AMC's 'Mad Men' gets return date, plus Matthew Weiner talks season 6

MADMEN-CAST

Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

The Don of a new season will soon be upon us: Mad Men returns to AMC on April 7 at 9 p.m., the network confirmed today. Season 6 of the Madison-Avenue-in-the-’60s drama kicks off with a two-hour premiere, written by series creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner and directed by executive producer Scott Hornbacher. (Starting April 14, the show will air in its normal time slot of 10 p.m.) EW spoke briefly with Weiner, and while the showrunner was typically tight-lipped on plot details, he did offer up a few choice quotes to chew on:

On the double-sized premiere: “If you like the show, there’s a good chance you’ll like the premiere…. It is different than last year’s in a sense that it was my idea and I was just trying to give bang for a buck to an audience that I didn’t want to lose because we’d been away for so long. This year it’s really constructed like a film. It is its own story and hopefully it foreshadows the rest of the season…. You should know what happened at the end of last season before you see the episode. The whole season is in reference to last season.”

On this season’s themes: “We’re at the next stage of their lives and I think you really feel that… There’s an attempt to explore an internal dynamic. I’m sure there’s some version of it in the previous five [seasons], but I want to acknowledge the fact that the audience knows this man very well, so what he does is never going to surprise them. How he does it and why he does it should surprise them.”

On what kind of resolution, if any, we immediately get on last season’s cliffhanger, in which Don (Jon Hamm) was presented with an opportunity to stray in his marriage and return to his old ways: “What do you know about Don? He spent a season trying to have a domestic situation that is more familiar to most of us than his previous ones. He was in the glow of that marriage and interestingly enough — and it hasn’t really been commented on much other than from audience members that I talk to — Megan’s (Jessica Pare) independence was really a disappointment for him. It really changed his fantasy of what that relationship would be. Is he threatened by it? Is that the thing that drives him to be unfaithful? I don’t know. I felt like from “Tomorrowland” on, when Don asked Megan to marry him at the end of season 4, there was this strange shift where the audience felt like they were on the outside of him again. They thought he was going to pick Dr. Fay (Cara Buono). They thought he was dealing with psychological demons. He was trying to stop drinking. And all of the sudden he asked Megan to marry him in this very impulsive way and he had this goofy smile on his face, and they’re like, ‘I don’t know him anymore.’  A lot of last season was told from the outside of Don, seeing him try to act like the person who was in that relationship. And there was supposed to be something about that last moment of [the finale] where Don turns to the camera where you are back on the inside with him and I can say that it is an internal story this season. It’s what I’m interested in this point.”

On how much time will have passed when the story resumes: “It’s more than a week, I’ll tell you that.”

On how the looming end of the series has impacted his creative process for the 13-hour season 6: “My thinking did change, and I was really starting to think in terms of the last 26 episodes together, and there was a story intervention done by my executive producers Maria and Andre (Jacquemetton) where they were like, ‘You have to deal with it one season at a time, or the show’s going to be very, very tedious. You just have to give everything you have. That’s what you’ve done every season.’ So I can say whether I’m painting myself into a corner or not, everything that I have at my fingertips — other than [the scene] I’ve been asked about that’s for the very end of the series – is in the show this year. It wasn’t my instinct. Because I can feel the end coming. I also felt like I’m not going to do 13 episodes of set-up; it should set itself up as it goes, as it always does. We also realized we had a really good story for Don that may change him irrevocably, but that might be part of the story also…. The season is about Don, and I made a commitment to tell a full story, no matter what the consequences are.”

“With the shadow of the show ending — and with the world in the state that it’s in, which is far more important than the show —  the writers and the actors and I have been able to get into a groove about a season that may be accidentally relevant just because it was in our minds. We’ve been taking advantage of the 26 episodes we have left to do all the things that we’ve wanted to do, and so far I think that the audience is in for quite a ride.”

Read more:
‘Mad Men': John Slattery, Jon Hamm to direct episodes in season 6
Aloha, Don and Megan! New photos reveal ‘Mad Men’ in Hawaii

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