[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."
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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.
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.