Stick a fork in Mad Men, season one is officially over for this viewer. To celebrate, I officially Mad Men-ed myself (if you hadn’t gathered it yet, the picture to the right is not actually me, but Enid from the film Ghost World). I’m alright with season one being over, mostly because I’m so looking forward to the next seasons I have to watch.
The first season, as a whole, was very enjoyable. I thought the first half was pretty slow starting, but by the middle and end of the season I was completely hooked. It’s hard to believe that HBO actually passed on this show – to be honest this show seems like it would be a better fit on HBO than AMC. But AMC lucked out and so have the dedicated viewers of the show.
One of the best qualities of Mad Men is that it’s incredibly rewarding to watch. The tiny moments of foreshadowing make the more dramatic plot twists a great pay-off for the viewer. In the beginning, I complained that the characters didn’t have many redeeming qualities and actually, they still don’t. But they are magnetically complicated and now that I know enough about their damaged histories, I care to find out what happens to them. The more I know about the characters the more I want to keep watching. Their lives seem risqué, even from the vantage point of 2008, when the first season aired. Despite the risqué subject matter, Mad Men manages to execute everything – unexpected pregnancies, office affairs, suicide, dark pasts, and homosexuals still in the closet with dignity, elegance, and class.
The first and following seasons of Mad Men have done well critically. Obviously, I don’t disagree. Some reviews, usually international such as the Mark Greif review in the London Review of Books, have criticized the show for “failing to do anything except congratulate the future” and called it an “unpleasant little entry in the genre of Now We Know Better.” I won’t say he’s dead wrong, but I will say he’s definitely failing to see the bigger picture. I will also say he could accuse me of the same thing. Really my biggest complaint is the lack of humor used in the show – of course it’s not comedy but Mad Men has a very sly, dark, and ironic sense of humor, and I would have enjoyed seeing them employ it more often.
I feel like I’ve tackled most of the major questions I wanted to answer about Mad Men, so in lieu of repeating what I’ve already said and making useless jokes, I would like to present the best hits of Couch Commando’s Mad Men blog posts from the first 2/3 of the show:
I’m very glad I went with Mad Men for this blog project. While it wasn’t far out of my viewing habits, who knows when I would have gotten around to watching it. And at least this time I had a place to gush about my favorite parts. I’ll definitely continue to watch the show. It’s always difficult to wrap things up, so instead of a lame attempt at summing up the whole season in one sentence, I’ll leave you with a video that does it better than I can (beware, NSFW):
Viewed in the afternoon, on the couch, with a friend.
So here we are. It’s finally come down to the very last episode of season one. Luckily, I don’t have to be sad since I’ve got two more seasons to catch up on, and this show isn’t going off the air any time soon. In this episode, Betty Draper is getting ready to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Don isn’t coming (mostly because he doesn’t want to) but he tells Betty that he can’t with his work load at the office. The next day Betty’s friend Francine is waiting for her to get home in a panic – she’s found out that her husband is cheating on her by looking at the phone bill. After Francine leaves, still distraught, Betty grabs the family’s phone bill.
Later at the therapist’s office, Betty Draper opens up a can of worms when she off handedly says,
Still, I can’t help but think that I’d be happy if my husband was faithful to me.
Woah, black Betty (Bam-ba-lam?). It’s clear that Betty is completely aware of her husband’s extracurricular activities.
At the office, Peggy Olson is running auditions for a radio spot. Impressively, she takes charge and even ends up firing a woman she hires when she can’t do the job to her satisfaction. Draper is working on a new campaign for Kodak and after looking at the box full of pictures from his brother, he calls him at his hotel only to have the clerk tell him his brother committed suicide.
Back to Peggy, she’s climbing the corporate ladder. Above her on the ladder is Pete Campbell, who drags in a new account for Clearasil. Draper thinks Olson will be perfect for it but Campbell says she’s just a secretary and not good enough for the account. In response, Draper calls in Peggy and immediately makes her a junior copy writer. She gets to share an office with another writer but before she can enjoy it, she starts feeling ill. Before you know it, she’s at the hospital where she goes into labor with Pete Campbell’s devil spawn. Yeah, that’s right ladies. That Seventeen magazine article about being pregnant for nine months without knowing it is true. You know, it’s true like that time George Bush told you that abortion would give you breast cancer? Is my sarcasm apparent?
