16th Nov2014

‘Mad Men: The Final Season Part 1′ Review

by Paul Metcalf

mad-men-final-season-part-1

Mad Men is one of those shows that you often see people complimenting and raving about, but I never really got into it.  It may be a strange thing to do but now it is in its final season I gave in.  Watching Mad Men: The Final Season Part 1 with little knowledge of the complete series may be a little silly, but all good shows should invite new viewers to them, no matter how deep into the story they are.  If it is as good as people say, hell I can just catch up with the rest later on.

At the start of the final season Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is fighting his way back into the agency while other partners most notably Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) fights to finally remove him from the company.  As Don tows the line and gets his work done a new computer is installed which revolutionises the way the agency works but also creates tension and paranoia.  With things changing and the day of the moon landing bringing a tragic twist to the power struggle can Roger (John Slattery) protect Don, or has Cutler finally gained the edge he needed?

Knowing that the show centres on Don Draper and Jon Hamm’s portrayal of the character it came as no surprise to me that he is so likable and easy to empathise with.  The character may be seen as the best the company has but there is more of an emphasis on the fact that he is in a war for his career where the cards are stacked against him and powerful people such as Cutler and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) are major players with grudges that push them to fight against him.  Being this is only the first part of the war it’s impressive just how many turns the story takes before the chance of a solution is cruelly taken away from us with the end of the first half of the final season.

For people like me who are new to the series, Mad Men: The Final Season Part 1 is actually easy to get into and you do pick up the story line quickly without too many real issues.  There are obvious stories from previous seasons that tend to get overlooked as I don’t know the history of them, but I can fix that by going back to the beginning and catching up.  The important elements are treated in a way that they don’t cause too much confusion.  Focusing on the story of Draper it’s easy to pick up the fact that he is looking for redemption, to fix what he failed at and get back to being on top, or at worst just having a job in the agency.

Part of the reason that I found the show so easy to get into is the fact that the characters are quirky.  There is a light tone to the show, even though you would expect it to be darker and more cutthroat.  Even Lou Avery (Allan Havey) who fights to stay as Draper’s replacement doesn’t really have a hard edge, and while Cutler is the more hard faced business man with the power to be a true asshole his character feels like a restrained cobra ready to bite, but knows to bide his time to get the perfect strike.  It’s this oddball and offbeat feeling to the show that for me makes it enticing and actually catches my interest.  Especially the final scenes that end this instalment of season seven.

As Mad Men: The Final Season Part 1 ended in a memorable way I do look forward to seeing the final episodes and seeing if Don Draper wins out in the end (how can he not?).  I may find the time to watch the previous seasons to catch up on all what I’ve missed but I’m impressed that the show is so easy to become hooked on, even this late in.  With standout performances from pretty much the entire cast Mad Men is an example of television at its best.

***** 5/5

Mad Men: The Final Season Part 1 is available in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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