'Mad Men' Needs A Proper 'Nightcap'

On Sunday, just after the season finale of AMC’s hit “The Walking Dead,” much of a shocked and emotional audience will covet conversation. They’ll want to know what fellow viewers think. They’ll want analysis and answers. Probably comfort and comic relief from the intensity and insanity.

And, AMC will try to deliver with its “Talking Dead,” the live post-show with commentary and attempts to process and break down the action. The show launched in the fall with “Walking Dead’s” second season with host Chris Hardwick and rotating guests, including show stars and the executive producer.

AMC encourages submitting questions via its Web site. Facebook and Twitter are other generators. So is 1-855-DEAD-LIVE.             

Oh, how great it would have been – how desperately needed it was – to have had a similar show the night of “The Sopranos” finale! There was no Facebook back then. So, when viewers regained consciousness after the screen went dark, some sort of instant national gathering place was needed. Even if a host or guests hadn’t anything profound to add to the confusion, comfort was needed in shared cluelessness. 



Which is why it is exceedingly quizzical and disheartening that when the season premiere of “Mad Men” debuts next Sunday, there won’t be an after-show to serve as a companion. “Mad Men’ creator Matthew Weiner said recently he's committed to “a holy sh*t moment in every episode."

Yet, there will be no show called “Sex, Lies & Deep Takes” or “Nightcap” to help viewers process that shocker in real-time. And, nothing for sorting through the dramatic layers or laughing at the ludicrousness or looking ahead to next week.

Twitter has a role, but it’s just text. And, bloggers need some time to come up with brilliance. Some people just want that old-time, instant conversation. They could call friends, but these days, they're likely to have recorded it for viewing later.

Executive producer Weiner is very protective of the “Mad Men” brand and Lionsgate is the studio behind the show, so AMC may have hurdles in taking advantage of this lay-up opportunity. But, it'd do well to fight hard, if not for the viewers, but its bottom line.

The concept of social TV is permeating the industry, with every network looking for ways to conquer it. ESPN seeks tweets to vote for its “SportsCenter” top 10. Anderson Cooper asks his CNN audiences to contact him through just about every means possible during his show.

If sports, election coverage and complex dramas are so compelling that social media conversation is electric, why let Facebook enjoy it all and sell ad impressions off it? Surely, they're thinking let's scroll tweets across the bottom of the screen or announce sponsored poll results, so we can get some dough. 

Josh Sapan, who heads AMC’s parent company, said this week that “Talking Dead” is an outgrowth of fans’ social-media conversation both during and after “Walking Dead,” the zombie drama with comic book roots. “We developed a show to sort of satisfy their appetite,” he said.

MediaPost TV columnist extraordinaire Ed Martin raved about "Talking Dead" Friday, saying it harnesses “exactly the kind of excited conversation” viewers have each week and it “represents yet another genius move by the programmers at AMC.”

The show is in line with AMC’s attempts to add unscripted series that offer original content at a far lower price than hour-long dramas. With “Walking Dead’s” comic-book inspiration, AMC has also recently launched “Comic Book Men,” centered on producer Kevin Smith’s New Jersey comic shop.

Sapan said ratings for the reality gambits have “exceeded our expectations,” but noted it’s early. Continued encouraging results could yield more experimentation.

Commentator Ed Martin wrote with Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" as inspiration, interactive talk shows are no-doubters for networks. But, AMC's Sapan made no mention of nightcaps for "Mad Men" or other AMC shows.

Hopefully, he's not talking that's dead.

2 comments about "'Mad Men' Needs A Proper 'Nightcap'".
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  1. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER, March 16, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.

    GOOD IDEA....why not get that Dorothy Parker person who does Post Partums for the show on this site

  2. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, March 16, 2012 at 11:06 p.m.

    Were they to adopt a model like this, I think it would be better placed as a recap preview earlier on Sunday evenings, before the latest new episode (recap/discuss episode 1 right before episode 2). Then it would be fun to predict what happens next. I still reserve my immediate post mortems until whatever "that Dorothy Parker person" has to say. She knows her Mad Men (and women).

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