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Thursday, May 5, 2016

'Mad Men' remains at the top of the TV world

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jon Hamm's portrayal of Don Draper makes him one of the most compelling characters on television.
(Courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
If season three of the hit AMC series "Mad Men" is any indication, it's going to be around for a long, long time. In the third season, the series continues to grow by leaps and bounds and has every fan of the show anxiously awaiting the season four premiere.

Season three offered a lot for fans. It delved more into the rocky relationship between Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty (January Jones) Draper; it explored the importance of the civil rights movement and continued to deliver a weekly show that is mesmerizing. All in all, this is perhaps the series at its finest.

My only complaint with the new DVD set is the packaging. Season one came in a limited edition Zippo lighter-style packaging, which was amazing. Season two came in a box that looked like the packaging of a pristine white button up dress shirt -- not to shabby.

Season three features a simple whiskey tumbler and that's it. It slips out to reveal and equally simple interior that features the four disks and a 'Barbie' concept drawing. While I love the series and the first two incarnations of the box set, this one didn't blow me away. I know there's only so much you can do, but it just seemed to be a little bit of a letdown.

The discs features commentaries for all 13 episodes with series creator Matthew Weiner and members of the cast and crew. There's also the "Clearing the Air: The History of Cigarette Advertising" featurette that explores the relationship between tobacco companies and advertising. "We Shall Overcome: The March on Washington" is another noteworthy addition to the set, featuring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legendary "I Have a Dream" speech.

The two extra goodies that I enjoyed the most were "Mad Men Illustrated" and a two-part documentary about civil rights activist Medgar Evers titled "Medgar Evers: And Unsung Hero". While "Mad Men Illustrated" is a light, fluffy featurette, the documentary about Evers is not.

The two-part bio of Evers sheds light on the civil rights activist who was shot and killed in his driveway on June 12, 1963. The reason I liked it so much was the fact that nothing was sugarcoated. You'll feel the range of emotions from inspired to saddened to enraged. It has some audio issues with some interviews, but its power is unmistakable.

The show is a winner, but what makes the series outstanding is Hamm as Don Draper. I'll go toe-to-toe with anyone who can show me a better character on television today. It's one of the most complete portrayals of a man I think I've ever seen. There is so much we see as an audience, but what makes everything tick is what is going on underneath it all.

Final Cut: Season three of Mad Men is another must own. This is one of the best shows in the history of television. And it's lead character, Don Draper, when all is said and done, will be regarded as one of the best characters ever. You might not like the guy, but you can't take your eyes off him.

5 out of 5 stars

Mad Men: Season Three (Four-disc set)

Starring: Jon Hamm, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, Elizabeth Moss, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Michael Gladis

Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate Entertainment

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