Mad Men 4.1 – Ladies and Gentlemen, The Scrappy Upstarts!

“Who is Don Draper?”

Those are the first words we hear when “Mad Men” returns for its fourth season, but it’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard the question asked. This time, though, it’s coming from a journalist who’s interviewing Don and trying to wrap his head around his subject. The question, as you would expect, thoroughly flummoxes Don, but he recovers nicely, turning his instinctual expression of concern about the query into one of mild annoyance, then firing back, “What do men say when you ask that?” As it turns out, he actually is kind of annoyed by the question, though it quickly becomes evident that it’s mostly because he just plain doesn’t like talking about himself. He’s not used to being on a firing line like this one, and if he had his way, he’d clearly avoid it altogether. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be an option in this new scenario in which he finds himself. The members of this new firm have to promote both the company and themselves…and, yes, that includes you, too, Don.

In a moment of perfect timing, the interview wraps up just as Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell walk up to the table. Pete’s clearly just as obsequious as ever (“We’re grateful for your sacrifice”), and Roger, it seems, has been spending some time on a book. His memoirs…? He doesn’t clarify. He does, however, offer up a trademark zinger within the first three minutes of the episode, so it’s clear that this is, at least to a certain extent, the same old Sterling that we left at the end of Season 3. It does appear that he may be drinking a bit more, however. This is a slightly impressive accomplishment, given that his alcohol intake was rather heroic to begin with, but it’s never a good thing to use booze as a crutch, so I’d expect that we’ll see more of this development sooner than later. Is Roger on track to become this year’s Freddie Rumsen?

Don, Roger, and Pete meet with a new client: Jantzen, who – according to the stats they cite during the meeting – maintain 25% of the bathing suit market. They’ve got some concerns that need addressing, and once again, we see Don’s limited tolerance for current goings-on. You know, when a client says, “I’m getting tired of saying this today,” you’d think most people would have the tact not to respond, “Next time, just have one meeting.” They also probably wouldn’t openly mock the client’s delicate sensibilities and their position that the inherent sexiness of a bikini is somehow diminished if you simply refer to it as a two-piece bathing suit. But, then, Don didn’t get where he is in the ad game by keeping his opinions to himself, now, did he?

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Mad Men: Season 4 – A Preview

God love you, Matthew Weiner.

Everyone in the free world is chomping at the bit to find out what’s going to happen when your show, “Mad Men,” returns to AMC on July 25th to kick off its 4th season, and all you’re willing to leak to the press is this nine-word description:

Don makes a mistake that jeopardizes the new agency.

Give the man credit: he’s dedicated to keeping as many surprises under wraps as he possibly can…and, as regular readers of Premium Hollywood know by now, I’m not going to be the one who breaks his trust by giving you the scoop on what happens during the season premiere. I will, however, say this: yes, I’ve seen it, and, yes, you will very much feel that it’s been worth waiting for.

If you weren’t watching “Mad Men” during its third season…well, the statute of limitations has probably expired on us giving you crap for that, but since Season 3 has been out on DVD since March 23rd, you really have no excuse for not having played catch-up by now. Still, for those of you who’ve been busy and feel as though you could do with a refresher course, I suppose we could help you out on that front.

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A Look at “Mad Men: Season 4”

And we mean that literally: we just received a collection of photos which AMC released in conjunction with the screener of the first episode of Season 4.

I’m not going to have my ass handed to me for spilling any secrets of about Season 4, so don’t go looking for any spoilers, but here’s a bit of text from AMC’s press release to keep you going ’til July 25th:

“Mad Men” riveted audiences with a cliffhanger finale in season three, as Don Draper’s professional and personal lives unexpectedly imploded. This season, the series’ breakout ensemble cast continues to captivate as they grapple with an uncertain new reality.

In season three, “Mad Men’s” unflinching look at the human condition continued as characters faced the realities of dramatic change in the country – from the birth of civil rights to the assassination of a president – and in their personal lives. Whether it was corporate politics, homophobia in the workplace or the frustration of betrayal, they dealt with an unsettling loss of the familiar. Audiences were stunned by the self-destruction of protagonist Don Draper, including a confrontation with wife Betty that forced him to reveal the truth about his past and identity, and the resale of Sterling Cooper by British parent company Putnam, Powell and Lowe (PPL), which left its partners on the brink of a new beginning.

The consequences of the shattering secrets exposed in season three will continue to reverberate in “Mad Men’s” fourth season, as the lives of the men and women of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce continue to evolve. As relationships are redefined and people are forced to face themselves and the world around them in new ways, the series will continue to question the traditional norms and the simmering societal frustrations between women and men with compelling storylines and resonant moments that are sure to enthrall as the new season unfolds.

Check out the photos after the jump!

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