It might well be the most stylish series on television. But when "Mad Men" beams into the homes of some of its most devoted viewers, the picture quality might make them think they've had one martini too many.
The 2008 Emmy drama champ airs on AMC, but the cabler's high-definition channel isn't on the menu of such major providers as DirecTV and Time Warner Cable.
Not that AMC is alone in this regard. Comedy Central, Golf, Lifetime, MSNBC and Travel are among several other networks that haven't found nationwide distribution for their HD selves.
The issue is significant for those watching on HD sets.
However, when the standard-definition broadcast is viewed on an HD set, there is murkiness, with colors not ringing true and images looking diffused.
Wha!?! No Mad Men in HD on DirecTV? But rather than being an issue of technology limitations, it seems to be a matter of time due to legacy carriage agreements that predated the HD channels, and HD won't likely come to those outlets until the carriage agreements come up for renewal.
It seems then though that either Comcast was very proactive, or the existing agreements ran out with very good timing. At this point I can't think of anything I watch that doesn't have an HD channel, and in the cases of shows like Mad Men on AMC or Sons of Anarchy on FX, the HD channels are available and the show's are available in HD On Demand.
The problem Variety notes about murkiness, etc., is much more pronounced on bigger screen TVs. What looks pretty much just fine on a 24" widescreen, looks worse on a 42" widescreen and much worse on a 61" widescreen.
At this point though, my issue isn't so much with the availability of HD channels, but rather that not everything aired on those channels is in HD. I still see the occasional baseball game that isn't in HD, sometimes just in pure SD, and sometimes in badly up-converted HD. But the increased availability of HD channels and programming over the last couple of years has been rapid.
I still want everything to be available in HD On Demand but concede the advances over the last year or two particularly have been very nice, at least on Comcast.