[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the Season 7 premiere of Mad Men. Read at your own risk.]
"Are you ready? Because I want you to pay attention. This is the beginning of something."
Yes, Matthew Weiner, you have our attention. The Mad Men creator kicked off the first half of his advertising drama's final season speaking directly to the audience through the mouth of recurring character Freddie Rumsen (Joel Murray). But it was the next line of Freddie's Don Draper-quality pitch for Accutron watches that reveals what seems to truly be on Mad Men's mind for this episode — and perhaps the remainder of the series.
"Do you have time to improve your life?"
That's certainly a question we imagine Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has been asking himself lately...
The times are always a-changin' on Mad Men.
But as the AMC drama kicks off the first half of its final season (Sunday, 10/9c), the show's focus will be on how much (or how little) the characters have grown during the near-decade viewers have been following them. "[This season] is about the consequences in life and if change is possible," creator Matthew Weiner says. "There is a real growth over this last season from what are the material concerns of your life to what are the immaterial concerns."
Spring TV: Get scoop on your favorite returning shows
Last season focused on ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm) repeating the mistakes of his past with even more serious consequences. Although Don seems to be truly committed to doing things differently in the early going of the new season, will that make a difference? In other words: Is true change possible, or is it the attempt to change that matters?
"That is the question," Weiner says...
And so the unnecessarily long goodbye begins for AMC's breakout, breakthrough signature series Mad Men, its final 14 hours being unconscionably broken into two halves over two years, starting Sunday at 10/9c. (Yes, it worked for Breaking Bad, but this isn't that kind of show.) While prolonging the inevitable, and potentially blunting whatever narrative momentum still exists in a most inelegant and desperate-seeming way, it's no wonder the often dazzling opening episode — titled "Time Zones," in a nod to the firm's now-bicoastal focus — is so preoccupied with time.
Christina Hendricks and Debra Birnbaum
It was supposed to be just another day at the office — except the office was Sterling Cooper & Partners, and I had stepped into a time machine.
Jon Hamm's Don Draper has never been an easy man to like, much less love — and Mad Men's previous season saw him burning nearly every bridge in his life, with his partners, his wife, even his daughter. But with just 14 episodes left to find Don's (un)happy ending, notoriously evasive creator/showrunner Matthew Weiner sat down with us in his spacious, well-appointed Los Angeles office to discuss the future of Sterling Cooper & Partners, the pressure of writing the finale — and the possibility of a spinoff.
Lena Headey, Jon Hamm, Lana Parrilla
Every week, senior reporter Natalie Abrams satisfies your need for TV scoop. Please send all questions to email@example.com or tweet them to @NatalieAbrams
Please share something Game of Thrones-related. — Rosie
HBO has already foreshadowed the royal wedding between King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell this season, but fear not: These nuptials will be far more civilized than last year's traumatic Red Wedding. Still, there will be barbs thrown thanks to those quarrelsome Lannisters. In particular, Cersei doesn't respect the arranged marriage — or her new queen — and will make quick work of publicly undermining her authority.
I need some Mad Men scoop! Will Don be back in the office? — Dino
The latest batch of Mad Men cast photos may not give us any more details about the upcoming season, but they sure are fun!
Exclusive: Check out more Season 7 Mad Men cast photos!
The new photos feature a pensive Don (Jon Hamm), a super-sassy Sally (Kiernan Shipka) and a typical Roger Sterling (John Slattery), who would rather be drinking than working.
Plus: To whom is Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) giving the side-eye?
Jon Hamm and Jessica Pare
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is famously tight-lipped when it comes to spilling the beans about his Emmy-winning AMC drama. And as he heads into the show's final season, he's making no exceptions: If you want to know this season's timeframe and what his characters are up to, you'll have to watch.
Jimmy Fallon, Jon Hamm in background
Visitors to New York City's Top of the Rock — the roof deck of 30 Rockefeller Center, which offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline — were in for a treat recently, when Jimmy Fallon and Mad Men star Jon Hamm teamed up to photobomb the unsuspecting sightseers as part of a Tonight Show prank.
There's apparently no love lost between former spouses Elisabeth Moss and Fred Armisen.
In a new interview with New York Magazine, Moss calls her eight-month marriage to the former Saturday Night Live cast member "traumatic."