The last time we saw the gang from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Don Draper was settling down with his latest secretary-come-lover Megan, Joan Holloway was with child and Peggy Olson has just about managed to save the company thanks to a deal with Topaz Pantyhose.
But where will Don and co be when we start season five's double-bill premiere? Digital Spy spoke to the man at the centre of the drama - Jon Hamm - to get the gossip on the show's fifth season.
The big rumour about Mad Men during its hiatus was about how the show is going to end. Will it really finish with Don in the present day as Matt Weiner has hinted?
"OK, you have probably read that rather than heard that online. If you had heard the quote you would have not misunderstood the quote. That is not what Matt said. Matt knows how this show is going to end. And I'll just leave it at that... but no, we're not going to go into the '90s with Don Draper."
But it will be a case of seven seasons and that's it?
"As it stands now, yes. I'm contracted through and Matt is contracted through to the seventh season. There are always things when people say, 'This is the last season.... but', so we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
"But I think the prevailing wisdom and the larger point is that you should end a story at the point that you want to end it, as a writer and storyteller. The ability to end when you want to end and how you want to end is a wonderful artistic opportunity. That is what Matt has gotten with these three more seasons."
Do you know the show's ending?
Is it good?
"What do you think? I am smiling."
Is there extra pressure on the show because of the 18-month hiatus?
"Sure. Especially after being off the air for so long. There are two ways to look at this. Either absence makes the heart grow fonder, or it's out of sight, out of mind. Ideally we hope it's the former. But I've always said that I'm glad that I don't have to write this show. There exists an expectation with this show of, 'Now what smart guy?'
"That's difficult to live up to, but Matthew is an incredibly talented writer and an incredibly earnest hard-working writer. I put my trust in his ability to tell the story of this character and I think it's a well-founded trust."
You got to direct an episode in the fifth season. Was that something you had wanted to do for a long while?
"Yes indeed. It was an incredible experience. An eye-opening experience. An invigorating experience. It was a look into a part of a show that I hadn't really seen, which is surprising considering how much I am around the set and the show and the making of. But as an actor you don't get to see a lot of what goes into making a television show. As a director you get that curtain pulled back significantly more.
"The one thing I was worried about doing the directing at the start of the season was that I'd end up wiped. I'd be so tired. I thought I'd end up doing the rest of the series one-legged. And yet, it was so invigorating and exciting that wasn't the case at all. I was re-energised in many ways.
"I'd seen John Slattery do it, I'd seen Ben Affleck do it on The Town and I worked with my girlfriend [Jennifer Westfeldt] on Friends with Kids a new film, so that helped."
Did the cast treat you differently as director?
"No. They still treated me like s**t."
Were there any tantrums from you behind the camera?
"No absolutely not. I'm not a tantrum guy. And I don't really put up with it if I'm being honest. I find it abhorrent to have people misbehave on set. We're all at work, we're on set, let's do our work and let's go home. Otherwise, what are we doing? We get the job done and we like our job."
The show has never had scintillating ratings in the US or UK. Can a show survive on critical acclaim and awards alone these days?
"The funny thing that exists now - and I have only a rudimentary understanding of this... I am but an actor - is that television is consumed, and entertainment is consumed, is that ratings aren't the driving force they once were from a monetisation standpoint. There are so many other revenue streams that can get a television programme made.
"Whether that is international sales, iTunes, pre-sold syndication, on-demand downloads. It's so weird. You can literally watch the whole of a television show on your phone now. That wasn't the case when we started making this show five years ago. The rating is one piece of a very fragmented pie and I don't know how important it is anymore. I think it exists as a benchmark, but I really don't know."
What was the truth behind the Sir Paul McCartney filming Mad Men cameo rumors?
"Oh my God, I just heard this. Can we get 1965 Paul McCartney. We've always shied away from anybody that is terrifically recognisable on the show. I am an absolutely massive fan of The Beatles and Sir Paul McCartney, although George Harrison is my favourite. Really. Don't judge me."
"But McCartney was... he is... talk about an icon. The man is legendary and deservedly so. But I think that rumour should be taken with a certain degree of salt. I don't know if he will be appearing on the show, but fortunately I don't have that decision to make."
What are the best and worst parts of playing Don Draper?
"I very much love playing the character. It's a unique opportunity to play an intensely interesting dramatic arc. And those don't come around too often. There are actors who have long lucrative careers and haven't had the opportunity to have played a character as good as this one.
"So I'm incredibly lucky to have done this at my advanced age. I love doing it. It's a challenge, it's challenging. It offers me chances to stretch and grow and become a better actor. It's informed my career in innumerable ways."
You've done a lot more comedy outside of Mad Men with SNL, 30 Rock and Bridesmaids. Are you more comfortable doing comedy than drama?
"No, I'm horrible at it. I'm terrible at telling jokes. John Slattery is great at telling jokes. I'm awful. I can literally have 15 jokes written down and I would manage to wangle all of them. I can't do it."
At the end of the fourth season, Don made his decision to have a relationship with Megan Calvet rather than Dr Faye Miller. Was that a sign that Don is going to regress as a character in the fifth season?
"That's one way to put it, I guess. Another way is, do people ever really change or do they just move in circles? And I don't know what the answer to that is. And I don't know if we have the answer to that for Don yet. We've certainly seen him go through a lot, especially with his marriage disintegrating in the last season and the fallout from that.
"It made for some good television I think. Whether we have come out of the other side of that... we shall see."
People were split down the middle with Faye vs Megan and it really shocked people. Were you shocked when you read the script?
"I had the opportunity to watch that episode with a large party of people at a season finale party and that was the first time I'd seen it all put together. There was an audible gasp at that moment. I knew it was coming, but I still looked around myself and went 'jeez s**t'. So yeah, it's a big choice."
(Jon Hamm as Don Draper, left - January Jones as Betty Draper, right)
Is there any hope for those viewers who want a Don and Betty reunion?
"We'll see. [smiles]"
Kiernan Shipka who plays your daughter Sally on the show is one of the most incredible child actors I've ever seen on screen. What has it been like to work with her over the five seasons?
"The funny thing about Kiernan is that she's been on this show for longer than she hasn't, as a human being on this planet.
"She's just coming past her 12th birthday and she's essentially grown up on the show, which is pretty terrifying when you think about it. But she has the most amazing parents, first of all. Amazing people.
"And also she's the most conscientious and sweet person I've worked with. I'm one of the people she's worked with the most and she's been given so much to do down the years. She's handled it with aplomb and especially so as she's a child. She's a sweetheart and an intensely talented kid and I hope she has an opportunity to continue to do this, or not, depending on what she wants to do.
"But the great thing about her is that she has the two most wonderful parents who have really kept her head screwed on the right direction. If she was here now she'd take these questions in her stride far more than I am. She's a great kid."
Mad Men season five premieres on AMC on March 25 with two-hour episode 'A Little Kiss'. It airs in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday, March 27.