January 16, 2021

By BRENDAN DALEY

The return of smoking, highballs and sex to the tele- vision screen can only mean one thing – the mad men (and women) of AMC are back.

That’s right. The staff of the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) is back after a lengthy hiatus. As leading man Jon Hamm put it on the Late Show, the program’s 2011 absence was due to billionaires fighting (more politely, contract negotia- tions between producer and creator Matthew Weiner, AMC and Lionsgate — the show’s production company).

The Saturday prior to the show’s March 25 season pre- miere had both critics and fanatics curious as to the direction in which Weiner would take the fifth season.

Mad Men madness stormed the Internet as fans tried to predict timeframes, the future of SCDP and, of course, what lie ahead for Don Draper.

In true Weiner style, not the slightest bit of informa- tion was leaked. Even Hamm, who was scolded for letting details slip in the past, was tight-lipped.

As predicted by many crit- ics, the season premiere was slow – some might even say boring. However, with a year off between seasons, it was nice to catch up with the characters – the walk before you jog mentality.

The season premiere served as a “catcher upper” for those who may have had trouble remembering season five.

Interestingly, the staff will face new issues as they enter the latter half of the 1960s. Weiner managed to throw racism into the mix of already existing sexism and homophobia, raising the question of whether Mad Men’s happy-go-lucky atti- tude will continue to exist.

The former Betty Draper returned to the screen during the second, April 1, episode. With some uncertainty regarding how writers would incorporate January Jones’ real-life pregnancy into the plot, they managed to sur- prise audiences with a shock- ing twist (Spoiler: is that a tumour on your neck Betty, or do you just need to lay off the cake?).

Without giving any more away, I urge you to check out Mad Men. It has all the drama of a soap opera, but is much less feminine. With a seven-figure audience draw for the season premiere – second to AMC’s Walking Dead – fix yourself a strong drink and check it out.

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 p.m.