If you have cable, set aside an hour on Wednesday at 10 p.m. to watch the pilot episode of "Mad Men" on AMC. Or at least fire up your DVR.
The introductory episode of this period piece about Madison Avenue ad execs in the ’50s is dazzling. It’s rare for a show to posess such poise and confidence in its debut.
The tone is perfect. As it began, I felt like I’d stumbled into a program that had already hit its stride. The cinematography undoubtedly has a lot to do with the crisp look, which is like a page out of Life magazine. [Editor’s note: the music is incredible, too!] AMC snuck its "Mad Men" crew from the HBO talent closet, stacking the deck with producers, writers, directors and others boasting "Sopranos" and "Big Love" credits.
I wonder — did HBO pass on this program in favor of dreck like "John From Cincinnati?" If so, they should be ashamed.
The actors on MM all do a fine job, and many of them may seem vaguely familiar to viewers. A peek at the IMDB cast list reveals a smattering of smaller roles on network shows I personally haven’t seen.
Attitudes towards women and minorities were very different a half-century ago, and "Mad Men" casts a harsh light on the era’s often reprehensible status quo. It’s refereshing to see a retro show that doesn’t gloss these biases over with a sheen of supposed innocence.
And the characters drink. A lot.
I can only hope that the next episode is as good as the first.