Just looking at the packaging for the first season of Mad Men -- now on DVD from Lionsgate -- reminds me of Don Draper's sales pitch in the finale: "It's not a spaceship, it's a time machine." He was of course talking about a slide projector, and techno-flash versus the intangible, but it's a fitting description of both the Zippo-like DVD packaging and the effect of the series as a whole. Mad Men has been like traveling back in time for an hour every Thursday night, with great attention to details in the costumes, lighting, and of course smoking. (Scroll below to watch the pilot online.)
Any regular readers of this space know that I'm a huge fan of the show, so I won't go too far into rehashing last season, as that's what the special features in this beautiful DVD set do -- almost too much, if that's possible. There's at least one commentary included for each episode, and in many cases multiple commentaries -- 23 total for the 13 episodes, highlighted by John Slattery giving a technical look behind the scenes at how his character Roger Sterling "tossed" an oyster-and-martini-filled lunch.
In addition, there are two fascinating documentaries, Advertising the American Dream, which looks at how the advertising industry worked in the 1960s, and Establishing Mad Men, which follows the development of the series from start to shooting. It's quite a lot to chew on, but those who truly love the series will want this deluxe package, even for the $49.95 price tag.
The box arrives just in time to relive (or catch up, for those who somehow missed the train) all the goings on at Sterling Cooper before season two is upon us on July 27th. At that point, we'll all be playing catching up, figuring out what happened in the 14 months' time that has elapsed. (Season two begins on Valentine's Day, 1962.)
Meanwhile, last week also saw the release of a soundtrack to the series, Mad Men: Music From the Series, Vol. 1. Featuring Vic Damone, The McGuire Sisters, Bobby Vinton, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney and more, the soundtrack mirrors the time and place -- but as my readers know, it does so much more. In reference to the music, creator Matthew Weiner has said, "Music on Mad Men is never an accident. The philosophy of the sound was pointed: do as much to enhance the feeling of the period while offering an artistic commentary to the themes of each show." It's worth noting that there's at least an expectation for further volumes in the soundtrack series, which I'm looking forward to, naturally.
If you want to relive, or just try a big-toe dip, here's the pilot that introduced us to Don Draper and the Sterling Cooper agency: