Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Mixed Premiere

I went to a friend's house for the Season 3 premiere of Mad Men on Sunday. Someone had made the suggestion to dress up in the show's (considerable) style. Being lazy, and not particularly stylish, I did no such thing. The two people who took the dress suggestion most seriously, one man and one woman, looked fantastic. So fantastic that the evening actually did feel like an event. If only the show had been so good.

The people on hand (there were about 10 of us) spanned the fandom spectrum. Two people had never seen the show. The rest of us were up to speed, some of us bigger admirers of the series than others. When I first started watching the show, I wrote here that I liked it but was annoyed by its "glaze of self-satisfaction for presenting a view of the ’50s that’s been essentially canonized for three decades." I still think the whiff of obvious insider's jokes that comes with observing the '50s in 2009 gets in the show's way sometimes. I'm glad to watch it, but talk of it in the same league as The Wire or The Sopranos is insane to me.

Sunday's premiere landed with a thud in the room where I watched it. I thought it was an average episode, but some others who had been greatly anticipating it felt more disappointed. It did feature two of the show's greatest weaknesses (no real spoilers ahead):

1. Draper flashbacks. These are almost always an ideal way to bring any episode to an awkward, screeching halt. They're often terrible, but to start a season with maybe the worst-ever example was not a brilliant move.

2. Bad plot contrivances. To avoid spoilers, I'll just say that no drama has ever used a hotel fire escape in quite such a silly way. Oh well.

But . . . there was enough to keep me happy(ish). I wanted more Peggy, and definitely more Roger Sterling (on whom I have an unabashed man crush), and of course more Joan, but I'm sure I'll get them as the season progresses.



Blogger Shannon said...

Agreed. More Roger Sterling, please. I lean closer to the television when he is on screen.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Mrs. White said...

I completely agree. It seems like Mad Men is such a critical darling that it's hard to criticize it, but the season 3 premiere definitely left me wanting more. And that opening flashback? So clunky and strange...

6:17 PM  

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