When AMC’s critically acclaimed Mad Men returns on Sunday, March 25, it remains to be seen how loyal its viewers are. After a 17-month break, will fans return to find out how Madison Avenue ad man Don Draper fared after the drama of last season?
During that time, as much drama played off screen as it did on. Showrunner Matthew Weiner almost quit after being asked to cut two minutes from each episode’s running time, two million dollars from the show’s budget, and to delay the season five premiere until spring 2012. As part of a new three-year deal Weiner was able to keep his budget and his show’s running time, but agreed to delay the show's starting date. Whether the delay will help or hurt ratings is something we’ll know after the premiere airs.
Fans of the show would do well to watch because the two-hour season opener, “A Little Kiss,” does not disappoint. In the press kit that came with the episode screener, Weiner addresses questions the show’s fans have been mulling over. “Right now there are a lot of unanswered questions from Season 4: What year is it? What happened with Don and Megan (Don’s fiancée at the end of the season)? Don and Faye? Did Joan have the baby? How is the character Betty affected by actress January Jones’ real-life pregnancy? What’s going to happen to Sterling Cooper Draper & Pryce without Lucky Strike and with Don’s anti-tobacco letter? As soon as you watch this episode, your questions and more will be answered.”
It’s a tall order but Weiner is on the mark. His request for journalists not to reveal any of these answers before “A Little Kiss” airs is a reasonable one. I will say that the characters in question have all moved forward in their lives in ways you might expect, but there are some surprises as well. As for Don Draper, the constant enigma: you may just see a few cracks in that veneer of mystery he hides behind.
The story of Mad Men continues, like a long, engrossing novel you will hate to see end. Thankfully that time has not yet come.
Season 5 of Mad Men premieres Sunday at 9 PM on AMC.