AMC’s “Mad Men” premieres this weekend. For three seasons now, the popular, dark, set-in-the-early 1960 drama about New York City advertising executives and their enigmatic leader, Don Draper, has made us reexamine the dress, style, mores–and design–of mid-century America. And it all seems so cool now.
But 24 years ago, NBC took on the same time period with “Crime Story," a show about the really mad men of the Chicago Police Major Crimes Unit, led by Lt. Mike Torello (former real life Chicago cop Dennis Farina) as they track hood-on-the-rise Ray Luca, a Tony Spilotro-like mobster played by Anthony Denison. The show was never as popular as “Mad Men”; the set-in-Chicago drama premiered in 1986 and was cancelled after two seasons.
Created by Chicago-born director Michael Mann on the heels of “Miami Vice,” “Crime Story” was a tough, gritty show–especially its remarkable first season. But it was “Mad Men” ‘s equal, or better, when it came to the use of mid-century clothes, manner and architecture.