April 11, 2014
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'Mad Men' season 7: Will Don Draper go out on a high note?
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency

Time waits for no man, nor does it wait for Mad Men.

That has made things harder, not easier, for Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner.

The acclaimed retro series begins its seventh and final season, Sunday, April 13 on AMC. As AMC did with Breaking Bad, the last season of Mad Men is being split in half, seven episodes in 2014 and seven episodes in 2015. They've dubbed it “seven and seven,” which will be amusing to all you Don Draper and Roger Sterling wannabe drinkers out there.

When Mad Men began back in 2007, it was set in 1960. I remember having a discussion with Weiner, in which he indicated the era was crucial. Not a lot of stuff in recent times had been set in the early '60s, because the early '60s were complicated. It was a forgotten era for entertainment purposes, and Weiner saw an opportunity.

He obviously seized upon that opportunity, with Mad Men becoming one of the most critically acclaimed shows in the history of television. It became the first cable series to win the Emmy Award for best drama, and just to drive home the point, it did so four years in a row.

But as the seasons have passed, Mad Men obviously has moved into the late 1960s. I won't tell you where season seven begins, because that would be considered a spoiler, but if you watched season six, you know that the last time we saw Don (Jon Hamm), Roger (John Slattery) and the rest of the gang, it was late 1968.

The thing is, the late '60s are a much more cliched era. In the early seasons of Mad Men, audiences watched and felt they were learning something – not in a finger-wagging way, but in a highly entertaining way – about a very cool world that previously was virtually unknown to them. The seeds of the late '60s were being sown. But as for the late '60s fully formed, we all know about hippies and flower power and the sexual revolution and long hair and LSD.

It's just tougher for Weiner to surprise us, and that's not even remotely his fault. Hey, Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) has grown up. Mad Men couldn't stay locked in time. But knowing how fanatically Weiner would want to avoid predictability, I'll bet tackling the late '60s has led to a few sleepless nights for him.

Just as a reminder of where Mad Men left off in season six (SPOILER ALERT if you're behind): Don was out of a job; Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) was sitting in Don's office, head cocked to resemble the iconic Mad Men logo, but she was bitter that the man she was having an affair with, Ted (Kevin Rahm), was moving to California; Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) was moving to California to get a fresh start, too; Don's wife Megan (Jessica Pare) also had her mind set on moving to California, and openly was wondering why she and Don even were trying to save their marriage; Sally still was angry with her dad Don after catching him having sex with the neighbour; and Joan (Christina Hendricks) still was dating Bob (James Wolk), much to Roger's chagrin.

It's the late '60s, man, on Mad Men. The paths and surroundings may seem more familiar to us. But it's still up to Weiner to make Mad Men's final season both crisp and groovy.


Twitter: @billharris_tv

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