Mad Men Complete Collection Blu-ray Review
What do you get the man (or woman) who has everything?
Now that the dust has settled and Man Men has finally come to an end, it's possible to fully appreciate this award-winning TV series.Set in the 60s, Mad Men was full of all of the staples of that era: heavy uninhibited smoking and drinking, prolific sexism, commonplace male infidelity, homophobia and racism. It cleverly counterpoints the 60s situation with modern sensibilities, whilst key historical events play out in the background. These events from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the JFK assassination, from the civil rights movement to the Vietnam War, all influenced the way that society behaved and this was filtered through the adverts created by the men of Madison Avenue. This allows the series' writers to hold up a mirror to the dark soul of 1960s America, reflecting both the hope and the despair of that remarkable decade. Men charm and woo, unquestionably provide well for their wives, but also remain unforgivably sexist and perpetually unfaithful. Women are often insatiably dissatisfied and repressed, yet thrive off the pampered, lavish existence of 'being married to a rich guy'.It is interesting to see how far we have come as a society, in terms of both the good and the bad. It may have been worth any cost to attain equal rights for women, and ostracise racists and homophobes, but that does not mean that we can pretend that there was no cost. Decency and decorum have gone right out of the window, along with manners and, perhaps most importantly, respect. And it's not as if sexism, racism and homophobia have disappeared, they are now merely not as overt as before. At the heart of the series is Don Draper, played by John Hamm, who provides a degree of mystery, whilst surrounded by an excellent cast of ensemble players who all totally inhabit their roles. Intelligent, smart, witty and gorgeously produced, Mad Men is the perfect example of just how good television is these day. So if you haven't seen it yet, take a trip back to the 1960s. Just remember, the past is another country, they do things differently there...
Picture QualityThe Complete Collection includes all 92 episodes of Mad Men on Blu-ray in their correct 1.78:1 broadcast aspect ratio and encoded in 1080p/24 Full HD using the AVC codec and locked with Region B coding. The discs themselves are the same as those already released as individual sets but that's no bad thing as the previous releases of all seven seasons of Mad Men boasted superb video transfers. The series was shot on 35mm film for the first four seasons, which is unusual these days but helped give those episodes a sense of period and results in some absolutely gorgeous transfers on Blu-ray. From season five onwards the series was shot digitally on the Arri Alexa but still managed to retain that lovely film-like quality.
Whether the episode was shot on 35mm film or digitally on the Arri Alexa, they all look gorgeous.
The level of detail is remarkable, with the weave of the immaculately tailored suits and every print on the dresses being perfectly rendered. Facial details on the impossibly well manicured and gorgeous cast is perfect and every nuance of the obsessively reproduced sixties environment is there to see. This was a series where the cast, the clothes and the sets were as important as the scripts, these were advertising executives after all, and the Blu-rays fully respect those stylistic choices. Aside from the detail on display, the colours are natural, the blacks deep and the images free of any crush or clipping. The digital transfers are also beautifully handled, avoiding any artefacts, edge enhancement or banding to deliver every gorgeously shot episode and recreate the 1960s perfectly.
Sound QualityThe Blu-ray releases of Mad Men come with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel lossless soundtrack and whilst the series doesn't have the kind of audio pyrotechnics found on Game of Thrones, the sound design still perfectly matches what is on screen. This is a series that is all about what people say, or don't say, and thus dialogue is clear and centred at all times. However around that is a nicely layered sound design that is intended to create atmosphere rather than draw attention to itself.
The soundtrack isn't as showy as some but it does what it was designed to do and draws you into the world of the Mad Men.
As a result the sound effects are beautifully layered into the mix, from the clink of ice in whiskey glasses to the subtle burning of cigarettes as the cast constantly take a drag. The chatter of crowd noises in bars, the buzz of the office and the traffic in the street create a real sense of environment and ambience. There's little room for bass extension in a soundtrack like this but music is well rendered and overall the soundtrack does exactly what is was designed to do - support the story and draw you into the world of the Mad Men.
