The '60s period drama "Mad Men" finally returned for its fifth season after an unusual 17-month hiatus on Sunday, March 25th. The long break was replete with contract disputes and some typical off-screen Hollywood drama, but it didn’t cool the slow burn of the show’s steamy plot or quell any fan interest.
While many of the show's fans waited anxiously for the show to return, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner has been hard at work since the middle of 2011.
"I went back to work last May so I haven't been away from it as long as the audience has," said Weiner. "I have the unique pleasure this time of being done with the season when it goes on the air and its really exciting to finally roll it out there and see people get excited."
Sunday’s season premiere drew 3.5 million viewers - the largest audience for the show to-date. This growing popularity has made Weiner one of the hottest names in the business.
Weiner wrote the original draft for "Mad Men" in 2000, and the script led to his first success as a writer and producer on the wildly popular HBO mob drama, "The Sopranos." He eventually pitched "Mad Men" to AMC when the network began to produce original programming. The show first aired in 2007 and has gone on to win four Emmy awards for best drama series.
The critically acclaimed drama centers on a fictional Madison Avenue advertising agency and uses its characters to reflect the radical cultural shifts of America in the 1960’s. Even though Weiner was just a child during the era depicted in the show -- he was born in 1965 -- he has always felt an affinity for the era in which his parents lived.
"There was a standard of mass culture that was very high and I became very interested in the film and style and the golden age of television that was in this period," said Weiner. "I grew up sort of seeing the baby boom '60s generation run the world and run my world and they had lost a great deal of their idealism… I somehow found myself identifying with their parents and was curious about what it was like to live through that."
So what can "Mad Men" fans expect from this season? Weiner isn't offering any spoilers, but he is hoping that audiences are surprised at how the characters grow this time around.
"I think that people are going to be surprised about what the season is about, I think its all laid out there and it may have looked like a gentle start, but there is change afoot," he said. "Hopefully they'll be able to experience change in these people's lives the way actually change happens in life… its almost unnoticed."
Weiner has plans for another two seasons of "Mad Men" and is set to begin production on his feature film directorial debut, “You Are Here,” in May, 2012.
What is your favorite aspect of "Mad Men"? The costumes? The pillow talk? The historical references? The scotch?
Matthew Weiner, television writer, director and producer; creator of Mad Men