Matthew Weiner introduced viewers to Jon Hamm and Don Draper, taking us back to the '60s
Of all of the shows at the top of this list, I know that "Mad Men
" is the one that's most likely to make me look foolish in five or 10 years.
No, nothing is ever going to happen to the show's first 39 episodes to make them any less satisfying. The carefully plotted arcs of each of three seasons won't be unravelled. Carefully preserved on Blu-ray discs, the show's tremendous superficial qualities won't be impacted no matter what happens to "Mad Men" as it continues its run into the next decade.
But there's something to be said for knowing how the full series played out. "Deadwood," "The Sopranos" and "Arrested Development," the three shows I placed in a block with "Mad Men," are set in amber and I've rewatched enough of all three shows to know that they aren't going to look any worse in the near future.
As for the other active shows in my Top 10, "American Idol" is unlikely to have a twist ending in which we wonder whether or not Bikini Girl whacked Kara DioGuardi (though if that happened, it might be worth a retroactive raise for the FOX competition show). It's almost built into the "Lost" DNA that the ending is going to be monumentally awesome for some fans and monumentally disappointing for others. And the legacy of "Friday Night Lights" is secure, since the writers have already hit a nadir with Season Two and crawled out of it. Even if Killer Landry strikes again, it probably won't impact my love for seasons one, three and half-of-four.
But "Mad Men" is a work-in-progress and anything could happen from here. Sure, it was a bluff when Lionsgate faked in the direction of finding a new showrunner to replace a negotiating Matthew Weiner
after Season Two, but maybe next time it won't be? Or maybe Weiner will take a leap too far next season and seeing Don Draper and Joan navigating the Summer of Love will be less satisfying than we might imagine? Expectations can be a crushing thing and "Mad Men" has completed a three-season run near the top of TV's drama heap. Who knows?
All I do know is that with "Shut the Door, Have a Seat," Weiner and company ended their third season with an zippy, twist-filled finale that would have marked a satisfying series finale and definitely caps off one of the strongest creative spurts of the decade.
[You know the drill by now... More after the break.]