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I Love AMC's 'Mad Men,' But Can't Tell You Why
March 19, 2012  | By David Bianculli
 
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It takes 22 months to give birth to an elephant -- so by that measure, the 17-month wait for a new season of AMC's Mad Men is no big deal. And yes, this Sunday's two-hour Season 5 premiere is worth the wait. Though there are so many secrets begging to be held here, I can't really tell you why...

Series creator Matthew Weiner sent out a letter to TV critics listing a series of questions he would prefer remain unanswered in any reviews. Several questions, including such seemingly innocuous ones as "What year is it?"

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But seeing as how last season ended with a stunner of a surprise -- Jon Hamm's Don Draper proposing marriage to Jessica Pare's Megan (at right, from last season) -- it's asking an awful lot to not reveal whether they actually went through with the marriage, or whether, since the passage of time is another open question, whether it's over already.

You can almost imagine any review of Mad Men being treated as a redacted Top Secret document. Think of big black rectangles where the juicy stuff should be. And not only the juicy stuff. Almost all of it.

Weiner, one of the best writers in television, merely wants to maximize the enjoyment for his viewers. I get that. And when I selected clips for a Mad Men review that will run this week on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, I was careful to choose and frame them in ways that didn't reveal any of the key secrets Weiner was so eager to protect.

But it doesn't leave much, except for confusion. As Season 5 begins, so much time has elapsed since the telecast of the Season 4 finale -- way back in 2010 -- that you could be forgiven that you're a stranger in a strange land, not recognizing the apartment, the office, or most of the people. And for a few disconcerting minutes, you'd be right.

But then Mad Men dips in, gets into gear, and, once again, triumphs. By the time someone holds a party for Don's 40th birthday, the series has proven, once again, how starkly, thrillingly unique it is. Everyone at the party has a perspective, a problem -- and a memorable moment.

The two-hour premiere is unveiled Sunday night at p ET on AMC. My Fresh Air review, going into some but not too much detail, will be broadcast this week on NPR. When it is, you can read and hear it HERE.

Unless, that is, Matthew Weiner has redacted the link...

 
 
 
 
 
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