What’s up with Don and the secretary he proposed to, Megan? No, don’t say.
Did Joan have Roger’s baby? Hush.
What’s going to happen to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce without the Lucky Strike account? Shut up about that.
“I know you are aware how strongly I feel that the viewers are entitled to have the same experience you’ve just had,” wrote Weiner, who has four consecutive Best Drama Emmys now (one too many, in my opinion) and has raised cultural alertness for “Mad Men” once again to an all-time high: Check out the retro-designed issue of the latest Newsweek. Pass the windows of any Banana Republic, still pushing its “Mad Men” clothing line and retrofied style dream. Ignoring “Mad Men’s” throwback zeitgeist is, as ever, difficult work. The attention to detail, for which the show is deservedly praised, has apparently extended into how journalists may write about it. It’s as if all of elite television watching hangs in the balance — and perhaps it does.
I’m not here to spoil “Mad Men” but I am, like many, beating around for something new to say about it. The show exasperates me, even bores me sometimes, and yet it is always difficult to look away. It’s my least favorite TV series that I never miss an episode of. If that makes sense.
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. “What is wrong with you people?” asks Megan Draper (née Calvet, Don’s new wife) during a tiff with her nominal new boss, Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss). “You’re all so cynical. You don’t smile, you smirk.”
As Megan, the French-Canadian “sexpot” (as more than one man at Sterling Cooper refers to her) Jessica Paré has been a strong addition to the cast, and its new visual inspiration. In just a few scenes, she becomes “Mad Men’s” most watchable new asset.
The 17-month break since “Mad Men” last aired has done us all a world of good. The fatigue has been aired out, the victory laps well finished. What we’re looking at now, to borrow a technological boast from the era, is “Mad Men — in living color,” starting with Megan’s movement and la mode. The first two hours sometimes reminded me of when reruns of “My Three Sons” and “Bewitched” traverse from black-and-white into the whole chromatic array. Something is perceptibly different in shades of tangerine and pink and green.
And evidence of irretrievable change blooms all around Don Draper and company in late spring of . . . oh, what the heck. Everyone who watches the show knows “Mad Men” has worked its way up through the fall of 1965 in season 4. And what comes after that? Yes, 1966. Now you know. (Betwixt “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver,” for those of you who measure the decade that way.) A subtle vibe has turned, and there’s no going back, not since last season when Peggy passed through a pot-clouded party in the New York underground art scene.