July 25th, 2010
03:29 PM ET

Let the ‘Mad’-ness begin

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?

Filed under: television

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Jeffrey

    Sorry about that. Meant to say I watched Season 4 premiere. And to Kat I say a well-written show should let you drop in whenever and it still feel natural. I don't think watching Season 3 would make me feel the overdone reactions of Don and the suddenly upbeat perky personality of Peggy are any more legitimate. It felt like the actors were ACTING far more than they used to unfortunately. And the writing felt more clunky. I'll give it another episode or two and see if it improves. Hope so.

    July 26, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Drew Andrews

      Can't say I agree with Jeffrey. Did not appear clunky or over-acted to me. Just good stuff; good dialogue, real life type emotional reactions, etc. And Peggy has a lot to be perky about. She went from being a secretary to the ground floor of an upstart ad company in the 60's. Not too shabby.

      July 26, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Drew Andrews

    I enjoyed Don's extracurricular activity with his nighttime visitor. It shows a dark side of him I truly appreciate. Let's keep it going!

    July 26, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. cha

    Of course they smoked that much in the sixties....they smoked that much in the eighties in the offices..in the airplanes...in the movie theaters...etc. Hence the current no smoking laws...

    July 26, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Holly Golightly

    I agree with Sherron, Jack and moonbeam 725! The show is authentic with its smoking. I was expecting maybe a bit more from the premiere, but I still love this show! It is the best thing on tv, and I will remain a devoted fan!!! I absolutely love John Hamm, although Don seemed a bit jerky, no? Can't wait to see what happens!!!

    July 26, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. moonbeam725

    I liked the first episode of season 4. There are a lot of changes to get used to all at once (Betty is remarried, Don is single and in an apartment, the new ad agency and the new offices, mainly) but it's still authentic early 1960's and I still love this show. It's the best thing on TV right now!

    July 26, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Alex Bravo

    Dissapointing first episode. I made myself keep watching, but I was itching to change the channel.

    July 26, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jack Martin

    C'mon people...ITS A TV SHOW – BASED ON THE SIXTIES! People smoked! Get over it!

    July 26, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sherron

    For God sakes people, the smoking is part of that era!! And YES people really did smoke that much, if you're that sensitive don't watch!!

    July 26, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Johnny C

    I was a little disappointed with the opener....I hope they dont start going down hill like the sopranos did at this point. Speaking of, I just saw this clip from of flick with Gandolfini....pretty funny....I hope you had your breakfast already.


    July 26, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry

    I am a fan, watched all the seasons on DVD. I have a queastion. Do the actors all really smoke? and if not how do they keep from being addicted? I needc to brush my teeh after each episode, I can taste the tobacco...

    July 26, 2010 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachael

      To Jerry- actors who don't smoke use herbal cigarettes, which aren't addictive or particularly harmful but give the effect needed. They really stink though!

      July 26, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      My wife and I tried watching the first 3 episodes of season 1 but there was so much constant smoking that we felt ill after each episode (no we weren't smoking ;-)). Seems a little overdone to us, and we just couldn't continue watching.

      July 26, 2010 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Kansascity53

      Actually, even those actors/actesses that smoke in real-life smoke the herbal cigarettes on the show. OSHA laws do not allow smoking on-set.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jeffrey

    I was a devoted fan of seasons one and two but missed much of season three. Just watched season four and, ouch. The acting (especially Jon Hamm's) seemed really self-aware, and the plot dreary. It seems to be trying very hard where before the cool just came effortlessly. Boy does it seem to have jumped the shark, sad to say.

    July 26, 2010 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Troll Cop

      So you've already watched all of season four, even though they're only halfway through filming it? Impressive. Thanks for the insight!

      July 26, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Maybe if you go back and watch season 3 so you'll know what's going on, your opinion may change.

      July 26, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |

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