The mysterious, booze-soaked advertising genius Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is still at the center of the second season of “Mad Men,” now out on DVD, but the writers have decided to spread the wealth around, providing beefed up roles for actresses Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, and January Jones.
Also receiving more screen time is Sal (Bryan Batt), the closeted art director who develops a bit of an office crush on Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton), the copywriter who surprises Sal with his keen understanding of modern art. The episode that details this small ripple in Sal’s life is so smartly written and directed, it will make your head spin.
There’s certainly no sophomore slump with the second set of 13 episodes, beautifully packaged in a four-DVD set. If anything, the addictive series has gotten better. The characters are richer and the situations have become more surprising. Don remains a philandering ladykiller but he also manages to be his firm’s moral conscience, wary of dropping old clients for flashy new ones and arguing against the firing of a fellow who likes his liquor a little too much.
Set in 1962, the New York-based show makes a compelling sidetrip to California, where we receive an introduction to the first Mrs. Don Draper (Melinda Page Hamilton). As silly as it sounds, there’s also an Utz potato chips commercial that resonates through a handful of the episodes in unexpected ways.
Created by “Sopranos” scribe Matthew Weiner and piloted by some of the same filmmakers who directed that mobbed-up classic, “Mad Men” is as good as TV gets. Season Three of the AMC hit show begins on August 19.
Official Site: http://www.amctv.com:80/originals/madmen/
[Amy Longsdorf’s entertainment coverage has appeared in “Blender,” “People,” the “Chicago Tribune,” the “Toronto Star,” and “Newsday.” She doesn’t want to imagine a world without Preston Sturges movies, Stax singles, and the music of Bob Marley.]