Later a nurse comes into Olson’s room with the spawn and asks if she wants to feed it, but Olson just turns away without a word. The show ends with Draper returning home to an empty house. He sits on the stairs, depressed, and hold his head. The end of the show isn’t quite a cliffhanger, but I’ll definitely be watching the next two seasons to find out what happens.
After all that drama, I’d like to segue way to a more uplifting subject. Since I started watching the show, and even at the beginning when I wasn’t hooked, the one reason I would have kept watching is the costuming. The period costuming of Mad Men is amazing and for anyone who enjoys vintage clothing, a great show to be watching. I really enjoy vintage clothing and I worked in a costume shop while I was doing regional theater in the south. Two different productions of Bye Bye Birdie (a musical produced in 1960) later, and I think I’m pretty well steeped in 1960’s fashion.
Janie Bryant is the costume designer for the show, and she’s done an amazing job. A few posts ago I wrote about the color palette of the show – Bryant is largely responsible for the it. The show’s time period is great for costuming because it’s really a time when people weren’t afraid of dressing. There is so much color, texture, amazing patterns, and great design details to the clothing. Personally, I think this period is defined by the details. The perfectly executed kick pleat at the back of a skirt, the charming little bows and buttons, hidden pockets set perfectly into inseams and pin tucks, generous seam allowances, satin linings, and the absolutely masterful construction of clothing.
Joan Holloway and Peggy Olson are a great example of how transitional this time period was in silhouette. Holloway’s dress is more 60’s – the form-fitting dress with an attached scarf and a kick pleat in the front is killing me in the best way. Her fashion forward style also fits her character perfectly – the office manager sleeping with a partner wouldn’t be caught dead in anything less femme fatale. Olson’s dress is more 50’s – the wide circle skirt is an older, more conservative style which compliments her goody two shoes attitude. Bryant does an incredible job of matching the character with the right clothes.
I have to admit, watching Mad Men has even affected my own clothing choices. When I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year, I went vintage shopping with a friend who just happens to be a costume designer and fellow Man Men viewer. After our day on Magazine Street, we both ended up going home with 1960’s era wiggle dresses a la Joan Holloway. Now if I could only find a matching Don Draper to go with the dress, I’d be set.
Viewed late at night, on the proverbial couch, with friends.
This episode of Mad Men takes place during the Nixon and Kennedy election. The office gathers around the TV with copious amounts of alcohol to watch the action. As the numbers get closer and the crowd gets drunker, one of the ad guys, Ken, chases down Allison, a secretary, as his friends shout out colors. He tackles her to the floor and lifts her skirt to find out what color her underwear are – blue. Everyone laughs and the viewer is relieved that Gloria Steinem exists.
Earlier that day, Pete Campbell discovers that Draper is considering hiring another ad guy for a job that Campbell wants. Instead of handling it with dignity, he goes the high school route and attempts to blackmail Draper with the information he’s found in the box he stole in the last episode. Draper runs off to Rachel Menken asking her to run away with him to LA, but she soon realizes he doesn’t want to run away with her – he just wants to run away. Draper returns to the office, calls Campbell’s bluff, and hires the other guy. When Campbell goes to the big cheese to tell him that Draper’s real name is Dick Whitman, Cooper says he doesn’t care. In a flashback, we learn how Draper became the infamous Don Draper. He basically got sent to a two man camp and when the other man died in an accident, Draper stole his dog tags.
This episode gives us a lot of background on Don Draper. When he was at his two man post, the two men come under attack. When it’s over they both light cigarettes and his superior points at some liquid at Don’s feet, when Don accidentally drops his cigarette, they realize it was gasoline. The explosion kills the real Don Draper and the new Don Draper gets sent back home, new identity and all. This brings up a lot of questions about Draper: Is he a coward? Or was it survival? Why did he abandon his (now dead) brother like that? And what kind of butter fingers does he have to go around dropping his cigarette in gasoline? Still, this episode might be the most character development of Draper I’ve seen all season.
Also in this episode, Peggy Olson is starting to get on my nerves. While she’s learning to be a go-getter and I thoroughly approve of that, she can also be a whiny goody two shoes. Olson is so too pure to be pink it hurts (two Grease quotes in two posts – this is what a steady diet of kitschy pop culture gets you, my friends).
I have to admit, I didn’t really step outside of my normal viewing habits with this show. I was already considering it when I realized it was an option for our blogs. I tend to shy away from things that become rife with mainstream popularity, but I generally end up gimping on to the wagon a year or two later, as I’ve illustrated with this blog. The real reason I considered watching this show are the costumes. A subject I’m so excited about, I’m saving it for next time.
