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"Mad Men," "Draft Day" are wise selections

By Alan Pergament

Sometimes I am asked more about why I chose not to write about things rather than what I have written about.

Take the case of Sunday's seventh season premiere of "Mad Men."

I tweeted that I had seen it before it aired, which had some people wondering why I didn't review it.

There were a couple of reasons why. It had been a pretty busy week. Something newsy came up every day I planned to review it.

In addition, I was a little concerned about accidentally violating the ground rules that AMC gave critics who were allowed to preview the episode.

We were advised not to reveal the year it was set and to avoid mentioning any new characters, the advertising firm's West Coast presence and the surprising twist in the episode about Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) work relationship with a copywriter.

I usually don't have problems avoiding spoiling important plot details. Truth is, I don't read reviews before I go to movies or watch TV shows because I'm afraid the critic will reveal too many things I'd rather discover myself.

Still, I was kind of surprised Saturday morning to see that the New York Times critic appeared to violate a few rules in a review published by the Buffalo News. She certainly mentioned the year the series is set.

Finally, I had a problem with the speed of my streaming of the episode even after recently signing up for the highest internet speed that Time Warner Cable offers.

The premiere seemed even slower on my internet than the episode was in real time and that's saying something. TWC was able to fix that problem with a phone call after I finished watching the premiere with the characters' voices slightly behind the moving of their mouths.

I suppose I could have watched the stream over again, but I decided I could do that when it aired live.

I remembered from last season that the slow pace of premiere episodes of "Mad Men" can be more than a little deceiving. There were several disappointing episodes last season before the series ended strongly with Draper getting booted out of his advertising agency -- at least temporarily -- and appearing to be lost.

I was reminded again last season that "Mad Men" should be looked at like a novel, with the first chapter setting up the rest of the season.

And I thought it set up things quite nicely last Sunday as many of the major characters didn't seem to realize who they are or what they want out of life. Presumably, they will spend the season on a journey of discovery.

My column last Sunday that explained why Western New York and the Buffalo Bills lost the Kevin Costner-Jennifer Garner movie "Draft Day" to Cleveland and the Browns didn't explain what I thought of the film that premiered here Friday.

That's because I hadn't seen it before my deadline. I decided to see it Saturday despite the mostly disappointing national reviews. I didn't read them but saw the consensus wasn't the movie didn't rate very high.

Sure several elements of the plot are ridiculous, starting with an early scene in which a top draft choice directly calls the general manager played by Costner and ending with the predictable triumphant conclusion.

But I was pleasantly surprised about how entertaining the film was if you're not expecting too much and go in with the right attitude. You know, like when you go to a Bills game.

"Draft Day" has some suspense, some humor and some sweetness, which explains why the audience gave the film directed by Ivan Reitman a much higher grade than critics. It reportedly got an average grade of B plus from filmgoers. I would have given it an F for believability but a solid B as entertainment. To paraphrase the old Madison Avenue slogan, try it this weekend, I bet you'll like it despite the reviews.

I see that NBC is promoting Thursday's episode of one of my favorite series, "Parenthood," as a "finale." The promo doesn't say if it is a season finale or a series finale. That scares me a little bit since the emotional series reportedly is on the bubble for renewal. It would be a crying shame if it were canceled.






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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |