Mad Men, Season One

The Skinny:

The exuberant idealism of the early '60s, viewed through the prism of an advertising industry that would help crush it over the following four decades. Boardroom benders, delightfully outdated gender roles, and the first signs of domestic disillusionment get equal airtime in corporate America's adolescent years.

Reminded Us Of…

The faithful period re-creation of Crime Story; the comical corporate kowtowing of Bewitched.

The Good:

With the show's authentic accounts of real ad campaigns, college advertising majors (kill yourselves, by the way) can skip your prereqs. Not simply chauvinists chasing secretaries round an office, Mad Men chronicles how advertising changed America’s perception of itself. And, also, chauvinists chasing secretaries round an office.

The Bad:

Pacing can be as slow as a Dodge Dart, and the show takes itself surprisingly seriously—maybe too much so. The producers are rightfully careful not to rely on generational jokes and references the way That '70s Show does, but they could still use a little more comic relief; it's the early '60s, not mid-2008.

Best Extra:

"Establishing Mad Men," a three-part exploration of the series' production.