Hung is a classic case of a great premise that has been terribly mishandled. The plot of the show is centered around Ray Drecker, who turns to male prostitution in a last ditch attempt to turn his increasingly pathetic life around. However, the pilot moves forward slowly, highlighting more of Drecker's pathetic life and his initial foray into "the world's oldest profession". By the end of the first episode, the viewer doesn't really connect with any of the characters and the plot seems to have gone nowhere. The primary actors attempt to make the most of the material they have, but, ultimately, they fall flat in attempting to be likable to the audience.
The biggest issue is how casually the problems of Drecker were introduced, nonchalantly stacked on one another without emotional string pulling, so much so that the audience can clearly SEE the problems in Drecker's life, but don't really feeling the desperation of man that has no option but to market himself.
Lack of emotional attachment and a slow plot reveal drug the pilot down so much that half way through the episode, I wished I had a commercial break just to give myself an excuse to flip the channel. This is not a great start for this new "comedy" on HBO... but I have high hopes that things will turn around as the season progresses.
I was shocked to read a few of the other comments of Mad Men, most of which bemoan bad acting and hackneyed situations. But, like many great genre shows, Mad Men continues the trend of great television programming by putting fascinating characters in a realm so alien from today's world, that we forget that it is our past.
While many reviewers place the highlight of the show on Don Draper, his escapades in the office and in his personal life, the show is so much more than a linear piece about one man. The cast works in a truly ensemble fashion, each leading entangled lives, never fully spelling out how each character is feeling or thinking, rather leaving up the situation to interpretation. The acting is superb, especially the introspective way that Jon Hamm portrays Don Draper. He speaks very tersely, rarely talking with passion about anything (unless he's pitching an idea), and never about how he feels. All of this reflects a society that is long gone... you can't imagine any of your friends acting and reacting in the same way to such situations, but I can't see any of my friends acting like my grandparents and their friends either.
As with sci-fi and fantasy, it takes a truly immersive view to understand and love the characters and the plot lines that occur. It isn't crazy, it isn't out there, it's every day life on a planet that we'll never know. It doesn't relish, celebrate, or bash the 60's... it doesn't feel like a stereotype... it just matter-of-factly is that decade.
What will be particularly interesting is to see if Mad Men has the staying power past 13 episodes a season and not become wrought with frivolities and "period" centric pop-culture references.