“There’s something about an Aqua Velva man”

March 23, 2012 – Forget the NCAA tournament. The real March Madness begins on Sunday, when the long-awaited 5th season of “Mad Men” returns to television.

After a year and a half wait, fans will finally get to catch up with the quintessential Aqua Velva man, advertising extraordinaire Don Draper, and his family and office mates.

When last we saw Draper and the gang, it was 1965. Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce had to fight for survival after the loss of the Lucky Strike cigarette account, Joan announced her pregnancy (with Roger’s baby), Betty’s second marriage was falling to pieces, and Don had asked his secretary to marry him after witnessing how well she handled his children.

We won’t know for sure how much time has passed for the characters until Sunday night, but rumor has it that it’s now 1967. In real time it’s been 17 months – way too long – and that is something that concerns the show’s creator Matthew Weiner. With so much time passing in between seasons, he worries that viewers won’t come back. But the cast is remarkably talented and unique, and coupled with excellent writing, “Mad Men” is a huge favorite, so he probably has nothing to worry about.

If you haven’t seen the show yet, you’re missing great TV. They’ve been showing reruns on AMC to build up to the season five premier, but even if you’ve missed those too, there’s no reason why you can’t begin watching now. They always provide a nice recap in the beginning, which won’t get you completely up to speed, but will lay the foundation.

Actor Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper, normally gets most of the attention, but the cast is a true an ensemble, which makes it difficult to pick a favorite. One character who definitely stands out is Kiernan Shipka, the young actress who plays Don’s daughter, Sally. Though too little screen time is given to the talented child star, she’s believable and impressive when she is on. Not only did she played the troubled child to perfection in seasons past, especially when her grandfather passed away, but she captured the pre-teen years perfectly last season, challenging both her mother and father. I especially loved when her father managed to score her Beatle’s tickets. Her screams, when he gave them to her, were a delight to behold.

I saw Shipka interviewed a few years back, and she presents herself as a mature and grounded child. She mentioned that although she plays the part of Sally Draper in “Mad Men”, her parents won’t let her watch it because they feel she’s too young. Now that she’s a few years older (she was 7 when the show premiered and is now 12), perhaps we will see more of her on screen, and she’ll be allowed to see the fruits of her labor.

Sunday night, 9 p.m. ET/PT, AMC, two-hour premier. Be there or be square. (That’s sixties lingo for must see TV).

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