The Philadelphia Phillies provided a strong one-two punch over the weekend, with World Series victories both Saturday and Sunday – but actor Jon Hamm also enjoyed a pair of impressive weekend TV triumphs.
On Saturday, he was the guest host for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and did something very unusual for this politics-heavy season: He gave SNL viewers a reason to watch something besides the opening sketch and “Weekend Update.” Hamm was a surprisingly solid and adept comic, whether imitating James Mason, spoofing his own Mad Men character Don Draper in a pair of sketches, or even managing to pull off a fake ad for lunch meat dispensed, toilet-paper-style, in a bathroom stall: Jon Hamm’s John Ham.
And on Sunday, the second-season finale of Mad Men provided scene after scene that demonstrated why this show has attracted such acclaim. Several characters did the unexpected, as the Cuban Missile Crisis made everything around them seem on very shaky ground. Don returned to work and home, finding neither of them as he left them. His wife, Betty, had casual sex with a stranger and learned she was pregnant – but not in that order. And when Pete finally revealed to Peggy that he loved her, she revealed her secrets, too, and devastated him.
Games 3 and 4 of the World Series were examples of what network TV still does the best. But outside of prime time, and on cable’s AMC, Jon Hamm provided other examples of TV excellence as well. For the record: Saturday Night Live is not anywhere near dead, and Mad Men, in its second season, managed somehow to be even better than last year.