It’s the beginning of the end for Don Draper, the ’60s and another quality AMC drama as Mad Men (Season Premiere, 10 p.m. Sunday) embarks on the first half of its final chapter. Like Breaking Bad, the series will reach its conclusion over the course of one divided season (seven episodes this year and seven to premiere in spring 2015).
The details surrounding each season of this show continue to be as elusive as Don himself — fans don’t even get a defined setting, though we know we left off around Thanksgiving, 1968. One prediction for the final season is SC&P’s involvement with Woodstock (August 1969). True historic events have long intertwined with Mad Men’s plot, and the famous fest was sparked by an advertisement placed in The New York Times.
Whatever their individual status, this colorful cast will be approaching the ’70s head-on, a fitting setting for Mad Men’s final season — the literal end of a decade and the figurative end to what that represents as social, political and economic change for America await in the horizon.
So much of what we love about the show — the often jarring societal differences between then and now — would have to face major shifts if the series continued much longer. And while Mad Men-like practices can still be observed today (as Obama famously referenced in this year’s State of the Union address), it’s a far cry from Don’s typical day circa 1965.
With Mad Men ending while it’s still on top, we can expect it to go out with grace and, of course, its signature style.
WEDNESDAY APRIL 9
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (9 p.m., NBC) – William Lewis is on the loose again! It’s like this awful Benson-Pornstache storyline will never end — hopefully it will tonight.
Workaholics (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – The guys stand up to a cyber bully.
THURSDAY APRIL 10
Parks and Recreation (8:30 p.m., NBC) – Leslie and Andy must secure acts to perform at the upcoming music festival just as a flu epidemic rages through Pawnee.
Elsewhere, Tom, Ron and Ben search for the perfect wine sommelier for Tom’s new restaurant.
The Challenge: Free Agents (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., MTV) -– There are no teams in this 25th installment of The Challenge — aka Where Real World Alumni Go To Die — but expect plenty of the same fights, hookups and grueling competitions as 28 MTV reality show “stars” invade Uruguay.
Parenthood (10 p.m., NBC) – Amber reunites with Ryan under difficult circumstances; Kristina faces losing a friend; Joel helps with Crosby’s mold situation; Drew stresses out over finals.
Portlandia (10 p.m., IFC) – The Portland Trail Blazers dance team receives tips from Toni and Candace, plus a film festival of Kickstarter videos and an appearance by Gus Van Sant.
FRIDAY APRIL 11
Kitchen Nightmares (Season Premiere, 8 p.m., Fox) – Gordon Ramsay returns to Amy’s Baking Company, the Scottsdale, Ariz., bistro he walked out on last season on Nightmares. The restaurant was made infamous not only by Ramsay’s walk-out (the first in the show’s history), but by the owners’ backlash on social media that exploded on Reddit. Can Amy’s recover from its epic PR blunder?
Hannibal (10 p.m., NBC) -– If Miriam Lass is alive, then the Chesapeake Ripper is still at large — and that means freedom for Will Graham. Will Hannibal finally start to sweat?
SATURDAY APRIL 12
Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) -– Seth Rogen hosts for the third time; Grammy nominee Ed Sheeran makes his SNL debut.
SUNDAY APRIL 13
2014 MTV Movie Awards (9 p.m., MTV) – Because where else is 12 Years a Slave recognized on the same level as Anchorman 2? Conan O’Brien hosts this 22nd annual night of blockbuster spoofs, music performances and golden popcorn.
Game of Thrones (9 p.m., HBO) – Houses Baratheon and Tyrell are joined as Joffrey and Margaery marry in royal fashion. Weddings are a sensitive subject for many Game of Thrones fans, and this one won’t disappoint in terms of drama. We also catch up with Stannis and Davos, Ramsay and Theon, and Bran’s group.
Silicon Valley (10 p.m., HBO) – The gang celebrates the deal with Peter Gregory before discovering they must produce a viable business plan before their investor will pay up.
TUESDAY APRIL 15
Fargo (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., FX) – Adapted from the Academy Award-winning 1996 Coen brothers film of the same name, this limited series stars Billy Bob Thorton as a menacing drifter who inspires a wave of crime in small-town Minnesota. Martin Freeman portrays a local insurance salesman influenced by the crook and Colin Hanks plays the deputy investigating it all.
CONTACT JAC KERN: firstname.lastname@example.org or @jackern