Viewed on my usual couch, evening, with friends.
Things in the Mad Men world are getting darker and darker. This episode opens with Don Draper’s brother, Adam Whitman, at his hotel sending a package to his brother. When he returns to his room, he hangs himself with his own belt. Back at Sterling Cooper, the office is limping along without Sterling. Just in time for a meeting, Sterling returns and promptly has another heart attack in the meeting. In the meantime, Peggy Olson gets a new account for a personal massager masquerading as a weight loss tool. In Sterling’s absence, Draper is made a partner and Peggy gets a raise and maybe even her own office. Pete Campbell finds the package sent to Draper and takes it with him. And last but not least, Betty Draper is at home having an affair with an destabilized dryer.
Throughout the season I’ve been noticing the sets of the show. Set in 1960, the show is obviously a period piece. The set designers and decorators have done an impressive job emulating the time period. The Sterling Cooper offices are beautifully done – there is the pit, or a bull pen, where all the secretaries desks are, and surrounding the bull pen are the offices of Don Draper, Pete Campbell, and the rest of the crew.
The individual offices are perfectly in sync with the time period and some, like Cooper’s, reflect the trends of the time period. Style-wise there was a lot of Asian influence (Rachel Menken even has a scene in an Asian restaurant in this episode where she does a terrible job of eating with chopsticks), and Cooper’s office as several Oriental touches to it:
In addition to the perfectly stylized offices, I also find the colors used in the show very beautiful and timely. Everything from painted walls to the clothing have an amazing palette. The colored glass surrounding the pit in combination with the greys of the office give the whole area a cool and toned atmosphere. The costuming in the show compliments the set in every way – mossy greens, warm reds, greys, taupes and brassy golds visually pull together every scene. The color palette of Mad Men makes even the most boring episode appear visually interesting and appealing. I’m actually pretty convinced that Mad Men might be the most visually stunning show on TV right now.
Viewed at home, (I still hate this couch) early evening, by myself.
On this episode of Mad Men, things are getting dark, twisted, and sexy. It’s about to be Labor Day Weekend and the Sterling Cooper mad men are working on Nixon’s ad campaign pro-bono, but they’ve got to cut the brain storming short for a meeting with Menkens. I haven’t reviewed too many of the Rachel Menken plot points, but Menken’s is a large department store owned by a Jewish family. One of the daughters, Rachel, is helping her father run the business and goes to Sterling Cooper for help revitalizing the store. She and Don begin a friendship, but it’s obvious they are both putting in a lot of effort into side stepping the mutual attraction they have for each other. Rachel puts an end to the flirting when she finds out Draper is married.
Roger Sterling passes Joan Holloway in the hallway and asks her what she wants to do that night since the whole city will be out of town and they can go where ever they want. She requests to see a movie and the two get in a spat. Her friend Carol shows up at the office because she’s been fired for covering for her boss and in a fleeting moment of empowerment, the ladies decide to hit the town by themselves for some real bachelor hunting.
By clicking this cut, you acknowledge that you are over the age of 18, or a 15 year-old boy that really needs more practice at finding porn on the internet.
Viewed at home on the couch, by myself, in the late afternoon.
In this episode, I actually started to enjoy the child-like ice queen known as Betty Draper. A few posts ago I predicted that we were about to see another side of Betty, and it turns out I was right. The meat of this episode is about a rival advertising agency trying to steal the suave Don Draper away from Sterling Cooper’s Madison Avenue roost. Jim Hobart, the man fishing for Draper, happens to meet the Drapers at the opera during a production of Fiorello!. He compliments Betty on her Grace Kelly looks and suggests she model for their new Coca-Cola ad campaign. Betty suddenly decides to take him up on it and make a sudden return to the modeling career she left behind when she met Don. Little does she know the offer is just another way for Hobart to steal Draper away from Sterling Cooper – much like the golf clubs and the hefty salary he dangles in front of the “mad man.”
When Draper decides not to take the job at the other company, Betty suddenly gets dropped from her ad campaign and instead of telling her husband the truth, tells him that she’s decided to be a stay at home wife again because, after all, she hates having Don come home to leftovers every night. During her working mom absence, the kids have let the family dog snatch one of the neighbor’s pigeons, though the dog doesn’t injure it too badly. The neighbor threatens to shoot the dog if it comes on to his property again. At the end of the episode, Betty Draper does this to retaliate, and I fall just a little in love with Don Draper’s super square wife.
