Mad Men Review: The British Are Coming!

January 27, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

4MADMEN300MAD MEN: Wednesday 27th January, BBC4, 10pm ALERT ME

Gee, is this slick. Slick opening titles, slick hair, slick lines. Yes, pre-chav, the world was a pretty smooth place (well the sixties, anyway).

You also weren’t berated – unlike the poor chavs – for drinking and smoking at every available opportunity. Rather, it was encourged. Make mine a martini.

Set in the Sterling Cooper ad agency, this is far from US ad departments of the noughties. Rather than shouting out over-caffeinated nonsensicals in cartoon T-shirts, ‘eureka’ moments are discussed and discovered strategically in suits on aeroplanes and creatives are praised coolly with ‘That’s a great ad,’ delivered with the puff of a cigarette (a welcome change to The Persuasionists).

When it does all fly off the handle however, it makes for amusing viewing. When Burt, the head of accounts is made redundant, lines such as “Drop dead you limey vulture!” and “You Americans don’t know how to handle your emotions; you make me sick,” keep the audience grinning.

Boss Lane Pryce shows his Machiavellian streak when he reappoints two men for the same position. Peter tells his wife he is ‘already drunk’ upon hearing the news of his success. Something about a man in a suit with a slicked-backed barnet saying this makes it perfectly alright. If you ever thought drinking in the day was a bit wrong these madmen will show you the way. And without a hair out of place.

Meanwhile, ad creatives Don Draper and Salvatore Romano are invited to dinner by gamely air hostess, Shelly. Here it’s proven the producers hire actors based on how good they look – and more importantly how good they look smoking a cigarette. Granted, if you walked down Carnaby Street now like that you’d probably get arrested/cast in the next James Bond film, but watching Madmen you merely get drawn in.

Plus the irony of people smoking during a fire alarm almost makes you glad you live in a nanny state. Almost.

The episode is not without it’s raciness, either – whether it’s the beguiling air hostess or closeted Sal living out his fantasies. If you have one form of escapism this year, make it Madmen. Possibly the only form of passive smoking that’s good for your health (though spare yourself the hair gel – you’ll become the office Fonz and laughed at for going through a mid-life crisis… probably).