TV

'Mad' Woman

Surely you couldn't have missed the news that TV's most critically acclaimed show, "Mad Men," returns Sunday night (AMC, 10 p.m.) for its fourth season.



For those who haven't seen the show, "Mad Men" is the story of Joan (Christina Hendricks), an office manager at a prestigious New York ad agency in the early 1960s. For three years, we've followed Joan's trials and tribulations as she ended her affair with the one of the agency's owners, Roger Stirling (John Slattery) and gotten married. Most recently, Joan left the agency to begin domestic life with her new husband, only to be brought back in the eleventh hour to be the foundation for a new agency formed by the partners, breaking away from the British firm that bought the agency.



There are some other minor subplots going on as well, some of which center around ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who has been in marital strife with his wife Betty (January Jones).



As Season 4 opens, the episode is curiously un-Joan-centric, electing instead to focus on the formation of the new ad agency. We pick up the action in Nov. 1964, a year after the events of last season. The new firm is located in the Time-Life building, struggling to stay on its feet. Don is now single again, while Betty has married political operative Henry Francis.



"Mad Men" has earned its acclaim not only for the striking characters creator Matt Weiner has developed, but for also being an incredibly accurate and insightful look into a bygone era in America. And it's great to watch, even when the action is steered away from Joan.



WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Too much TV, not enough weekend. "Mad Men" doesn't help my Sunday TV viewing, which is already overcrowded.



Tonight is the return of "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) after a week off, while "Flashpoint" (CBS, 10 p.m.) is also new.



On cable, there's new episodes of "Eureka" and "Haven" on SyFy, beginning at 9 p.m.



On Saturday, "Doctor Who" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) wraps up its season after last week's brilliant cliffhanger, with the Doctor (Matt Smith) seemingly defeated by an alliance of his enemies. It's followed by the season premiere of the clever "Being Human" at 10 p.m., which follows a vampire, werewolf and ghost who are flatmates in England. With all of the vampire-related shows out there, it's easy to overlook "Being Human," but it's really one of the best.



Also on Saturday, NBC is burning off the remaining episodes of "Persons Unknown" at 8 p.m.



On Sunday, plan strategically, for "My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m.) also debuts with back-to-back episodes. Unfortunately, the always-great Jim Gaffigan isn't back with the show, with his character Andy having moved to China.



On the networks, CBS has a new "Big Brother" at 8 p.m., while ABC has new installments of "Scoundrels" at 9 p.m. and "The Gates" at 10 p.m. "Masterpiece: Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.) continues its Hercule Poirot series with "Appointment With Death."



On cable, "Leverage" (TNT, 9 p.m.) is brand new, while HBO delivers "True Blood" at 9 p.m., followed by "Hung" and "Entourage."



Finally, if you missed it the first time, AMC is rerunning the pilot for its new series "Rubicon" at 10:55 p.m., immediately after "Mad Men." "Rubicon" officially debuts next week.

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