Blu-Ray Review: ‘Mad Men: Season Two’ Sets Standard For HD Television

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CHICAGO – Television doesn’t get much better than “Mad Men” and the Blu-Ray release that brings home the second season, recently nominated for several Emmy Awards, is quite simply one of the best HD TV home releases yet produced. With perfect video and audio and an unbelievable amount of special features, “Mad Men: Season Two” is a must-add for any collector of great television. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

With just two seasons, AMC’s “Mad Men” has already cemented its place on any list of the best television programs of the ’00s. The Golden Globe-winning series for Best Drama became arguably richer and deeper in season two as the characters at advertising agency Sterling/Cooper moved deeper into one of the most significant eras of change in our country.

Mad Men: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray on July 14th, 2009.
Mad Men: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray on July 14th, 2009.
Photo credit: Lionsgate

Set against the backdrop of 1962, the writers shifted the focus of season two to the women in the world of “Mad Men”. Betty Draper (the incredible January Jones) saw her perfect world of domesticity shatter after one too many lies from her advertising mogul husband Don (Emmy nominee Jon Hamm). Peggy (Emmy nominee Elisabeth Moss) moved up the corporate ladder while dealing with her own secrets. Even Joan (Christina Hendricks) had her most interesting arc to date as she struggled with her own shot at corporate success and realized that Mr. Right isn’t always as perfect as he seems.

Mad Men: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray on July 14th, 2009.
Mad Men: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray on July 14th, 2009.
Photo credit: Lionsgate

All of this was set against the backdrop of the rising fame of Jackie Kennedy and the demise of Marilyn Monroe. It was incredibly deep, complex, daring writing, the kind that used to be reserved solely for HBO.

There are so many things that work about “Mad Men” that it’s hard to know where to begin. The ensemble is one of the best on television. They were correctly acclaimed for season one and, to an actor, all got better in season two. Hamm is likely to win the Emmy, but the women were the stand-out in season two and Jones, Moss, and Hendricks all did some of the best work on television.

The ensemble wouldn’t be as effective without the complex, fascinating writing or the best production design on television. The period is so perfectly recreated that it can be sometimes startling to realize that you’re not watching a film. You usually don’t see this level of design on television.

Ultimately, TV has always been and will always be about the writing. Creator Matthew Weiner and his team on “Mad Men” are producing something that has yet to falter in quality over two complete seasons. These are television scripts that don’t always connect the dots and actually have the potential to inspire conversation about character motivation, thematic continuity, and emotional impact.

Of course, a show as richly detailed as “Mad Men” works best in 1080P and Lionsgate has really out-done themselves with “Season Two,” a set that stands with the “Lost” and HBO Blu-Rays as the best TV on Blu-Ray. Not only is each episode pristinely presented, but the special features will keep you entranced for days.

Mad Men: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray on July 14th, 2009.
Mad Men: Season Two was released on Blu-Ray on July 14th, 2009.
Photo credit: Lionsgate

The best way to learn about the production of “Mad Men” is to do so from the people who make the show. So, each episode includes two full-length audio commentaries, usually presented as one with behind-the-scenes talent (directors, writers, etc.) and the other with cast members. If you watch each episode on its own and then with each commentary track, you’ll get over 30 hours of entertainment for your hard-earned dollar.

Separate, non-commentary special features include a music sampler, “Birth of an Independent Woman,” “An Era of Style,” and an interactive time capsule that pays homage to historical events of the 1960s and the daring generation that lived through them.

Hours of commentary tracks and perfect video and audio are what all Blu-Ray on television should provide, but what really stands out about “Mad Men: Season Two” is the show itself. This is fantastic, must-see television presented for home audiences in the best possible way. It’s easily one of the best TV Blu-Rays released to date.

‘Mad Men: Season Two’ is released by Lionsgate Home Video and stars Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Bryann Batt, Aaron Staton, Christina Hendricks, Michael Gladis, January Jones, Rich Sommer, and John Slattery. It was created by Matthew Weiner. The Blu-Ray and DVD were released on July 14th, 2009. It is not rated. content director Brian Tallerico

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