‘Mad Men’: 4 out of 5 stars

The times are changing, and the employees of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are changing along with them. The fifth season of “Mad Men” has returned to AMC, and with four episodes in the bag this might be the most interesting season yet.

This season puts the advertising agency in the most interesting time period. Set in the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the race riots in Atlanta, the company takes some pretty huge steps such as hiring its first black secretary as well as a younger employee in the creative department to help attract teenagers and young adults.

Viewers will also be seeing the beginnings of a change of power in the company. With junior partners and younger employees taking the spotlight, we could see the founding partners take a backseat in everyday events. This is a bit worrisome since a majority of the characters from past seasons are all veterans of the agency and people still have interest in them. This change in the guard might or might not happen at the end of the season, but I do hope that we still get to see them involved in many aspects.

Although past seasons have focused on the evolution of the ad agency, the most recent episode seems to highlight more of Don Draper. For the first time we get to see his habits coming back to haunt him — womanizing and smoking in particular as evidenced by his constant coughing as well as nightmares about one of his past girlfriends. Despite everything that goes on at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and its employees, the degradation of Draper is by far the most interesting aspect that I hope will be explored more in the current season. Fans see him as the strongest person in the group, not just because he is the main character, but also because of his efforts at work. To see him in such a weak position can shake things up both in his personal and professional life.

For those who are still on the fence about watching the show, this season is a great jumping point. There might be various subplots that only fans of the show would enjoy now, but for the most part it seems like the point where the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is comfortable with its new heads and is gaining ground on clients. In addition, we are being introduced to some new faces as well as learning new things about some of the old characters. “Mad Men” has stepped up its game this year with new characters and a deeper plot for its veteran actors while still keeping its traditional smoking, drinking, sexual and cutthroat habits from the past. Needless to say, get ready for a wild and interesting on the fifth season of “Mad Men.”

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