TV Reviews: Mad Men 2.7, True Blood 1.1

Control Freaks: TV Reviews with Attitude

Mad Men, AMC, Airs Sunday 10/9c

Mad Men: The Gold ViolinEpisode: “The Gold Violin” (Season 2, Episode 7)

Synopsis: Don Draper (Jon Hamm) buys a stylish new Coupe de Ville, Joan (Christina Hendricks) loses her temper at work, and Sal (Bryan Batt) has Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) over for dinner to discuss literature.

Review: This week we get to see Sterling (John Slattery) get under Joan’s skin again, which makes the series infinitely more interesting and we get to see more of Sal’s inner demons regarding his sexuality possibly coming out in respect to a co-worker. It appears as if Jimmy Barrett (Patrick Fischler) is trying to come on to Betty Draper (January Jones), but he has an ulterior motive on his hands. “The Gold Violin” is the calm-before-the-storm episode. We see Don embracing being a big-wig and we’re starting to see how the mighty may fall. And while this episode was missing some of the humor and stop-in-your-tracks dramatic moments captured earlier in this season, notably in 2.4 “Three Sundays” (Bobby’s “We need to get you a new daddy” brought an immediate streaming of tears to my eyes), we can see where things are going from here. Sal’s character has a lot of potential for growth and seeing more of his Kitty as a potential foe should be more interesting as it develops. Colin Hanks (looking shockingly like his father nowadays) returns as Father Gill for next week’s episode, “A Night to Remember”–and hopefully it will be! -Josh Radde

True Blood, HBO, Airs Sunday 9pm

True Blood: Strange Love“True Blood” is the newest series to hit HBO from Oscar winner Alan Ball, who brought “Six Feet Under” to the small screen and was the writer of American Beauty. This series is based of the Southern Vampires Mysteries book series penned by Charlaine Harris and stars Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress at Merlotte’s Bar, an out of the way joint in small town Louisiana. In this world, vampires exist and have revealed themselves to the world after a synthetic blood (TruBlood) has been invented by the Japanese. The series revolves around the trials and tribulations that arise from a merging of two vastly different cultures.

Episode: “Strange Love” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Synopsis: Vampires exist and they’re among us thanks to a new synthetic food source – Tru Blood. In small town Louisiana, things are complicated for Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress who hears all the thoughts of those around her. Juggling a fiery best friend, a Lothario brother, and a loving bar owner, she adds one more piece to the puzzle when Bill, a mysterious vampire, arrives in town to make a home. Sookie soon finds out that maybe the bad boy reputation of vampires isn’t all that its made out to be as two locals, the Rattrays, seek to steal Bill’s blood to sell on the market as a drug. Sookie Stackhouse makes a new friend in Bill, but two enemies in the Rattrays, who seek their revenge in the cliffhanger ending. Sookie’s brother Jason also finds himself in hot water after a local woman he had a relationship with turns up dead.

Review: HBO seems poised to be praised for “Doing it again” with “True Blood. ” The show is a bit odd, but once you settle into the world, it’s enjoyable. There were some missteps off the bat – a reference to Katrina within the first 2 minutes, yeah we get it, this is New Orleans. The accents are a bit strong to begin with, though over time they become less noticeable. Visually, the show has a good look and the style is fun, though the sped up camera movement of the vampires has been played out time and time again and is nothing new. The opening credits had a rough film look to them, showed off some nudity, and had a good, folksy rock feel to it. Speaking of nudity, the first episode packs it in. There are a few sex scenes, lots of glimpses of breasts and even some naked dudes for the ladies. It’s always appreciated when a show embraces its adult nature and feels free to expand into all areas that subscription cable allows. It looks like we’re in for a sexy, bloody, violent good time on HBO. Story wise, the pilot is treated as an introduction to the characters and the world – vampires are feared and ostracized, Sookie is a bit of an outcast, and small town Louisiana is exactly what you’d expect it to be like. I like the pilot as a preview of what’s to come, there is a lot to explore. The origins and creators of Tru Blood, the extent of vampire prejudices, and the full history and powers of these creatures. With vampires and telepaths, I’m interested to see if at some point we get to explore more elements of fantasy – werewolves please! All in all, “Strange Love” is a good introductory start to the pilot, introduces us to all the major players and situations, and gives us just enough to want us to come back next week. Not everything is perfect – the accents like I mentioned were kind of annoying to start and the actress portraying best friend Tara comes off a bit too sassy for my liking, but perhaps we just need to grow with the character. This show has definitely secured my viewership for a few more episodes out of legitimate interest. Of course, I’ll be watching them all to keep you in the know. – Robert Fure

For more coverage of your favorite shows, check out the Control Freaks Archive.

Did you watch Mad Men or True Blood this week? If so, feel free to discuss below.

Josh is a multi-tasker. He's been a cubicle monkey for the last few years, a veteran stage actor of over 10 years, a sometimes commercial actor, occasional writer of articles, a once-legend in the realm of podcastery, purveyor of chuckles in his homecity of Chicago as he has trained with the world renown iO (Improv Olympic) and Second City Conservatory and performed with both theaters, and can be seen doing a thing that actor's do on the website of his online sitcom, Josh also likes to tackle the beef of his bio with one run-on sentence, because it befits his train-of-thought.

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