It might be six months later, but Manhattan advertising agency Sterling Cooper is still feeling the effects of their merger with British firm PPL. As both the company and the country as a whole are going through changes, brilliant ad exec Don Draper (Hamm) sees his marriage and seemingly-perfect life begin to crumble as dark secrets come back to haunt him…
Still one of the most intelligent, good-looking and downright mesmerising shows on the box, the third season of Matthew Weiner’s classy, chain-smoking period drama is every inch as terrific as the first two. Okay, so the glacial pace remains a stumbling block for impatient viewers, but Mad Men is the kind of series which requires the viewer to attune themselves to its spellbinding slow-burn style. While it always takes a few episodes to get a handle on all the intricately-detailed arcs, again we’re rewarded with some poignant, consistently compelling television, while the stylish production design, clever use of symbolism and cool advertising campaigns (love Don’s pitch to Hilton) are as sublime as ever.
Debatably, there’s no real throughline in season three, yet a recurring trend sees a few carefully-constructed facades starting to melt away. Of course, chief among these is Don’s past finally being revealed to Betty (The Gypsy And The Hobo is arguably the show’s most important instalment to date as he comes clean), but other ‘fakes’ are outed too (see the beautiful moment where Sal’s wife realises her husband might be gay). Again, each character enjoys interesting plot threads of their own, while ongoing arcs involving Betty’s mentally-deteriorating father Gene (Ryan Cutrona) and Don’s new working relationship with famous hotel magnate Conrad Hilton (Chelcie Ross) eventually prove rather involving.
Neatly knitting historical occurrences to events at Sterling Cooper once more, season three features Martin Luther King’s iconic speech and JFK’s tragic assassination, as well as one of the most outrageous lawnmower moments you’re likely to see on screen (who saw that coming on Mad Men?). John Hamm and the entire cast are marvellous from top to bottom (John Slattery is huge fun to watch as the unflappable Roger Sterling), but newcomer Jared Harris (yes, Richard’s son) deserves special mention as bean-counting financial officer Lane Pryce. And, tying it all up nicely is a compelling finale which intriguingly shakes things up for season four. Tremendous stuff.
Still one of the most intelligent, good-looking and downright mesmerising shows on the box, the third season of Matthew Weiner’s classy, chain-smoking period drama is every inch as terrific as the first two.