Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'd Like To Make A Speech...

The speech that copywriter Don Draper makes in the final episode of series one of Mad Men, is the best screen monologue I've heard since the rabbi's speech in the Charlie Kaufman film 'Synecdoche, New York'. Don pitches an idea for a Kodak slide projector ad and it turns into a speech about nostalgia, how we long for the past and the bittersweet pain we feel when we do. The performances are brilliant, Jon Hamm as Don Draper, the ultimate conflicted man, takes you to the edge of the abyss and you feel it's chilling emptiness but you can't look away. The writer and series creator, Matthew Weiner, is obviously a huge talent, but it's not just the writing and the performances, it's also the direction and the design, it all comes together to give you more than you used to get from television. It's not my favourite show ever (I'm still furious at Deadwood for not going to another series) but it's up there with the best of them. 

This is the era of series television, it's better than it's ever been, better than I ever thought the medium could be, and I hope it stays that way so I never have to be nostalgic for it. Mad Men is set in the time when television was the new kid on the block, now it has come of age and it wants to buy you a martini and look up your dress. In the spirit of speechmaking, I'd like to make a toast to great writing, now coming to you on television, and men wearing 50's suits. 

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