September 2008  
Mad Men is a Better Show than The Sopranos

I know there is no reason to trust my judgement in predicting TV shows after my last two blunders. But this time is different, and on the basis of a season and a half of episodes, I have to say: Mad Men is better than The Sopranos in all the ways that it counts. Mad Men isn't as groundbreaking as Lost or as richly complex as The Wire, but neither was The Sopranos, and that show got oodles of accolades. Mad Men, however, is the superior show.

Everyone seems to forget that The Sopranos was a wildly uneven show in tone, character development, and plot. Lots of plot happened that seemed disconnected to reality--even the reality set up by the show itself. Whole plotlines and characters were started and dropped, never to be seen again. Some of the character development made little sense and seemed gimmicky, like AJ's suicide attempt or Uncle Junior's dementia. You'd have a wacky episode with Christopher and Paulie getting stuck in the woods, then another with the graphic rape of Dr. Melfi. The show's apologists (and there are legions) will say, well, that's how life is. But this is a scripted drama, not life. I want storytelling and narrative arcs that lead somewhere, not just to a final blackout.

Compare this to Mad Men. Mad Men, like another great show Deadwood, has a consistent tone and is pitch perfect. Characters are well-drawn and nuanced. Plots lead to revelations: both moving the story forward and by revealing character. And, let's not forget, doing so partially in the space/difference between the era of the 1960s to our own. This is no easy feat. If you don't think this can be done badly, you didn't see Swingtown.

The Sopranos had to use violence for shock and punctuation. Mad Men uses words. Tension in Mad Men comes from character, not necessarily situation.

The Sopranos, at its heart, was a family soap opera. It didn't really care overmuch about how Tony and Crew worked, except in the broadest way. Which is why a lot of the intrigue with the other Families felt muddled and/or flat. Mad Men though is a workplace drama, like Hill Street Blues or Homicide: Life on the Street. It reveals character by how people behave doing their work. Which, in a cruder way, The Sopranos did as well, but the extremeness of the situation (whacking people) warping the situation so that all subtly was rubbed out.

Mad Men cares about the context the drama lives in. The characters aren't modern day types dropped into spiffy suits. We can see how their characters are shaped by the time and visa versa. We barely even knew what decade it was with The Sopranos, aside from some 9/11 references.

In any case, Mad Men now deserves your attention and your post-Sopranos praise.

Originally posted on Monday, September 29, 2008 | Link | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)


Creating Kicker Studio

If this blog has been absurdly quiet lately, it is because I have a good reason. Over the last several weeks, I resigned my position at Adaptive Path and, with some colleagues, created Kicker Studio, a new design consultancy focused on products, not the web. We're combining visual, industrial, and interaction design to make products that are holistic from the ground up. It's something I've wanted to do for a few years now.

Seldom in my life have I ever felt more like my ENTJ personality type ("The Fieldmarshall") as have these last few weeks, to not only sell people on the vision for the company, but simply to marshall the troops to do all the myriad of tasks that are required to set up a small business. It is amazing how millions of people are able to do it. Between the accounting and the legal and dealing with all the rest, the set-up is amazingly tricky to navigate.

But anyway, most of my professional writing is over there now, on the Kick It! blog. Come join us, won't you? (Send clients.)

Originally posted on Sunday, September 21, 2008 | Link | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)



« July 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
  O Danny Boy is About Me, Dan Saffer, and has my Portfolio, Resumé, Blog, and some Extras. It also has the blog I kept of my graduate studies and ways to Contact Me.  
  Blog RSS Feeds
Blog Excerpts
Full Entries
Design Entries Only
Atom Feed