I told myself that I wouldn't become one of those annoying Mad Men fans that analyzes every scene for mistakes, and I have been pretty good about not being like that, but this season is really disappointing.
With regard to production design, the first season was extremely cautious about not having an office that looked like a 1960 magazine ad for office furniture. Because of this attention to detail, many elements of the first office seemed a bit old fashioned. This is the way most offices are though, even nice new ones are not opened and furnished with all the latest in design and fashion. The exception to this rule in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s were huge companies that commissioned companies to dress their entire office. Knoll, Herman Miller, Steelcase, they all made their way in the world by designing furniture especially for a particular company which is even where you get some of the names for the pieces (like the Herman Miller Time Life chair that Don used in season 1).
So imagine my excitement/dismay when season 4 opens with a tour of the new office. The walk through is anything but subtle, and you get to see all of the wonderful colors of 1963 in vivid detail. The front waiting area is furnished by Knoll and it is all brand new, the lovely secretaries all sit in brand new Herman Miller task chairs, the walls are white and colored glass with modern draperies throughout. The conference room is nice, but DOESN'T HAVE A CONFERENCE TABLE. Kind of funny and ironic, but this is an ad agency and most of season 1 took place in the board room and showed the teams impeccable attention to detail. So they branched out on their own, with very little capital, a few accounts, and were able to put themselves up in an office that is even more modern then their old one? Please.
Then, we get to see Roger's new office. I could actually hear the collective furniture-gasm experienced by many watching that first episode, and I thought they were pretty cool digs myself but it does not fit. Roger Sterling is old fashioned enough that he still calls them Nips, and Japs, so why would he opt for a pop art office? Furthermore, he doesn't exactly love the Brits, yet he has a Bridget Riley painting adorning his walls. The lack of a desk is ridiculous, for him, and the Nesso lamp sitting on his desk wasn't even marketed until 1965, even though it was designed in 1964. Perhaps Roger has a special deal with Artimide.
Having just made an office transition/merger of my own I can tell you that it doesn't go this way. I was very excited at the prospect of watching these guys make that difficult transition and then pull out of it with grace, I was excited to be inspired by it. Instead I feel worse about my own situation, that perhaps the key to my own success would have been to buy nicer furniture....
In addition, the season is not as edge-of-your-seat interesting as it was in years past. I have found the cadence slower, and not as interesting. All of the characters seem less interesting, we have no idea what they are going to do next, and the use of constant one liners is horrible, oh and I hate Peggy. I really really hope that they figure it out and make it better because I would love nothing more than to see Mad Men show the evolution of characters through the leisure suit 70s all the way until the 80s when Don is a washed up old man living in Florida in a mobile home.