Mad Men: Season Four (Lionsgate)

Sure, Mad Men may just be a glorified soap opera, but it’s a darn compelling one. Season Four has just finished its run on New Zealand television and the 3-disc DVD set is now available in stores.

This season finds Don Draper and his cohorts in 1965 and it’s a much different world than when they started out four years ago. Don is divorced and his new agency is struggling to stay afloat. We also see that Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, is not flawless. In the first episode he manages to bungle a newspaper interview profiling him. Fortunately, he has just helped create an award-winning ad.  So creatively, he’s still at his peak, but he needs work on promoting himself and his new company.  It is a bit disconcerting to see Don lose control from time to time and to make choices that he might not have earlier in the series. But then, that’s one of the things that makes Mad Men such fun to watch, these characters are capable of change and of surprising us.

Having divorced Betty (January Jones) in the previous season, Don seems to be adrift personally. He still gets plenty of attention from the ladies, but without the anchor of a family, he needs to redefine himself. Much of Season Four is spent on Don’s personal battles.

Of course, there is plenty more.  Don and Betty’s daughter, Sally, is having trouble dealing with the split which leads to tension between her and her mother.  Peggy is gaining more confidence and power within the company as is Pete, whose relationship with Don changes as the season progresses. The older members of the firm seem even to be floundering a bit in the new environment.

All these issues come to a head in the season finale which is satisfying and will leave you wanting more. Unfortunately Season Five is delayed and won’t air until some time next year.

The DVD set comes with audio commentary on five of the thirteen episode and they feature Matthew Weiner, the series creator, director and writer, along with various cast members including Hamm and redheaded bombshell Christina Hendricks.

Also included are two featurettes to put the viewer into the mid-60s. One is “Marketing The Mustang: An American Icon”, the other is on the 1964 Presidential Campaign.

Marty Duda