Don Draper is to Matt Weiner as "Duck" Phillips is to AMC?

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August 31st, 2008

I'm beginning to wonder if there is some perfect symmetry with the fictional Mad Men on AMC and the real-life trials and tribulations when it comes to the show's production and treatment by AMC.

Is it possible that the shows creator Matt Weiner is Don Draper and that programming executives at AMC are Herman "Duck" Phillips (played absolutely brilliantly by Mark Moses)? While I'm using that as a metaphor, the ratings (or the lack of access to them if there is none) will tell whether this is merely metaphor or approaching being the precise truth.

Tonight's episode of Mad Men, on the heels of a season two mini-marathon, was the best episode all season. Perhaps the best episode of the entire series. While often sloth-like in pace, tonight's episode crammed what seemed like two hours worth of 1962 goodness in.

But is it wise, even on the heels of the marathon to air your best episode of the season on the Sunday before Labor Day? The audience of television viewers was definitely much smaller than normal tonight. My viewing habits don't really count, but fear not, despite a complete redesign of our website and watching Mad Men, I still found time for sunshine, barbecue chicken and beer.

In AMC's favor is this: there was nothing on against the original episode of Mad Men at 10pm. Everything running against it was a repeat, even Army Wives. But should they have saved this episode for next week? Next week isn't quite as barren. Army Wives has a fresh episode, and USA is running a House Marathon. The question is, what's better? Compete against nobody when hardly anyone is watching or compete against almost nobody when many more people are watching TV?

That's no slight on House - I love it -- or Army Wives. But it's not like a new Desperate Housewives is running next Sunday. Whatever the ratings were, I will absolutely wash the car of the programming exec at AMC if last night's episode had more viewers than the paltry 1.1 million the August 17th episode had.

Sometimes I wish HBO had Mad Men. Even though it's available to about 60 million fewer households than AMC, it might get more viewers there.

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