MAD MEN Season 5 Premiere

The first half of this two-hour premiere is in no hurry as it re-introduces many (but by no means all) of the show’s huge cast of characters; it’s downright leisurely. Someone new to MM could be forgiven for wondering what’s the big deal. But the set-up’s brushstrokes become a fuller picture in the second hour, when we get some of the juicy scenes that we’ve loved the show for all along: Rich Sommer sweating bullets in John Slattery’s office, Jessica Pare’s sex
dance at Don’s surprise party, Christina Hendricks’ tearful
confessional with Jared Harris. The episode is heavy on what you might call Undercurrent Events — the backdrop of times-they-are-a-changin’ 60’s ferment (civil rights, women’s lib), which at the beginning is done a bit ham-handedly, but by the end is perfectly integrated with the goings on at Sterling Cooper: African-American jobseekers who show up as the result of an interagency pissing match. And as usual, exquisite art direction. A good start to the new season! — Jeff Schultz

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