Tube Talk: The ad man returneth

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

If it feels like ages since there was a new episode of AMC’s award-winning drama Mad Men, you’re right. The season four finale aired in October 2010, 17 months ago. After that lengthy lull, like most viewers I’ll be spending the next few days straining to remember where things left off.

If memory serves: everyone was upset when Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce lost their top client, Lucky Strike, following Don’s diatribe/ad in the New York Times; Don got engaged to his secretary; Peggy worked harder than most of the guys at the firm; Joan was still pregnant; there was a lot of drinking and smoking; and Betty Draper was still behaving like a spoiled little child.

No wonder so many people have been catching up with season four by holding their own Mad Men marathons. If you didn’t plan ahead and rent the DVDs, you’ll probably be glad to know that on Sunday morning, March 25, AMC is repeating the final three episodes of last season — “Chinese Wall” at 5 a.m., “Blowing Smoke” at 6 a.m., and “Tomorrowland” at 7 a.m.

Mad Men’s long awaited two-hour season premiere will finally air at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 25 (it repeats immediately following that at 10:08 p.m.).

Still can’t wait? Try entertaining yourself on the show’s website, In addition to watching a few video clips, you can create your own Mad Men avatar, find recipes for 1960s cocktails, study up on period fashion, play the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce job interview game, or find out which character you’re most like.

Who knew when Mad Men first hit the small screen in 2007 that it would become a (pop) cultural phenomenon?

There are a lot of reasons to love Mad Men — its complex characters, intertwining storylines, the retro ’60s vibe — but perhaps the biggest reason is because it helped usher in a new era of creative storytelling on TV. Mad Men was the break-out hit that paved the way for series like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and The Killing, making AMC one of the most lauded basic cable channels around. It also proved that American audiences will seek out and support great dramas that don’t fit the standard procedural mode most broadcast networks seem to prefer.

Now, we’ll finally see if audiences have the patience to endure such a long absence. Did impatient fans give up on Mad Men when it didn’t return to the schedule last summer? Or are they eagerly anticipating the next chapter in the saga?

Most fans I know are actually a bit giddy about the new season, so I’m betting they’ll come back in droves and generate strong ratings for the season premiere.

Sure, it’s been 17 months, but good things are worth waiting for.

From the March 21-27, 2012, issue

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