The Silence of the Mad Men
If you’re thinking about buying Season Six of Mad Men on DVD or Blu-Ray, and haven’t made your purchase, let my mistake weigh into your decision. I ordered my copy from Amazon without checking the bonus features, simply assuming that there would be commentary from producer Matthew Weiner, and others from the show, from both behind and in front of the cameras, because that had been the case on the DVDs for all five of the show's previous seasons. And considering how chaotic this season has been, separate and apart from this past year being set in the chaos and horror of America in 1968, I was definitely looking forward to hearing what Weiner and others on the show were thinking with some of their creative choices.
As you may have surmised by now, no such luck. This is the first season of Mad Men to be issued on disc with no commentary whatsoever, with the exception of a couple of meager bonus features. A disc review site called We Got This Covered adds:
AMC and Lionsgate, in this week’s Blu-Ray release of the show’s sixth season, seem to have inexplicably given in to the diminishing levels of hype. Past Mad Men Blu-Ray and DVD releases were events, arriving with creative packaging (remember the cigarette-lighter case from Season One?), packed to the gills with extras (including one or more audio commentaries per episode), and delivering some of the very best audio and visual presentations available on the Blu-Ray format, for television or for film. Season Six, on the other hand, lands on Blu-Ray with an abject whimper, maintaining the same level of A/V perfection, but without any of the fantastic extra content that previously made these home video packages such an enticing proposition. There are no audio commentaries whatsoever. Nowhere on the set can viewers hear from a single member of the cast, nor from creator Matthew Weiner, nor from any of the show’s other writers and directors. At most, there is a conversation with the Production Designers and Art Directors, but that piece happens to be shockingly poorly produced.
In short, where Mad Men itself keeps upping its creative game year in and year out, AMC and Lionsgate have dumped it on to Blu-Ray with only a modicum of effort. As a result, this is the first time a Mad Men season has not been an immediate must-buy on home video, not because of the quality of the show itself, but because AMC and Lionsgate have chosen to do wrong by the fans.
Perhaps AMC and Lionsgate can make amends by issuing free downloadable commentaries, Rifftrax-style, to accompany the discs. As the above review notes, the picture quality is excellent, arguably sharper than the shows looked when aired on AMC HD on DirecTV. But given that they’ll likely be issued in streaming format on Netflix in a couple of months, I definitely feel cheated buying these discs without commentary tracks. If you were looking forward to hearing these as well, buyer beware.