Ken Tucker
July 14, 2009 AT 09:06 PM EDT

The second season of Mad Men is out on DVD today, with some nice featurette extras about the era in which this sleek, addictive series exists. But the element fans are going to really zero in on are the commentaries provided by a number of the show’s actors and behind-the-scenes people. Most important, of course, is Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, whose commentaries on the crucial season premiere and season-concluding episodes are fascinating on a couple of levels. First, let’s relive the great moment in which “Duck” Phillips (the magnificent Mark Moses) at once triumphs and implodes in the season climax: the takeover of ad agency Sterling Cooper and what should have been Duck’s vanquishing of our hero, Jon Hamm’s Don Draper:

In his commentary, Weiner speaks eloquently about what he calls “Duck’s downfall.” He also points out how he wove TV and radio mentions of the then-current Cuban Missile Crisis throughout that episode, which is entitled “Meditations in an Emergency,” a reference to the title of a collection of Frank O’Hara poetry that (coming full circle) Don read in the season’s first episode.

It’s engrossing to hear Weiner and actress Elizabeth Moss, who plays Peggy, do the commentary on this episode. That slightly awkward relationship between boss and employee is nicely captured. Clearly, Moss has a lot to say about how her character evolved over this season, but as often as not, she’s overridden by Weiner, who from his comments seems to oversee pretty much everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if he said he counted the cigarette butts in the ashtray to make shots match.

As I say, fascinating stuff; if you’re obsessed with Mad Men, Weiner will match your obsessiveness and more.

Are you looking forward to this DVD collection? And can you believe the new season of Mad Men finally starts next month?

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