US critics have high hopes for Mad Men final episodes

Series creator Matthew Weiner ensures plot details aren't leaked as first episode is screened, but from what the US critics can tell us, Don Draper et al will bow out with aplomb

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After a mid-season break of an entire year, the seventh and final series of Mad Men is almost upon us. Critics in the US have had a sneak peek of the first episode as Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss et al steer us towards the final conclusion. While journalists are given strict ‘do not reveal’ instructions from series creator Matthew Weiner – controlling what they can and can’t divulge before the series airs – what they are able to tell us is that the stellar cast is leading us towards a well thought-out, smart finale. 

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“Series creator Matthew Weiner need not go out with a bang of fireworks or some finale that makes everybody happy,” writes the Hollywood Reporter. “He just needs to maintain the highest standards that have inched Mad Men to this place in the pantheon in the first place.

“Like the previous seven episodes, there’s no evidence at all that Weiner or the series will stumble in that regard. Mad Men remains, for the viewers who have embraced it the most fervently, a richly rewarding, wholly excellent work of fiction.”

The Indie Wire uses a suitable Don Draper-esque metaphor to explain its thoughts: “This far into Season 7 — including the stellar first seven episodes of last year — Matthew Weiner has created the perfect cocktail for fans. Familiar yet exciting, progressive but repetitious, Mad Men still tastes like an Old Fashioned, but with a twist that makes you eager to get to the bottom.”

Variety too considers how the cast will wave off this influential series: “Granted, despite hype that AMC is understandably eager to stoke, Mad Men isn’t the sort of series that lends itself to an overly dramatic conclusion. A guy like its protagonist, ad-man supreme Don Draper (Jon Hamm), doesn’t go out in a hail of bullets, but rather alone in a smoke-filled room, suggesting the close should be marked by more of a whisper than a bang.”

For the New York Daily, there’s somewhat of a dark cloud over the final episodes: “The unsettled feeling on the screen is also distinct from the wistful resignation of viewers who know that some of TV’s sharpest characters are about to leave us […] But it can safely be said that we’re not sailing into these last episodes like kids cruising in muscle cars with the tops down.”

Elsewhere there’s unease with how the series has progressed, with the Baltimore Sun writing: “I think it might be the tension between what the series has become and what Weiner is falsely trying to sell it as being. It’s there in one of the first scenes featuring a Don in a tuxedo. No reason for him to actually be a in a tuxedo, except the Brooks Brothers sell: Mad Men as a glossy magazine.

“But wait, there’s a waitress in the scene and she’s reading John Dos Passos. Oh, and Roger comments on it — just in case anyone misses the reference — proving what literary television this is. The genius of Mad Men might be in how it allows some viewers to engage at the level of leafing through the New York Times Sunday magazine looking only at the ads, and feeling like they are engaged in some kind of deep cultural conversation. I will hazard a guess that Weiner is going to try in these last seven episodes to save the soul of Mad Men.

“But looking at the season opener, I think it’s too late. Once you sell your artistic soul to the devil of advanced consumerism, you don’t get the chance to buy it back at legacy time.”

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It’s not long until you get to make your own mind up, with Sky Atlantic welcoming series seven part 2 from April 9th at 10pm.