I don't know much about Lance Mannion except that cultural critic James Wolcott likes his stuff so that's all the recommendation I need. Wolcott quoted at length from Mannion's take on Mad Men. While his angle isn't the same as mine
they both pretty much end in the same place, that Mad Men is pretty dumb as a melodrama but would be a hoot as a flat ut comedy.
"The first episode of the new season of Mad Men struck comedic gold, every situation a laugh riot straight out of the best bedroom farce and classic satire. The fire alarm interrupting Don's and Sal's trysts in the hotel, Pete and Ken in the elevator, each thinking the other is congratulating him on the promotion, Sally Draper finding the stewardess's wings in Don's pocket and asking if he'd brought them back for her---these were scenes worthy of Feydeau, Wilde, and Shaw.
"Too bad none of them were played for laughs.
"But this has always been one of the most maddening things about Mad Men. It's a comedy with all the jokes removed.
Last Sunday's episode, Out of Town, is a perfect illustration. Except for the opening, Don Draper's bizarre vision of "Dick Whitman's" birth, the whole episode could have and should have been funny. It wasn't just that drained of humor the situations I listed were flat and lifeless. They were also without point or purpose. More than that, though, they were without sense. Played as they were, as naturalistic drama, they came across as mere constructions for construction's sake, there simply to give the actors things to do and say. But a character like Shelly the Stewie only makes sense as trouble for the philandering male lead in a farce. The point of her being there is to give us reason to laugh at the man who's foolish enough to pursue her. She doesn't exist as a character except in the act of causing laughter for us and embarrassment for the man. Any line of dialog she's given that isn't a variation of "Coffee, tea, or me?" reveals her not as a person but as a fantasy, and a not particularly imaginative fantasy at that. Take away her jokes and what you have left is a pretty actress acting her heart out to bring a stick to life."
for the rest go here:
Lance Mannion http://lancemannion.typepad.com/lance_mannion/2009/08/all-the-mad-men-and-all-the-mad-women-cant-tell-a-joke-to-save-their-lives.html