Back at the office, Peggy Olson’s weight gain has become office fodder. Weight gain, shmeight gain. Can anyone spell P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T with Pete Campbell’s devil spawn? Olson rips the seam of her skirt when she leans over in her chair, and covers it by wearing her sweater around her waist all 7th grade style. Joan Holloway tries to help by loaning Olson an ill fitting red dress.
I can’t believe how much I like this show compared to when I first started watching it. I’m ready to tear through the rest of the season so I can start up the second season. There is no doubt the show has gotten better as the season gains momentum – they definitely started to hit their stride mid-season. Mad Men is also a period piece – every last detail fits into the exact time period the show is set in. Despite this, the show manages to be completely relevant. While the offices and clothing are a bit different, and everyone might be a bit more drunk then they are now when noon rolls around, it still goes to show that the human experience hasn’t changed all that much.
Viewed at home on my couch, with a friend, late at night.
In this episode, Peggy Olson’s having a big day – the copy she wrote for Belle Jolie lipstick is being presented to the client. She comes in early and runs into Pete Campbell who’s also in early to avoid his responsibilities at home that day – he and his wife are moving into their new apartment. To ease the nerves, Campbell calls Olson into his office and initiates an early morning office tryst before the rest of the staff gets there.
Later that day, Olson’s ad copy is a success. Don Draper and the rest of the crew pour her a congratulatory drink and decide they’ve worked enough. Most of the office leaves to go to a bar called P.J. Clarke’s where they do the twist. Seriously. Olson asks Campbell to dance but he declines and tells her, “I don’t like you like this.” Olson backs away as her eyes fill with tears.
Draper, who has just received a bonus from the head partner at Sterling Cooper decides to trek down to the village to take Midge for a Parisian weekend. Midge and her beatnik friends have other plans – they’re getting stoned and listening to Miles Davis records. Draper gets stoned with them and flashes back to his childhood (wherein he still has the creepy haircut). In the flashback we meet Don Draper, then known as “Dick Whitman” and his family, who takes in a drifter for an evening.
Furthermore, we learn that Draper (Dick Whitman) is a “whore-child” as the hobo drifter teaches him the “hobo code.” These are a series of pictures left on the front of houses for other hobos – a picture of a knife means a dishonest man lives there, a zig zag line means there’s a nasty dog, and a pie means good food. When the hobo leaves, the young Draper (Dick) finds a picture of a knife on the fence post of his house. Back at Midge’s, Draper takes a photo of Midge and her friend Roy. Upon closer inspection of the photo, Draper sees that Midge and Roy are in love. He says this, but still asks her to go to Paris again. She says no. Draper takes the bonus check, endorses it, and sticks it in Midge’s bra. With that, Draper leaves.
It’s safe to say I’m getting into the show now. Whenever I discuss it with friends who are hooked, I find myself constantly reminding them not to spoil the future seasons for me because I’ll definitely be watching them. I’m looking forward to watching these characters develop over time – the show is good about not giving everything away too quick. It’s also very subtle when it comes to the important details. Blink once, and you’ll miss them.
Viewed late at night, at home on my couch, with a friend, during a heavy thunderstorm.
This is Roger Sterling. He is a major partner at the Sterling Cooper ad agency, and the boss (read: drinking partner) of Don Draper. He has a wife and daughter, but he’s having an affair with Joan Holloway. In most walks of life, he’s generally despicable. In this episode, Sterling becomes an unexpected dinner guest at the Draper home outside New York City. When Don goes to the garage to search for more liquor, Sterling helps Betty take the dishes in the kitchen and ends up hitting on her. She resists him, and Don walks in sensing that something has happened between his wife and Sterling. After boss man leaves, Draper yells at Betty, telling her she was acting like a giggly school during dinner and blaming her for the episode in the kitchen.
The next day at the office, Sterling brings Draper a bottle of liquor and apologizes for the night before. He compares it to “parking your car in the wrong garage” and explains that “When a man gets to a point in his life when his name’s on the building, he can get an unnatural sense of entitlement.” He likes to mention that his name is on the building a lot. Draper plays it cool, but he’s still verbally holding it against Betty. Later, we see Draper speaking with the elevator operator and handing him some cash.
