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Return of ‘Mad Men’ is Can’t Miss TV

The much-acclaimed "Mad Men" returns after being showered with Emmy nominations. Other top picks this week include a CSN&Y CD and a fascinating book about the rise of bottled water.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Television

Amc

Much has been made of the fact that “Mad Men” is the best show that no one has heard of, which of course has created the opposite effect: Now everybody has heard of it because it’s so underappreciated. Soon the tide will shift yet again, and it will become a huge hit and then a backlash will occur and no one will want to watch it because everybody is watching it. Before you get sucked down by this undertow of inanity, check out the premiere of the second season of “Mad Men,” which follows the adventures of advertising types on Madison Avenue in the 1960s, complete with clouds of cigarette smoke and three-martini lunches. “Mad Men” just snagged 16 Emmy nominations, including one for best series. I think the secret is out now. (AMC, Sunday, 10 p.m.)

Movies

Rca

In 1973, rocker Lou Reed unveiled a rock opera called “Berlin” that was met with mixed reviews. Much of the criticism came from the piece’s subject matter, which contained generous amounts of drugs, sex, depravity and suicide. But Reed felt he had unfinished business, and decided to revisit it using a film crew and a world-renowned director (Julian Schnabel of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” fame). The result, “Lou Reed’s ‘Berlin’ ” is a triumphant concert film that tells the story of a couple coming apart in West Berlin while the Wall was still dividing societies. It’s not for everybody. But if you were digging Velvet Underground while everyone else was bopping to Elton John, you’ll probably get this. (Third Rail Releasing, in theaters now)

Music

Warner Bros.

Nobody protests a war like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. And they’re still at it. In the ‘60s, they sang the praises of “Woodstock” and warned of “Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming” in “Ohio,” a response to the Kent State shootings in 1970. Now they’re back, with “Déjà Vu Live,” a CD of their most recent concert film from the “Freedom of Speech Tour” that takes on the current authorities and their actions. There are songs the average CSN&Y fan will recognize, such as “Teach Your Children” and “Wooden Ships,” as well as newer tracks such as “Military Madness” and “Looking for a Leader.” You don’t have to be an old hippie to enjoy this new album, but it will help you think like one. (Warner Brothers)

DVD

Image: BirdWarner Home Video

Clint Eastwood is generally recognized as one of America’s greatest living directors. But it wasn’t always so. The film that sent him into a new stratosphere — at least artistically — was the 1988 labor of love called “Bird,” a biopic on the life of virtuoso jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. With superb performances by Forest Whitaker in the title role as well as Diane Venora as his long-suffering wife Chan, “Bird” took the feel and mood of Parker’s music and translated it beautifully to celluloid. The film is somewhat forgotten now in the Eastwood canon, but it gets the full two-disc special edition treatment this week on DVD. Parker was a tormented and self-destructive soul, but his music lives on, and this film is a celebration of two artists — Parker and Eastwood. (Warner Home Video)

Books

Bloomsbury Usa

Have you ever wondered why you drink bottled water instead of tap water? Are you completely sure your bottled water doesn’t come from the tap? What about these “springs” that spring water supposedly comes from? Most folks don’t bother exploring these questions. They just crack open a pricey bottle of water and start guzzling. But journalist Elizabeth Royte decided to plunge a little deeper into the subject. The result is “Bottlemania,” which takes a hard look at the making of this water, the transportation and bottling of it, and the effect on the environment from the process of manufacturing thousands upon thousands of plastic bottles full of this clear nectar – which, by the way, have to go somewhere after they’re emptied. Fill yourself a cool glass of tap and get informed. (Bloomsbury USA)