packaged in a stylish box with 23-discs in a “book format” that contains sleeves for each disc. A word of warning – the discs fit snuggly in the sleeves and that makes it a bit nerve-wracking because too much pressure can damage the disc. Instead of tugging the disc straight out, try rotating while gently pulling to literally roll the disc out of the sleeve. Inside the disc book is the code for the entire series HD digital download and a very charming note from Matthew Weiner on SCP letterhead.
Also included are two silver-rimmed glass (not plastic!) old fashioned glasses, just like the ones on Don Draper’s bar cart in the original Sterling Cooper office. There are four cork coasters to protect your mid-century modern coffee table from cocktail glass rings.
Twenty-two of the 23 discs are those were released for each individual season with outstanding picture and sound quality in the Blu-ray format. But, oh that 23rd disc; It is the bonus disc that contains over four hours of material that is available only in this collection in two categories labeled as “Featurettes” and “MAD MEN Advertising Archives.”
- “One-on-one with Matthew Weiner” A montage of production stills from episodes throughout the series are interspersed with excerpts of a recorded interview with Matthew Weiner that is full of anecdotes, stories, and insights that are labeled “secrets of my success.” As you might expect, many of these vignettes are very funny (oh that Matthew Weiner giggle) and also adds significantly to the overall appreciation of the level of attention that he paid to each episode and character.
- “The Men of Sterling Cooper” is split into two parts with the following actors: Ben Feldmen (Michael Ginsberg); Kevin Rahm (Ted Chaoug); Harry Hamlin (Jim Cutler); Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey); Bryan Batt (Salvatore Romano); Robert Morse (Bert Cooper); Aaron Staton (Ken Cosgrove); Rich Sommers (Harry Crane); Jared Harris (Lane Pryce); and Jay Ferguson (Stan Rizzo). The chemistry among these actors is genuine and their comments are hilarious, especially when each introduces himself and is asked to describe his character with one word.
- “Main Cast Wrap-Up” is also split into two parts with the following actors: Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway Harris); Elizabeth Moss (Petty Olson); Vincent Kartheiser (Peter Campbell); John Slattery (Roger Sterling); Jon Hamm (Donald Draper); Jessica Pare (Megan Calvert Draper); January Jones (Betty Draper Francis); Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper) and Christopher Staley (Henry Francis). In contrast to the previous segments, the vibe among these primary actors is strikingly somber when each talks about particular scenes and characters. The more serious tone is best explained by John Slattery’s comments that concludes part 2 and provides a glimpse into how emotional the end of this series was for these actors.
- “Casting MAD MEN” provides a fascinating view into the casting process with Laura Schiff and Carrie Audino, who became the casting directors after the pilot was shot and the production moved from New York to Los Angeles. This very lively discussion includes the only actor who was cast without having to audition, the one (and only) audition that Matthew Weiner was not present for (and why), and which of these casting directors Matthew Weiner always insisted read Don Draper’s lines during auditions. In particular they discuss “casting finds” including Marten Weiner as Glenn Bishop, Alison Brie as Trudy Campbell, and other key characters.
- “Cast Favs” is a very engaging series of segments in which individual cast and crew members share their favorite pitches, lines and scenes. The enthusiasm that these actors have for their favorites was fun to watch, especially when so many of their favorites are easily those most loved by fans.
- “Design of a Decade” is an intimate conversation with Janie Bryant that provides wonderful insights and little-known details involved in costuming these characters. Some of her original costume sketches with fabric swatches appear along with fascinating details, such as which movie and actor provided the inspiration for Don Draper’s look, her own favorite costume moments, who is the worst-dressed character, the one “mother-daughter” costume decision, and the styling behind the fashion for each season’s promotional scenes (which never appeared in any actual episode).
- “Historical Timeline” is perhaps the weakness of the featurettes and provides a montage of still photos and segments of key characters and scenes that are mapped onto historical, political and cultural events represented by political speeches, newspaper headlines, news clips and cultural artifacts. The problem is that this feature has great potential, but is brief and seems as if it was either an afterthought or was not as developed as it could have been. Nevertheless, it does provide an overview of the highlights of the decade covered throughout the Mad Men time frame.
MAD MEN Advertising Archives:
Organized by each season, this bonus feature provides a gallery of the artwork that was developed for various advertising campaigns that were instrumental to storylines each season. Many of these examples were included in client pitch meetings seen throughout the series, but there are also examples of art work that never made it on screen.
A few final comments:
While Some fans will still be upset rejoice that there are the missing no audio commentaries for the season 6 episodes, and the commentaries for the episodes for the second half of season 7 are wonderful. All commentaries include Matthew Weiner and key writers, except episode 7.08, which includes Janie Bryant and Scott Hornbacher, 7.10 features Jennifer Getzinger and Jonathan Igla, and an extra special treat for the final episode, 7.14 is a commentary with Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm.
The only thing that could make this collection any better is if you make sure to keep a copy of MAD MEN Carousel by Matt Zoller Seitz (with contributions by Deborah and Roberta Lipp) nearby as you revisit each one of the 92 episodes that are the chapters of the marvelous, literary television series that is MAD MEN.