Speaking of Betty, we see her grocery shopping the next day. She spots Helen Bishop (the divorcee from down the street with the serial killer-in-training son) and says hello. Helen tells Betty that she found the lock of blond hair in her son’s room and admonishes Betty saying, “He’s only nine!” Betty slaps Helen and runs out of the super market. I think we’re starting to see Betty come undone, which sounds bad – but I think Betty is going to start showing that she’s a lot smarter and more multi-faceted than everyone thinks.
A few episodes ago it was mentioned that Richard Nixon, a likely presidential candidate, might be using Sterling Cooper for his ads. Sterling wants Draper on the account so before a meeting with Nixon’s people, the guys go out to lunch. They eat a few too many oysters and drink multiple martinis, completely forgetting to discuss Nixon’s ad campaign. When they return stuffed and drunk, the elevators are out of service. With Nixon’s people waiting, Sterling huffs and puffs up the 23 flights of stairs while Draper barely breaks a sweat. Draper introduces himself to Nixon’s people and Sterling makes an attempt, but instead vomits martinis and oysters all over the rug in the lobby of the office. They give Sterling a moment to collect himself while Draper follows the men in to the meeting with a trace of a smile on his face.
After writing in another post that I felt a certain scene must have been written by a woman, I decided to do some research on the writers of the show. As it turns out, seven of the nine writers on the show are women (pictured above). Unsurprisingly, the articles on the female majority confirms many things I would already assume. Of course, the writers have a larger pool of experiences to draw from since they’ve probably encountered many of the same problems that Joan Holloway and Peggy Olson would face in their work places.
I hate to admit that knowing so many of the writers are women makes me like the show more, but it is true. For that reason, I’m glad I didn’t know anything about the writers when I started watching the show. However I wonder if that has anything to do with the men of the show being less like-able. I’m definitely not one to believe that women can’t write for male characters, or vice-versa, but personally I have a harder time feeling sympathy for the male characters. Then again, this difficulty could also be a product of the fact that I’m female and usually tend to feel more kinship with female characters. Either way, it’s interesting to know exactly who it is behind the words of Mad Men.
Viewed at home on my increasingly uncomfortable couch, with a friend, late at night.
Holy creepy flashback, this episode starts with Don Draper attempting to make breakfast in bed for his wife on Mother’s Day, but instead Draper takes a literal trip on the stairs and amid the shattered dishes he flashes back to a fall down the stairs when he was a kid and his baby brother Adam (brother from another mother) was born. The important fact we take from this? Draper had a very unfortunate and creepy haircut as a child.
Back from creepy haircut land, Don and Betty are getting home from a nice Mother’s Day out with the kids and they begin to talk about Joan Crawford, the star of the movie they saw that afternoon.
Betty Draper starts comparing Joan Crawford in her younger years to how she’s beginning to age. This conversation morphs into Betty voicing her own fears about her looks fading as she gets older. I think it is important to note that at this point, I’m about to get hooked on this show. This scene puts something on display almost every single woman has worried about – in fact, it’s so dead on I’d venture to say that this scene had to be written by a woman (Are You There, Tina Fey? It’s Me, Couch Commando).
Of course getting older is scary for everyone, but Betty’s concern can still be easily passed off as superficial. But Betty – perhaps without knowing it – is giving a voice to a concept that transcends international borders, class, and race. In almost all societies a woman’s social value is intertwined with her physical appearance. Betty may not have a Women’s Studies class to help her verbalize this unfortunate concept – but deep down she already knows that her social value to men, and therefore her economic security, is almost entirely dependent on how she looks.
(Side note: We cannot talk about Joan Crawford without watching Faye Dunaway have a psychotic break as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.)
Speaking of looks, this episode gives us a whole new look at Joan Holloway – the office femme fatale who is steadily leaving a stream of chewed up man-boys in her wake. Following a visit of partner Roger Sterling’s wife and daughter, Margaret (played by the amazing Elizabeth Rice) we find Sterling in a hotel room bemoaning his problematic daughter to Joan Holloway who is getting dressed.
Can you say hook, line, sinker? I am so on this Mad Men wagon it’s not even funny.
