Mad Men: the Final Season Part 2 Blu-ray Review
‘Mad Men’ was always about creating the feel of a long lost era. Audiences loved watching Don Draper command a room and get the big win, then go back to his office and down a couple of bourbons before taking a nap and leaving early to meet up with whatever beautiful woman he was dating. Like most people, I ate up every second of it and after watching the final few episodes, I’m sad the show is over, even if I wasn’t impressed with how it ended.
Perhaps that’s the main problem of ‘Mad Men’; it didn’t really have much of a point, other than to draw audiences into the time period and make it fun for them. The characters didn’t really do much and although Draper was a rich, deeply conflicted man, he was most loved when he was on top of his game and not when he was dwelling on how he got there. It’s hard to end a show like that since the characters didn’t really go anywhere the previous six seasons. The only possible chance of sending ‘Mad Men’ out with a bang was to do something extreme with Don Draper and it was clear creator Matt Weiner was unwilling to do anything drastic with his beloved Draper.
The second part of the final season is, for the most part, more of the same from the Mad Men gang. After avoiding disaster earlier in the season, the gang is set up comfortably managing their business under the ownership of McCann Erickson. But eventually their owners decide to bring the entire Sterling Cooper gang into their control and everyone realizes that means the end of their lives as they know it. That forces each of them to decide what they want out of life and each of them decide to go their separate ways. Peggy (Olson) is most comfortable continuing her job at McCann. Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) has his sights set on bigger and better things outside the ad world, Joan (Christina Hendricks) starts her own company and Roger (Slattery) is happy settling down with Marie (Julia Ormond).
And there’s Don Draper. For most of the second part of the final season, Don his happy being Don. But when the corporate life at McCann proves unsettling, he picks up and heads off on a road trip across the country. We’ve seen Don do things like this before and I’m not sure this time was much different than his previous excursions. I think the point this time was that he was doing a better, cleaner job of inner reflection, which allowed him to become at peace with who he is and change his self-destructive ways.
Personally, I wanted something more from the final season. I wanted something extreme to happen to Don Draper and I wanted the entire season to focus on that event. Bad series finales set up something big and then change course (Dexter) while others build up to something big and then deliver (Breaking Bad). ‘Mad Men’ falls somewhere in the middle and perhaps the worst thing I can say about it is that it had no impact at all. I did enjoy the final 30 seconds, which hinted that Don returned to the advertising world and created that famous Coke ad (a big assumption, but that’s what I interpreted), but that was too little, too late.
‘Mad Men’ will always hold a place in my heart and I’m sure I’ll revisit the series in a few years. I was elated to see Jon Hamm win a much deserved and long overdue Emmy and his Don Draper will go down in TV history as one of the best TV characters. But I can’t help but be disappointed with the lack of resolution for the characters of ‘Mad Men’. I felt they deserved a bigger sendoff instead of the whimper they received.
Video: Every episode of ‘Mad Men’ looked fantastic on Blu-ray
Audio: The audio was fine.
Commentaries on all seven episodes: Matthew Weiner shows up on all seven commentaries and Jon Hamm shows up for the finale. Weiner does a pretty good commentary and has a lot of opinions on every episode. I didn’t find anything enlightening in any of the commentaries, but those wanting more ‘Mad Men’ will enjoy them.
Generation Boom: Baby Boomers (25:45): As has become tradition for the Blu-rays of ‘Mad Men’, we get a feature on the generation depicted in the season.
Unmarried Professional Woman (29:40): A look at some of the struggles of the women of the generation and this season.
Earth Day 1970 (2:41): A quick look at the first Earth Day.
Laurel Canyon (2:41): A brief tour of this area of LA.