Mixed Reviews For 'Mad Men' Season 4

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It doesn't premiere for another week, but reviews for the fourth season of AMC's acclaimed (and polarizing) "Mad Men" are already starting to trickle in. Here's what TV's chattering class has to say:

  • Genius is the only word that does Matthew Weiner's work justice writes Heather Havrilesky of Salon, a long time "Mad Men" booster.

This is the genius of 'Mad Men,' its dramatic reenactment of the disconnect between the dream of dashing heroes and their beautiful wives, living in style among adorable, adoring children, and the much messier reality of struggling to play a predetermined role without an organic relationship to your surroundings or to yourself. We're drawn to 'Mad Men' week after week because each and every episode asks us, What's missing from this pretty picture?"

  • A Return To Form If the first episode of season four is any indication, writes Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times, Weiner has finally heeded the most common criticism of the show and is scaling back on scenes involving the home lives of his ad men. The office, Stanley says, is "where 'Mad Men' started and where it was best. A fresh start at the rat race is just what the series needs."
  • The Beginning of the End? Unlike Stanley, TV Squad's Joel Keller isn't sure Weiner's changes have been for the best.

"[T]hat's what scares me about this season premiere. There are some genuinely funny moments in the episode, many of them involving Peggy, who seems to have grown up before everyone's eyes. But much of the deep introspection that has made the show a must-watch wasn't there. Not saying it won't be there in future episodes, but now that the worlds of 'Mad Men' are being split even more than they have in the past -- Betty's world with Henry, Don and the new firm, Don dealing with his new life, possible interactions with the old Sterling Cooper -- there's a worry there that Weiner will fall into the trap of focusing on all the changes and not what made the show one of the best on TV for the last three years."

  • Promising But Problematic Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik thinks the show has to do a better job maintaining its historical balancing act. "I fell out of love with this series last year after the flawed history it offered on Baltimore's London Fog in the first episode," admits Zurewik. "I am liking this year better with Draper's back against the wall, and him fighting for his personal and professional life. But I still wonder about the social history. I feel like creator Matthew Weiner abused the personal histories of London Fog's founder and the founder's son. That's hard to forgive."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.