Saturday, April 13, 2024

“Mad Men” Returns Tonight But AMC Almost Blew It After the 4th Season


“Mad Men” comes back tonight for its final 7 episodes. But the show almost ended completely back in the winter of 2011. After the fourth season ended, the show was renewed by AMC, but they had no agreement with series creator Matt Weiner.

The ordeal dragged on from mid January through April 1, 2011. “Mad Men” missed its start date for a 5th season. The result was an almost 18 month break between seasons. Lower ratings ensued despite the show being better than ever.

But AMC was to networks what the old American Motors Corporation was to automobiles. You’ll note, they are not around anymore. AMC was just lucky: HBO passed on “Mad Men,” and they were the default place to go. “Breaking Bad” broke out behind “Mad Men,” and AMC got its watered down sequel “Better Call Saul.” “Walking Dead” is their last shot, and if they’re not careful, well…

AMC put fans, Weiner, and the “Mad Men” cast and crew through an unnecessary wait in 2011. And it was weird. Weiner didn’t hear from them for months. They had the hottest show on TV and didn’t really care. Since that time, most of the AMC team that brought their three hit shows to the air are said to be gone.

The 2011 break delivered “Mad Men” its fourth Emmy in a row that fall for Best Drama. But “Mad Men” has never earned a single acting Emmy. Jon Hamm has been nominated over and over but never won. John Slattery has been screwed over 7 times. Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks, ditto. It doesn’t seem possible. But overall the show has a record for being the Susan Lucci of Drama shows. AMC has never been able to pull off a win for any actor.

Not a lot happens on tonight’s show– I’ll write about it when it ends. It’s more about time and tempo than plot. Don is getting his divorce from Megan and running into old girlfriends (Maggie Siff). Peggy’s trying to get her life together. At Sterling Cooper, Ken is getting the last laugh. Fans will love it. But it leaves just six episodes to wrap up the show. We’ll see if AMC can give it the same organic send off “Breaking Bad” had.

Tonight’s song is Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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