August 01, 2007

More than a quarter century ago, I was attending high school with a short, stumpy kid several grades behind me named Matt "Sex Dwarf" Weiner*. Even then, he had a wicked sense of humor and a sharp mind, and it was obvious that either great things were going to happen to him, or we were going to read of him getting into a shootout with federal agents at some polygamous cult in Idaho. He ended up going to college back east, then to SC Film, and the last time I saw him he was getting cheated out of a return date as champion on "Jeopardy."

After a decade or so of toiling in the trenches in Hollywood, including a stint on a sitcom that my sister worked on, Matthew Weiner ended up writing for some much beloved shows, then getting a job as a glorified gofer for David Chase, for which he received some justified props. Which, in turn, has led to this: his very own show, "Mad Men", on AMC Channel. It's not an understatement to say that it's the best new show on cable since both "The Shield" and "The Wire" debuted in 2002. It recaptures a not-so-distant moment in American history, in a way that doesn't condescend to its audience, and like most good television nowadays, it follows the MoneyBall principal of featuring unknown but talented character actors instead of "names." So watch it when it comes on, TiVo it, and watch it again. Then buy the DVD in four months.

There was clearly something in the water back at Harvard High twenty-five years, from a fountain which I did not partake....

*Also, the younger brother of the subject of this post.

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