Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: 'Mad Men' season two preview

Today's column looks at season two of "Mad Men" through the eyes of the production team responsible for the look of Don, Betty, Peggy, Joan and company:
LOS ANGELES - The ashtrays at Sterling-Cooper are full.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who watched the first season of AMC's "Mad Men," in which the executives who work at this fictional early '60s ad agency drink, eat, have sex and, especially, smoke to excess. But it's still startling, in 2008, to witness the mountain of half-smoked cigarette butts in one of the many ashtrays that ring the set in the show's studio.

It even troubles the "Mad Men" production team, albeit for different reasons.

"Sometimes they kind of bug me because they're messy," says the show's set decorator, Amy Wells. "We have these long discussions about how many cigarettes they would really allow to be left, and they go, 'Well, if you're smoking so many packs a day, and if you have this many people smoking...' and I go, 'Yeah, but they would clean out the ashtray!'"

That kind of argument isn't uncommon on the "Mad Men" set, where the production team sweats every detail in order to create the world of Sterling-Cooper and its people.
To read the full thing, click here. I have an episode one review ready to go for 11 o'clock, so check back then to talk about the premiere.


arrabbiata said...

The production design of this show is certainly part of the appeal. As an artist who sometimes makes use of vintage objects in my work (for me, sometimes the things from the late 50's/early 60's look more like the things they are than contemporary versions of those things), I appreciate the level of detail, and how it contributes to the atmosphere.

However, it's the writing and the characters and perfomances that really make the show. Without all that, it's just pretty pictures. Look at CBS's Swingtown- it takes more than period props, costumes, and situations to make an interesting and engaging series.

Really looking forward to tonight's premier.

kat said...

Can I just say that I appreciate how you've kept Mad Men spoilers out of your posts? I'm on the edge of my seat for the S2 premiere, but I've consciously avoided spoilers (not that they're not playing close to the vest with leaked information anyway) but I clicked on a pretty innocuous article in Newsweek today which spilled what I would consider a very substantial plot point.

Anyway, I'll look forward to checking back for your review this evening after the first episode has aired.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the West coast and still have to wait more than 3 hours for the season 2 premiere. It's going to take every ounce of self-control to stay off your website until after I've seen it.

Capcom said...

Speaking as someone who was a kid back in those days, there were indeed a lot of ratty filled-to-the-brim ashtrays around everywhere. Especially in public places.

And when I first got to IBM in 1974, people would smoke in the hallways and drop and smash their butts out on the floor and leave them there to accumulate until the cleaners came at night. :-p This went on until IBM prohibited smoking anywhere indoors.