By Alan Pergament
What’s he smoking?
That was my reaction to the comments by an Associated Press writer about "Mad Men" that appeared in Saturday’s Buffalo News.
Of course, I'm joking. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and nowadays gets to express it via Facebook, Twitter or a personal blog like the one I used to write before returning to The Buffalo News.
But AP television writer Frazier Moore’s startled me reviewing the sixth season of the award-winning AMC series. Wrote Moore: "All in all, it's been a satisfying, illuminating season well served by the superb cast, including Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks and Jessica Pare.
Hardly. Admittedly, the last two episodes in which self-destructive ad genius Don Draper (Hamm) has been literally and figuratively been revealed to be a monster by two females who used to love him has brought the series back on track. But for most of the season, "Mad Men" has been maddeningly slow, confusing and disjointed.
The first several episodes of the season set inside the Madison Avenue world of advertising were so boring and at times confusing that I almost gave up on one of my Sunday night pleasures.
This has been the worst season of the series and not just because expectations were as high as some of the people living in the late 1960s.
Let me illuminate you on why I find it so disappointing.
There hasn't been enough of John Slattery and the wit of his character, Roger Sterling.
There has been too much of Pete Campbell (Kartheiser), the slimy ad account executive, and his mother.
The odd characters played by Harry Hamlin and James Wolk (who starred as a con man in one of best Fox pilots ever to fail quickly, "Lone Star") are annoyingly silly.
The writers felt the need to show more flashbacks suggesting that Don’s dreadful behavior with women was inspired by his childhood when he lived in a brothel with his mother. (They also could have cast a more handome young actor to play him as a teen. After all, he became Jon Hamm.)
Don is psychologically damaged. We get it. He can’t help himself. We get it.
I agree with Moore there hasn’t been enough about the process of advertising, which usually means selling a product that nobody needs. Like "Mad Men" for most of this season.
A season after Don was somewhat redeemed as a decent guy, he is back being the monster that advertising writer Peggy Olson (Moss) called him last week and his daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka) witnessed the week earlier in the season’s best episode.
Perhaps because of the recent death of James Gandolfini, I’ve been reminded how much Don is like Tony Soprano. He repeatedly cheats on his wives, treats women like objects, can be unscrupulous running his advertising business and loves his children.
The only thing he doesn't do like Tony is kill, although he does kill careers and his firing of financial man Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) last season led to the Brit’s suicide. (I really miss Lane by the way).
I suppose I'm not the only one to see the similarities of the two series or to note that "Mad Men"creator Matthew Weiner also was a writer on "The Sopranos."
People are probably expecting something big to happen in tonight’s season finale.
"The Sopranos" and other cable shows are known to make their semifinal episodes more compelling than the finale.
So I'm not expecting a big finish. To have such expectations might only lead to more disappointment tonight.