‘Mad Men’ Back For Don Draper’s Final Bow, How To Watch Online

Mad Men, the cult-favorite AMC cable drama about a troubled but wealthy, alcoholic advertising executive coping with his own rather severe personality flaws and the cultural changes of the 1960s that make those flaws increasingly grating, returns tonight, April 13, for the premiere episode of its final season.

Well, sort of. Tonight’s episode is indeed a premiere. The final episode of Mad Men Season Six, the 79th episode overall, aired on June 23 of last year. The show has been away so long that all 79 episodes are already on Netflix.

But though tonight’s episode, “Time Zones,” which sees the show’s opaque protagonist Don Draper fly to Los Angeles, is the season premiere, AMC is pulling the same stunt it pulled with another recently concluded popular series about a middle-aged white man coping poorly with the responsibilities of adulthood, Breaking Bad. AMC is splitting the final Mad Men“season” into two mini-seasons. So Mad Men fans will get to indulge in just seven episodes in 2014, starting tonight.

The next, and last, seven Mad Men episodes are still being filmed and won’t hit the airwaves, or cable wires, until 2015.

“They should put all of us in a house from July to next April and we can film that as a reality show and air it on AMC,” said actress Elizabeth Moss, who has portrayed career-minded copywriter Peggy Olson since Season One in 2007. “I’m super excited about it. Mad House is the obvious choice for a title.”

While it’s doubtful that AMC will buy Moss’s reality show pitch — but then again, who knows? — the network and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner have been highly secretive about plot details of the new Mad Men season that starts tonight.

At Weiner’s insistence, AMC provided TV reviewers with advance copies of only tonight’s Mad Men premiere episode — journalists usually receive advance DVDs of the first several episodes of a cable series such as Mad Men — and the creator accompanied the disc with a letter insisting that critics refrain from revealing what happens in the episode.

“Secrecy is the currency of our drama,” Weiner wrote.

So all we know is that Don Draper goes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife Megan who dumped him last season to chase television stardom and get away from his ultra-possessive and adulterous ways. The show has less smoking than in previous seasons in which characters puffed away so much one wonders if the series ends with them all hooked up to iron lungs.

And the song “I’m A Man,” by The Spencer Davis Group figures in there somehow.

AMC makes watching Mad Men live online streaming difficult. In fact there is no way to watch legally. But each new episode can be downloaded from iTunes or Amazon.com shortly after it airs, for $1.99 per installment. The AMC web site also posts full episodes of Mad Men on its own site for a limited time, free.

Image: AMC