Friday, August 14, 2009

'Mad Men' Reviews, 'Morning Joe' Cast as 'Mad Men,' Plus Hamm's Early Acting Gigs

Mad Men season three premiere reviews are starting to roll in -- for those lucky folks who got advanced media screeners -- and the reviews appear to be really good, as good as I expected they'd be. Which only means my expectations for Sunday night's episode are now, oh, I don't know . . . sky high?

From the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley: "Even more than in the first two years, this new season, which begins on Sunday on AMC, stresses the less amusing side of that innocence, leading viewers to look back, aghast at, and enthralled by, a world so familiar and so primitive. Characters on Mad Men struggle in shame and secrecy with the very things that today are openly, incessantly boasted and blogged about: humble roots, broken homes, homosexuality, unwed motherhood, caring for senile parents."

Boston Globe, Matthew Gilbert: "Sunday's hour is, like many episodes of Mad Men, quiet on the surface. There are pauses in conversation, and almost no soundtrack music fills the silences and emotional vacancies. And yet the subject matter of this show shouts at you the more you think about it, the more the characters don't say what you know they are feeling. In even the smallest details -- watch how a stick pin travels through the episode -- Mad Men remains TV at its most artful. Like Don Draper, it's beautiful, stealthy, trouble, and, above all, addictive."

Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker (who gave the episode an A-): "The third-season premiere of Mad Men is chock-full of revelations about familiar characters and fresh details about newly introduced ones, as well as the sort of specifics and symbolism that creator Matthew Weiner layers into every episode like a top Top Chef. As with so much about Mad Men, some of it is overheated but never half-baked, and the opening hour rises like a nearly flawless souffle of sex and salesmanship." (I'm in love with that phrase, "flawless souffle of sex and salesmanship." Wish I'd come up with it.)

Los Angeles Times, Robert Lloyd: "That nothing much seems to be happening -- and happening slowly at that, to the frustration of some viewers -- means that small moments play large; it's television as Japanese tea ceremony. Characters are built gradually through action, not declaration, and that action might stray far from what is eventually revealed as the main point. There are those who find this all precious beyond belief -- with an average of only 1.8 million viewers an episode last season, this is a series that would not survive at all on broadcast television -- but I find it quite beautiful more often than not."

Meanwhile, people are having a bit of fun with all of this Mad Men mania leading up to the season three premiere, in particular, the folks at Mediaite who took the crew from MSNBC's Morning Joe and assigned them roles on Mad Men, casting the show's namesake, Joe Scarborough as Don Draper, Mika Brzezinski as Joan Holloway and Willie Geist as the slimy Pete Campbell. Of Scarborough, writers Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNicol observed:

"Scarborough, a former Congressman, is certainly no stranger to selling, nor does he lack for Draper-esque confidence. We've noticed he's traded in his zipper sweatshirts for dark suits of late, but that's not all it is -- of any character on Morning Joe, he's the one we can most easily see sitting in a darkened bar with a glass of something amber at his side. Besides, couldn't his book [The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise] on the GOP just as easily have been called Meditations on an Emergency?"

Over on BuzzFeed, they must've taken a little visit to IMDB to look up Jon Hamm's acting roles and listed his top six acting gigs, including the time he was Lorelai Gilmore's most boring date ever on the Gilmore Girls and when he was a firefighter on Providence before the days of Denis Leary as an alcoholic firefighter with a death wish.

Image credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC.

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