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Posted at 05:24 PM ET, 03/22/2012

The return of ‘Mad Men’: a preparatory guide

In case you somehow missed the news over the din of “Hunger Games”-related fervor, there’s another major pop cultural event happening this weekend: the return of AMC’s “Mad Men.” Really, in a way, life at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is its own, retro version of “The Hunger Games”: “Smoke too much, imbibe excessive amounts of alcohol, allow drunkards to ride lawn mowers in the office ... and may the odds be forever in your favor.”

With Season 5 set to pick up Sunday night where Season 4 left off — specifically, with all of us wondering why the heck Don Draper proposed out of nowhere to his secretary, Megan — now is the time to do some last-minute cramming. After all, 17 months have passed since we last spent time with Don, Joan, Peggy, Pete and the rest of the existentially confused gang. Some viewers may need a primer before they dive back into the world of Roger Sterling.

And we have to dive back in, of course. Otherwise, how will we know whether to be delighted or sort of annoyed when the fifth season inevitably wins the Emmy Award for best drama?

Here are some study aids, and a couple of fun, “Mad Men”-related diversions, to prime you for Sunday’s two-hour episode, “A Little Kiss.”

Character catch-up: Struggling to recall what, exactly, was going on in Roger Sterling’s or Peggy Olson’s life when we saw them last? Allow this gallery (also pictured above) to bring you up to speed.

Retro mind-set: For those who need assistance shifting their sense of time from 2012 back to the mid-1960s, this gallery — we love a quality gallery here at The Washington Post! — of era-appropriate Post ads should put you in the proper “Mad Men” mood.

Figure out where to have cocktails: If you’re in the Washington, D.C. area, the Going Out Guide has some ideas about where to drink like Don Draper — and they don’t involve standing in your office and knocking back a Scotch at 10 a.m.

The review: All right, enough messing around. Post TV critic Hank Stuever has written a review of the first “Mad Men” episode. It contains a few minor spoilers, so forge ahead with that knowledge. Here’s a taste of what the always astute Stuever has to say: “This new season starts off strong. The contrast is sharper now — the psychological gloom within Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce clashes with the verging sense of psychedelia just beyond Madison Avenue.”

Play a choose-your-own-adventure, Atari-esque “Mad Men” game: Take a brief break from serious analysis to find out what happens when Colecovision and Don Draper collide. It’s sort of like playing the “E.T.” video game, except less annoying. Also, there’s more sex in it.

Formulate your Sunday post-show discussion plans: That’s where Celebritology comes into play. I’ll publish a post-episode analysis here in the blog — one that may or may not involve an anti-Betty Draper rant — on Sunday evening. And on Monday at 11 a.m., I’ll also host a live discussion that will allow us to parse all the details and developments from that first episode. And look, if you feel compelled to have an eye-opener while you chat, that’s totally your business.

By  |  05:24 PM ET, 03/22/2012

Tags:  Mad Men

 
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