"Mad Men" season 6 premiere sneak preview

Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in a scene from "Mad Men." AMC

"Mad Men" is finally (almost) back, and CBSNews.com was able to catch an early sneak peak of the two-hour premiere. And while we won't give away too much about Sunday's season 6 launch, we will give you some tidbits to get you prepped for the shows much-anticipated return.

True to form, creator Matthew Weiner uses the first episode of a new season to catch viewers up on where the characters stand in their complicated lives. So while the two-hour premiere wasn't the most action-packed, or dramatic, we do get caught up with the intimate personal details of most of our favorite "mad men" -- minus Pete Campbell and Joan, but from what the trailer tells us, their time will come.

One of the major plot points that Weiner did not want given away was the year in which season 6 takes place. We are given some clues due to the social and political landscape, but the exact year eluded me. So Matthew, no worries on any spoilers there. But one thing is for sure -- sideburns are definitely of the moment.

As was hinted at in the Don Draper doppelganger teaser poster that AMC revealed a while back to seemingly confuse us even more, the characters are trying to find themselves and discover who they really are. And it's not just Don who's dealing with his inner turmoil, Roger Sterling is working out some deep-seeded issues as well.

And then there's death, lots and lots of death -- both literal and literary. Dante's "Inferno" is referenced throughout, which leads me to believe that this is going to be a very bleak season. And there's more than a fair share of death and discussion of death throughout the two hours, but to quote "Forrest Gump": "That's all I have to say about that."

Despite the smell of death wafting throughout the halls of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, we are also greeted with the constant smell of reefer. And despite the dark, dragging introspection of our leading men, there are some bright moments in the premiere. Most notably with the women, who are kicking butt. Peggy is taking no prisoners at her new job -- solving problems under pressure and leading the charge. Megan's career is taking off (she is asked for an autograph at some point, if that provides any insight). Betty is back, and she's bolder (and still bigger) than ever. And she's not afraid of a little adventure -- in more ways than one. Sally is growing up and becoming a "tween," which should lend itself to some interesting plot points this season. And Don's black secretary has come into her own. The women of Roger's life return briefly (including his first ex-wife, who happens to be his real-life wife, which I kind of love) -- and they aren't afraid to tell the unraveling Roger how it is. All in all, the women are getting it together, while the men seem to be falling apart, which is a nice thing to see.

My initial reaction to the episode is that it was a bit dark and slow for my taste, but that doesn't mean that this season doesn't have great promise. I think that by setting the tone the way they did was a smart way to launch what is sure to be a truly dramatic and revealing season. And I think when I watch it for the second time, during Sunday's 9 p.m. ET live episode, I may feel a bit differently about it. So return here for a full recap of the episode late Sunday night.

  • Lesley Savage

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