[broken bar] OW do I love thee, Mad Men? Let me count the ways. I don't think I can go quite as far as Elizabeth Barrett Browning when she continues: "I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight..." But I admit to having yearned for the television series ever since the end of the fourth series some 18 months ago.
Once my wife and I knew it was returning, we spent a couple of happy weeks re-viewing the whole canon in preparation for the start of the fifth series. And if I should ever think of composing a sonnet in praise of a TV show, then Mad Men would certainly be a worthy subject. It is televisual poetry.
A more-than-worthy successor to two other brilliant American hit shows, The Sopranos and The Wire, its return to the screen was greeted with the kind of hype that surely delighted Stuart Murphy, director of programmes for Sky Atlantic, the channel that will benefit from the wall-to-wall coverage.
For the past three weeks, magazines and newspapers have been featuring interviews with its stars -- January Jones and Elizabeth Moss (pictured below left and right respectively) and John Hamm -- along with pictures, inevitably, of the curvaceous Christina Hendricks.
Roger Sterling's wisecracks were listed. There were articles on product placement and the exquisite choice of music. The show's creator, Matthew Weiner, explained the reasons behind the lengthy hiatus, a contractual dispute with the US cable channel which first commissioned it.
At first, I was delighted. It is great to see a show one loves getting the attention it deserves. And then, I admit, I became downhearted. Do I really want to share the Mad Men experience with so many people after all? That led me to thinking about the reasons a show that has never secured a large audience should suddenly be taking up so much editorial space.
One part of the answer is media narcissism. We in journalism are obsessed by what happens in our world and, though we hate to admit it, that means advertising.
Similarly, the milieu so elegantly portrayed in Mad Men is one we identify with -- the continual drinking, smoking and philandering. Journalism may have cleaned …