Back at the ad agency, the Old Boy’s Club plus Salvatore Romano, the art director, is wrestling with a lipstick account (I’m placing my gay bet now – I’ve known Romano was gay since the first episode. He’s so gay I want to bake him a coming out cake in the shape of a butterfly). Out of ideas, the guys agree to “throw it to the chickens.” All the secretaries, led by Holloway (back from her midday romp) are brought into a room with a two-way mirror used for consumer testing. The women settle in to try out the lipstick and this scene takes place:
Oh, and this after the men ask each other “Do you speak moron?” as a way of saying, “Can you speak so women understand you?” Charmers.
Right after the consumer testing, one of the ad guys, Fred, starts speaking with Peggy Olson, who verbalizes some nice phrases that would translate well to ad copy. Later, Fred goes to Draper to talk about the lipstick account and mentions Olson’s way with words. Fred is so shocked at the thought of a smart woman with ad talent he says, “It was like watching a dog play the piano!” Towards the end of the episode, Holloway tells Olson that the ad guys have requested that she help write some copy for the lipstick account. On top of her work as Draper’s secretary, of course.
This episode definitely stepped it up. I tend to like the episodes that focus on the women of Mad Men because I find their story lines more conflicted and dynamic. The male characters of this show have few redeeming qualities and the women are saddled with the same curse – yet I am most interested in the female story lines because these women are usually in such a precarious position. While the position of men in our society have changed considerably, the role of women in our society has changed drastically in comparison. Seeing women function in a time period that planted the seeds for the women’s rights movement makes me reflect on how much things have changed and how much things have stayed the same. I’m looking forward to watching the next episode now that things are getting thick and complicated. Consider me hooked.
Bonus round: 10 points to the sad sap that identifies the offensively bad Judy Blume joke in this post.
Viewed on my awful Ikea couch, with a friend, in the early evening.
This episode opens up with Don and Betty Draper getting back from an award ceremony – from which Don is carting home the big trophy. Arriving late and hung over to the office the next morning, everyone is full of congratulations for he and Ken, who in an exercise of publish or perish, got a short story printed in the Atlantic Monthly. Of course it turns out that Pete Campbell is a writer too, and he is absolutely perishing in the background – because Campbell can’t stand to see the spotlight on someone else. He sends his wife Trudy out to her old boyfriend (a big guy in publishing) to get one of his stories published and the old flame agrees, but only after making Trudy an inappropriate offer for some extramarital fun. She demurs and later Campbell throws a temper tantrum because the publication he’s getting published in isn’t good enough for him. Who didn’t see that one coming?
Back in the office, Draper’s murky past is coming back to haunt him again. He’s in a meeting when Peggy Olson lets him know someone is in the lobby to see him. Cue the mystery music – the guy in the lobby is his little brother who spotted the elder Draper’s picture in the paper (from his award), and he calls Don “Dick.” Fast forward a little, and Draper is offering baby brother $5,000 bones to get lost.
Since that takes care of this episode’s summary, we can move on to what I really wanted to talk about – the theme music and the opening title sequence of the show. A couple weeks ago I accidentally saw the last 15 minutes of a conference on opening title sequences. It got me thinking about how opening title sequences and music set the entire tone for a show. Every time an audience sits down to watch an episode, the opening title sequence is the first introduction they’ve got and it will likely be what they remember from the show long after they stop watching it. I mean, who can’t sing the “Fresh Prince” theme after all these years?
For reference, here’s the Mad Men opening sequence:
I’ve seen the opening sequence of Mad Men at least five times now, and I’m able to take a closer look at it each time. The theme music is an instrumental piece by RJD2 and fits the opening sequence nicely. It’s not too slow and it’s not too fast, but it’s mysterious, serious, intelligent, and sexy. The black and white silhouette of a businessman falling from the top of a building during the sequence is interesting as well – the fall is slow and languid, suggesting a dream-like state; some sort of suspension of reality. The style of the whole show is heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock and during the opening they pay homage to a graphic designer and Hitchcock’s main man for title sequences: Saul Bass. Bass created the sky-scraper filled opening to North by Northwest in 1959 and was also responsible for the movie poster of Vertigo, which also featured the motif of a falling man.
What’s most impressive about the opening sequence and the musical accompaniment is that both are modern and contemporary in essence, but still visually recall the time period of the show. It’s done in simple, basic colors: black, white, and red. In the background old ads are superimposed onto the buildings – these echo the color palette used in the show. The opening is slick but not greasy, and it’s definitely smart. This is not a show that will talk down to you or explain it all to you. In a way, the opening keeps the show from feeling stale since it’s set in the past, but it’s modern enough to keep the attention of a present-day audience.