Mad Men: Season Seven Preview
1969. While Mankind took a giant leap on the Moon, Don Draper coolly disembarks from a plane. That's right, in under a week the seventh season of Mad Men will be upon us. With the show's creator and executive producer, Matthew Weiner, typically keeping schtum on spoilers there is next to nothing that is public knowledge about the upcoming episodes but that cannot prevent a bit of guesswork on our part.
What we do know for certain is that this is the final season which will be split into two. This is a conscious decision to ramp up tension and thus viewing figures which worked terrifically well for AMC with Breaking Bad. There will be 14 episodes in total with the first half entitled 'The Beginning' with the concluding half coming in 2015 which will be called 'The End of An Era'.
With AMC playing the tease we also have a couple of clues as to what the final season should include.
If the promotional poster is anything to go HDTV's will be put to full use. Put simply, it seems that the delicious monochrome that has typified the show to date will be pushed aside by the vivid colours of the late 1960's. The image of a reclining Don Draper casually smoking a cigarette is familiar enough yet your eyes are drawn away by a rich collage of green, red, blue and yellow. A woman's face and a wine glass being filled indicate more alcohol-fuelled debauchery and maybe even more mind-altering drugs (remember Roger's acid trip in season 5's 'Far Away Places'?).
As ever, the show's producers have shown their excellent taste by recruiting renowned graphic artist Milton Glaser. This is the man responsible for the iconic 'I heart NY' slogan in 1977 and more recently the Brooklyn Brewery logo so he is a great fit for the show and Weiner has been hoping to work with him for some time. Regarding the poster, Weiner told The New York Times; "There is a dreamlike quality to it, and believe it or not, it is related to the show and not because it's psychedelic. This is related to the late '60s, which is all I will say about it. It maintains the idea that this is somehow going on in Don Draper's mind, which is what the story is always about and what the back of his head is about on some level." Which really does not give much away.
As ever the costume designers are proving that they have their finger on the pulse when it comes to fashion with some eye-catching outfits which were revealed in the cast photos. The men continue with sharp, tailored suits yet the women take a leap in some powerful outfits. There is Betty Francis in a sleek black, white and pink lined top, Sally in a 'painful if you stare at it too long' brightly floral shift. Megan is in a riot of colours with a Pucci-inspired top and ravishing red tights while Joan has opted for a classical rose-coloured outfit. Of the boys there is little to note apart from a Mod Harry Crane complete with neck scarf and the sort of curved haircut typically seen on a Ken doll.
A short teaser trailer has been released with Don simply stepping out of a plane into warm sunshine and putting a hat on. Little can be gained from that yet promo images have continued with the airplane theme. One shows Peggy and Don in an airport lounge, another of Megan and Don with luggage at an international airport, the creative team picking their seats aboard a plane, etc. This could mean a couple of things; either international business or adding a airliner to their list of clients. Being bold it would be wise to go with the latter as a closer look gives Trans World Airlines a significant presence. In 1969, TWA was the third biggest airline and had also recently built a new concourse lounge at JFK. Hint hint. Could Don be sidelining Mohawk in favour of a shot at one of the big boys? Furthermore, if the entire creative team are flying out then this may indicate a shift in scenery as they could well be heading to the agency's office in LA. Don could also move out there in the hope of aiding Megan's acting career.
1969 is best known as the year when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. Back on Planet Earth it was also a year marked by anti-war protests as opposition to US troops in Vietnam continued to grow. This was largely the year of a youthful anti-establishment fervour finding its voice, a notion that an advertising agency would be expected to seize upon. Just as the shooting of JFK made it's way into the script, Woodstock could be thrown in as a barometer of public feeling and the burgeoning of counterculture. Finally, the free concert headlined by The Rolling Stones at Altamont in Northern California was the most high profile example of uncontrollable violence in an event that many viewed marked the end of the 60's.
At the end of season six SCDP merged with CGC yet it was unclear then how the arrangement worked. What will the agency now be called? Who has the final say on creative decisions? Will anyone stand up to Don? Will they all get all along? You would hope that this could be settled early on.
The waiting is almost over, season seven of Mad Men begins on Sky Atlantic on Sunday 13th April.