Sunday, April 3, 2011

AMC whores out Mad Men

If there was a short list of the best television in the past decade, Mad Men would find itself on the top of the list. Never mind the three straight Emmys and the heaps of praise. Never mind the ratings (not as good as Walking Dead but good nonetheless) or Christina Hendrick's boobs. Watching it, it's an amazingly crafted show with water cooler discussion topics abound.

Boobs help though.

Mad Men is the critical darling of cable. It's the crowing jewel of AMC's lineup and the show that single handedly validated cable television. Shows like the West Wing have already won countless Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, but the fact that Mad Men has owned that award for the three past years is a testament to its quality. Even a relatively weak third season didn't stop it from winning the award. Yes, Tony Shalhoub and Monk have won plenty of awards for cable, but Monk is a comedy. It's not hard to beat out a sitcom with pathos. Drama is a much tougher category.

Monk went downhill when Sharona left anyway (and they changed the theme song)

In a perfect world, AMC would see their golden calf and leave it alone. In a perfect world they would allow Matthew Weiner (hehe, wiener) as much artistic freedom he wanted, creating for cable what HBO created with The Sopranos (as much as I want to make a Wire reference here, it didn't nearly have the following that Sopranos had). Instead AMC is now selling Mad Men out and ruining the reputation that they finally created with their original television.


AMC tried to strong arm Weiner into cutting down show time to create more commercials and allow more product placement. It's weird that a show about advertising men has gone this long without epic amounts of product placement, but that restraint such as that has helped make Mad Men what it is today. AMC should be trying to retain the artistic integrity of its first original show of merit. Back when Mad Men first premiered it was a gamble. AMC was known as the trashier TCM. Yet somehow, largely due to the Mad Men's quality, the channel has carved its own niche into television and has afforded itself the opportunity to make some really exciting and daring shows. While Rubicon didn't pay off, as interesting as it was, Walking Dead quickly became one of the most watched shows on television. And Bryan Cranston himself said that Mad Men was the reason he signed up with AMC for Breaking Bad. Cranston has since won three straight Emmys for Best Actor, awards that he totally deserves.

Walter White is more interesting than Dexter Morgan, sorry Michael C. Hall fans.

It was bad enough that AMC wedged wannabe Mad Men ads in between commercial breaks last season. Asinine commercials where two Don Draper-esque men talk about products. These commercials seemed nothing more than parodies, doing more to detract from the show than peddle shampoo. Really, these lame commercials show just what Mad Men would be like if it ended up on a network where it would be controlled by studios instead of capable showrunners such as Weiner.


My griping about cutting two minutes of show may seem unnecessary, but consider the fact that AMC was negotiating for Weiner to cut down the cast member by two every new season. Such demands are not only ridiculous, but they are insulting to the show. Mad Men is an ensemble, character driven show. To demand such a condition is completely out of bounds. Luckily, after negotiations, the cast is now safe from being cut down. But to even demand such a thing shows that AMC does not respect the show that put them on the map and made them known for something other than Steven Seagal marathons.

Is it bad I actually wanted to see Tommy Lee Jones succeed in Under Siege?

Like Breaking Bad, the next season of Mad Men won't air anytime soon. The wait may be a little excruciating for some fans but hopefully by the end of it, Mad Men will have another amazing season. Some people claim that the show is boring but those people don't see past the old fashion wardrobes and ever-present alcohol. Mad Men is about America and the twentieth century through the ingenious perspective of an advertising agency. Who better to lead the audience through the ever changing culture of the 60s than the people who helped create, market, package and sell that image? In the end this whole negotiation thing might just be a ruse. AMC, no longer having to rely on Mad Men for ratings decides to put the show in it's place and assert itself contractually. Either way, Mad Men should be respected by everyone, including the channel that creates it.

No comments:

Post a Comment