ExtrasThe Mad Men Complete Collection is a limited edition set that comes in a stylish cardboard slip case that reflects the credits of the series itself. Inside you'll find a beautiful hard back 20-page book with all 23 Blu-rays in special slots along the tops of the pages. The first 22 Blu-rays cover the seven seasons of Mad Men, with all 92 episodes. The extra Blu-ray includes over three hours of additional bonus material that is exclusive to this set, along with a number of collectible materials especially designed to immerse you in the world of Mad Men:
16-Page episode guide
Reproduction of Don Draper’s ‘Why I’m Quitting Tobacco’ letter
Letter announcing Sterling Cooper & Partners new logo
Sterling Cooper, Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce and Sterling Cooper & Partners headed notepaper
Six character art cards
Photo Montage art card
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce office plan
You can see exactly what's inside the box set in this video:
This is a comprehensive set, with so many extras it will take you just as long to get through them as it will to watch the entire series.
Season One - Audio Commentaries, Advertising the American Dream, Scoring Mad Men, Mad Men Music Sampler, Pictures of Elegance, Establishing Mad Men and Mad Men Season Two Preview.
Season Two - Audio Commentaries, Mad Men Season Two Music Sampler, Birth of an Independent Woman Part 1, Birth of an Independent Woman Part 2, An Era of Style and Time Capsule - Historical Events of the 1960s.
Season Three - Audio Commentaries, Mad Men Illustrated, Clearing the Air: The History of Cigarette Advertising, Flashback 1963, Medgar Evers: An Unsung Hero Part 1, Medgar Evers: An Unsung Hero Part 2 and We Shall Overcome: The March on Washington.
Season Four - Audio Commentaries, Marketing the Mustang: An American Icon, Divorce: Circa 1960 Part 1, Divorce: Circa 1960 Part 2, How to Succeed in Business Draper Style and 1964 Presidential Campaign.
Season Five - Audio Commentary, Mad Men Say the Darndest Things, What Shall I Love If Not the Enigma?, The Party of the Century, Scoring Mad Men: Themes of Season Five, Scoring Mad Men: Inside a Session and The Uniform Time Act of 1966.
Season Six - Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out and Recreating an Era.
The Final Season Part 1 - Audio Commentaries, Technology: 1969, Gay Rights, The Best Things in Life Are Free, Gay Power, Trial of the Chicago Eight Part 1 and Trial of the Chicago Eight Part 2.
The Final Season Part 2 - Audio Commentaries, Generation Boom: Baby Boomers, Earth Day 1970, Unmarried Professional Woman, Laurel Canyon and Advertising Timeline.
Bonus Disc - One to One with Matthew Weiner, Men of Sterling Cooper & Partners, Main Cast Wrap Up, Casting Mad Men, Cast Faves, Janie Bryant: Design of a Decade, Mad Men Advertising Archives and Historical Timeline.
Blu-ray VerdictWith 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and two BAFTAs to the series’ name, and having been cited as one of the top ten television shows of all time by the Writers Guild of America, there’s no doubt as to the legacy Mad Men leaves behind. The act of watching every single episode remains a rewarding experience and, even after the mystery of Don Draper's identity has been revealed, the series continues to draw you in with its multiple story lines, witty dialogue and remarkable attention to detail. If you haven't seen Mad Men then you owe it to yourself to catch up on all seven seasons and if you've already watched the series, it will certainly reward a second viewing.
This award-winning show was pure class from start to finish and if you haven't seen it yet, now's your chance.
The Mad Men Complete Collection includes all 92 episodes of the series on 22 Blu-rays with wonderful picture and sound. The show always looked gorgeous and the transfers capture that perfectly, whilst the lossless soundtrack ensures you don't miss a single word of that fantastic dialogue. The discs included in the set are taken from the previous Blu-ray releases that covered each season, so not only do they retain the same wonderful picture and audio but also all the extras, of which there are a lot. However the Complete Collection also comes with a bonus Blu ray that includes over three hours of additional extras. The discs are housed in a beautiful hardback book that itself is inside a cardboard slip case. The design is as stylish and tasteful as you'd expect from the series itself, with a number of additional collectible materials included such as a 16-page episode guide, art cards, floor plans and headed notepaper.
The Mad Men Complete Collection isn't cheap at £139.99 but it's a limited edition which will undoubtedly make it collectible. If you're a fan of the series you probably already have all seven seasons on disc but if not, this collection is certainly a great place to start. However if you've already seen Mad Men, then at least now you know what to buy the man (or woman) who has everything this Christmas.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £139.99
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