Sunday, October 26, 2008

Things I Love: Mad Men

It's been a long time since I've been engaged by an episode of television the way I was for tonight's season finale of Mad Men. Edge of the couch, goosebumps prickling my arms, hand over my mouth. AHH!

I think the show gets to me so much because it is so gradual and complex, layered with thematically linked plots and flawed, interesting characters. But what really makes it powerful and unique is its RESTRAINT. Less is always more on that show. There are moments you yearn for over the course of a whole season, conversations you wish people would have, confrontations that build and build and build. Tonight we finally got a couple - but instead of the knee-jerk dramatic reactions you might expect, the breakdowns, the slamming of doors, the exposing of feelings, the plans of what to do or predictions of what's to come, you get one line. Or one look. I'm always in awe of the subtlety and intensity of that show.

I had coffee with a Legitimate TV Writer on Saturday and she thought it would be a good show to spec. Perhaps I will.

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omarjmh said...

yeah, spec it, im trying one now. Its probably the hardest show right now to nail, in terms of tone and dialogue. I had a meeting with an exec producer who said if you nail a Mad Men your gold!!

Dan In LA said...

I'm too intimidated. There's always a few period references that fly right over my head. And damn, the dialogue is sharp.

Though, it would be kind of a relief to know it's off the air for 9 months... That at least gives you a *little* time before your storyline is outdated.

Greg M said...

Really liked the Season 2 finale, though my favorite episodes are either "The Gold Violin" or "A Night to Remember" (the using-Betty-to-sell-Heineken episodes.) Then again, the brilliance of Mad Men is more cumulative. Can one *have* a favorite episode?
I do agree with dan and feel like Mad Men is really the only show I *coudn't* spec--I don't like procedurals, but I could do one if I had to. But there's so much going on in that show. It's the only show "out of my league" as it were.

Mark Thomas said...

Me, I'm writing specs -- Rescue Me, working on Burn Notice -- and I have an urgent question: If a person is looking to get work on a show produced (written/shot) in NYC, e.g., Life on Mars, e.g., because one actually lives in New York (I'm a writer for 4KidsTV in NYC), is it really the case that one would have to move to LA to get an agent so that one could get work close to where one USED to live before one moved to LA??? Sorry for the three question marks, but it's starting to sound like the wicked-step-mother of all catch-22's. I'd appreciate some perspective, or better yet, some knock-my-socks-off/I-could-kiss-your-generously-sized-feet advice. Thanks.

Mark Thomas said...

Thanks for your reply above. It was a balanced one, esp. for someone who was close to tearing her eyes out. Didn't mean to cheese you off, and again, sorry for the hyper-emphatics. It was that kind of a day for me too. (And actually, though LA is not drifting away literally, there is indeed a window that is closing for me in this regard.)

On another spec note, I wanted to get your opinion how very important it is to keep your spec absolutely up to date, if the people reading them aren't necessarily that familiar with any show but their own (which is why you don't try to impress them by writing a spec of their own show). I've written a season five opener for Rescue Me, and have started writing a season three opener for Burn Notice. Is there anything wrong with asking someone to think "what if" (i.e., what if things had gone this way and not that way after last season's finale) when he or she reads your spec? Thanks again.