Mad Men

AMC

Ladies and gentletubers, this summer's Television Critics Association Press Tour has begun at the Beverly Hills Hilton, and I'll be bringing you news and scoop from the panels and the parties. And to start this Wednesday off right, AMC hosted a Mad Men panel featuring the show's stars along with creative mastermind Matt Weiner.

Click in to find out Weiner's master plan for the series and more...

In Soviet Russia, the Story Tells You: Just like the Ruskies once did, Matt Weiner has a five-year plan in store for us all. Every episode typically covers a month of the year, but he worked out a significant jump forward for season two, because having the long lapse between the end of this season and the next means that "all of these events that happened in between [the two dates]" provided a lot of additional storytelling opportunities. And, ironically, even though in season two the characters have grown older and the '60s have progressed forward, Matt Weiner said, "They do seem more innocent." Hmmm...

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: According to Weiner, episode two, in which Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) experiences a major tragedy, "The second episode is about the experience that people have—for all the people in the characters in that episode—about how you're supposed to react, how you should react. The word should is 100 times in that script." In this context, Matt also talked about how "maybe I'm a monster" but he didn't have a head over heels reaction to his first newborn (like they say you should), but he grew into it later. Hmmm...I wonder if that experience has had any influence on Peggy's baby storyline?

Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Carin Baer/AMC

Don and Peggy Forever: Am I the only one envisioning a series finale set in the present day, where Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) is being honored as a pioneering ad woman whose groundbreaking work made her a legend in the industry? Anybody? No? OK, well at least Jon Hamm (Don Draper) seems to agree. "I think he sees in Peggy a lot of what he admires in a coworker or colleague or person to be trusted. That's fairly high praise from someone like Don." Indeed. (Don't-Get-No-Respect Pete would give his eye teeth for it!)

No. Corsets. Ever: The ladies of Mad MenJanuary Jones, Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss—were in agreement that being in costumer Janie Bryant's period-perfect clothes has ruined the '60s look for them forever. Christina worries that if she wears something with a '60s flair (including something designed just this season), "People will think I'm in costume." As for Elisabeth, since being on the series, "I don't want to go vintage shopping. Ever." Hee.

Sneak Peek: Before the panel began, we were treated to the following scene from the premiere:

As it opens, Don Draper is paging through Meditations on an Emergency, the title of a poem that begins with, "Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde?" (Mad Men book club anybody?)

Salvatore and Peggy enter. They're working on a campaign for Mohawk Airlines. When Don sees what they've mocked up, he immediately asks, "Where's Dale?" Salvatore informs Don that "he's sick," in a tone that communicates clearly (to me at least) that Dale is hungover like you would not believe.

Peggy and Don begin debating the taglines. "Where are you going?" and "Come away with us" are rejected as being obvious and uninvolving. Don peers more closely at the sketch and whips out a wax pencil and puts a red box around the little girl running toward her father as he arrives on the tarmac. He says that's the hook.

Peggy wants more flash and less innocence. "Sex sells," she says. Don: "Says who? The people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this...They are completely unaware that their success depends on something more than their shoeshine...You are the product. You, feeling something, that's what sells. Not sex...They can't do what we do, and they hate us for it."

Peggy absorbs this lesson and comes back with this idea, in the little girl's voice, "Welcome back, Daddy." No wait, she revises herself: "What did you bring me, Daddy?" Don, Sal and Peggy reach a silent agreement that this is their new tack for the campaign. Sal gathers up the layouts, and Peggy bustles efficiently out of Don's office.

Hey look, everybody, Mad Men is back (and it's apparently deeper than ever)! Season two premieres Sunday, July 27 at 10 p.m. on AMC.

—Reporting by Jennifer Godwin

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