Mad Men - Season Six

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday November 6, 2013

The sixth season of the critically adored, commercially successful AMC drama "Mad Men" brings us to 1968 -- a nadir of chaos in a time of social upheaval. The shockwaves of the year's dramatic events touch the lives of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), his family, and his colleagues in much the same way today's national controversies and tragedies affect most of us -- not directly, but in countless small ways, as the culture around us is subtly (and sometimes not so subtlety) re-shaped.

More immediate are the changes that result from the choices each character makes and the ways their crossing paths and colliding orbits send them down new paths... or, in one key instance, keep them in place. Among the season's notable developments: Don embarks on an affair with a neighbor that hooks him harder than he expects; Roger (John Slattery) has a life-changing dalliance with LSD; Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) separates from his wife and deals with his mother's worsening symptoms of dementia; Megan (Jessica Paré) seeks a balance between her acting career and her family life; and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) finds her way back to the fold, thanks to a game-changing merger.

The Season Six Blu-ray set offers three intriguing special features, distributed equally among the set's three discs. Disc One offers "Summer of Love (Interactive Gallery)," a virtual bulletin board of photos and memorabilia that includes news clips and other footage from the time covering topics such as "Art," "Hippie Style," "Drugs," "Groovy Man," "Love in Detroit," "The Long Hot Summer," "Be-In," "Music Festival," "Death of A Hippie," and the year itself, "1968."

Disc Two includes a documentary about Timothy Leary titled "Turn On. Tune In. Drop Out." This featurette examines the origins of Leary's pop status as a sort of drug guru, which started with serious scientific inquiry and then turned into a social movement with Leary -- often misunderstood -- at its center. (So controversial is the drug culture of the 1960s and Leary himself that this featurette comes complete with a pretty thorough disclaimer: No one at Lionsgate, AMC, the show, their dry-cleaners, or the guys who sweep their streets advocates, in any way, shape, or form, the use of any or all drugs, period, ever, amen.)

Disc Three includes a behind-the-scenes featurette titled "Recreating An Era," which features four of the crew's unsung heroes and focuses on the sets they create and decorate and the props they acquire and manage. The work that happens around fabricating and dressing the sets is monumental, and carried out under extreme time constraints. The sound on this featurette is poor, and it's sprinkled with scenes from the show that almost seem randomly chosen, but the skill and dedication of the people who re-create the period for us on a weekly basis is illuminated in an educational and engaging way.

"Mad Men" looks better than ever on Blu-ray (and for a show with this kind of meticulous production and this much period style, that's saying something). Season Six is as essential as any of the previous five seasons, so unless you're planning to hold out for an eventual Complete Series release, this is a good add to your library of quality television.

"Mad Men: Season 6"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.