July 25th, 2010
03:29 PM ET
If multiple critics – and the cast themselves – hadn’t already assured everyone that the return of “Mad Men” would be nothing short of great television, one could worry that the hype would outweigh the quality of season four's first episode.
“Mad Men” fans have waited eight long, dry months to get here, where the remnants of season three's fallout holds the promise of new possibilities.
As Jared Harris, who plays the swanky Brit Lane Pryce, put it in a behind-the-scenes interview, “It’s almost like this first episode is a new pilot.”
And in some respects, perhaps it is. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is the new, smaller agency that replaces the British-owned Sterling Cooper of yesteryear; Betty Draper is now Mrs. Henry Francis; and Don Draper is now a single man in the city.
For Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy on the show, the aftermath of season three mean season four just may be “the best season we’ve had."
"Matt [Weiner] took a huge risk last season in the way he ended things,” Moss told the A.V. Club, “and I think it’s really paying off.”
Weiner, the notoriously secretive creator of the series, did lend a little insight into what we can expect for season four. As it’s been widely reported, right off the bat the viewer is confronted with the question: “Who is Don Draper?”
That, Weiner told Diane Sawyer in an interview, is “the story of the season.”
“You ask that question when you’re a kid,” Weiner went on, “and if you’re lucky enough to have an education, you find out this is the big conundrum of western literature and civilization, like we’re very interested in this ‘me’ and this ‘I.’ I love that he’s facing that question and getting close to that question.”
Which, frankly, doesn’t tell us much – the audience has been asking themselves that question for the past three seasons, and we’re still inching towards an answer.
What Weiner can say is that there’ll be a new office to go along with the ad agency’s fresh start, and as for Don’s apartment, it’s like “the Marina del Ray of that time, it’s the divorced dad locale," he said. "It’s plush and it’s velvety and it’s masculine and it’s somewhat lacking in personal character."
But for all of those changes, other characteristics are comfortingly constant.
“It’s much of the same in terms of fights, philandering, [and] watching these characters struggle through their lives,” January Jones, who plays Betty Draper, said in a behind-the-scenes video.
Which is a relief – because without it, we wouldn’t be watching “Mad Men,” now would we?
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