Monday, November 9, 2009

Speaking of Madison Avenue, I watched Sunday night’s Season Three finale of Mad Men, AMC’s paean to masculinity, persuasion and cigarettes, and, as usual, was entertained by the show’s writing but also by my memory of past shows that had daddies working in advertising, shows such as Bewitched (1964-1972) and Thirtysomething (1987-1991). (Note that the time between the final episode of Bewitched and the first episode of Thirtysomething is within a year of the final episode of Thirtysomething and the first episode of Mad Men, which debuted in 2007.)

Although not surprised by Sunday’s episode (season finales either protract or accelerate the usual flow of events), I was awed by a shot taken from the perspective of the cast: their collective last look at the office of Sterling Cooper, a beautiful arrangement of desks and chairs that spoke more to the end of the 1950s than the end of 1963. Indeed, that many believe the “Sixties” began in 1964 (and ended in 1973) suggests that next year’s shows will have “Don” and “Roger” coming to work not in suits but in suede car coats, their office walls adorned not with Rothkos but Ruschas.

How long Mad Men will run is hard to say. Bewitched lasted eight seasons (with two Darrins), while Thirtysomething (which had a large cast) lasted four. Law & Order has been on TV how many years now? But of those years, has anyone stayed on from the beginning? I like the idea of a show outlasting its characters, so I will be curious to see the kinds of characters the show’s producers introduce next season. How far a show with “mad” in the title will last into the “Sixties” can only be worth watching.

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