Friday, May 08, 2015
IS JOHN HAMM A STAR?
MAD MEN is my favorite show of all-time having beat out the Sopranos years ago. Unlike other shows that I liked for a while, Dexter, The Shield, and Damages, the show has moved forward rather than re-hash old tropes. Sometimes Weiner will even setup old tropes only to change course and surprise you. In the age where the protagonist is an anti-hero in all of the better shows, Don Draper fits the bill without ever killing anyone. The character is written well, but you have to credit John Hamm for bringing an intensity to the role that makes it special. Hamm is a versitle actor than can do comedy and drama, but he's not really terribly interesting unless he is playing a derivative of Don Draper. His cameo in Bridesmaid could have been played by a dozen actors. His role in The Town is forgettable. He shines in an episode of the UK show, BLACK MIRROR, because he plays a version of Draper.
Mad Men must account among it's inspirations THE MAN IN THE GREY FLANNEL SUIT. It's about a war veteran living a double life and trying to reconcile both while appearing to be a bland commuter. It's a great book and a decent movie with Gregory Peck. Peck is great in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and ROMAN HOLIDAY. I don't think Hamm would have been above average in either, but Gregory Peck was genius in both. But what Hamm does with Draper is far more interesting than what Peck did in flannel suit. Like all actors Hamm wants to avoid being typcast, but it will be tricky because he is superior at that one thing and average at everything else. I don't see a future for him in leading film roles. He probably needs a LOST type ensemble show where even as the main character he isn't the linchpin for success.