Mad Men: Season One - DVD review
Packaging: I raved about the unique packaging for this set when I first heard about it a few months ago. But I have to say the package is better in theory and better in pictures than it is in the flesh. Sure, the cigarette-lighter shaped set looks neat when opened up (and even better when it's closed and standing on your coffee table - looks like a real Zippo), but there are two problems. One, shouldn't the DVDs be more yellow than red, to simulate the flame? And two, the DVDs sit one behind each other, with really no protection, so when you close the lid, you have to be really careful or you'll hit and scrape the DVDs. Still, it's pretty neat.
The episode guide/special offer ads that come with the set are well done. They sit behind the DVDs and are shaped like the curve of the DVDs so you can't see them. It's great that the episode guides also tell you what special features are on what disc (it's amazing how many sets don't do this), though it would have been good to see which actor/crew member talks on which episode (though the on-screen menu does include this info, of course).
Audio/Video: Nice and crisp on both (the pic is widescreen, though the type that takes up the whole screen, if I understand it correctly), and there is closed-captioning available too.
Extras: Every single episode of the show gets a commentary from various stars and crew members, including creator Matthew Weiner and stars Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Rosemarie DeWitt, and others. They're actually pretty interesting, especially when Hamm and Slattery get together. Two guys that are obviously good friends and like to play jokes, be blunt, and get really colorful in their descriptions of what went on behind the scenes.
As for features, there are several. One is called "Establishing Mad Men" and is a fascinating look at how they put the show together (this is a must-see for fans of the show). "The Desire of the American Dream" looks at advertising in the late 50s/60s;" "Scoring Mad Men" looks at how David Carbonara comes up with the music for the show; "Pictures of Elegance" looks at the wardrobe and makeup; and "Mad Men Music Sampler" previews the Mad Men CD (out yesterday), which includes music from Carbonara, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, Aceyalone/RJD2 (title theme) and more.
The verdict? An excellent set. I can't wait to see what kind of packaging/extras they have for the second season. Maybe something shaped like a martini glass? (Note: the series is also available in Blu-ray.)
(By the way, stay tuned next month for a really cool giveaway we're doing for Mad Men!)