Severance,” the first episode of the final Mad Men season, feels like a return to square one — business as usual at Sterling Cooper & Partners, sex, a death from cancer, sexism, finessing clients, Don Draper drinking and catting around, a firing, office disputes, back to the darkness and so on. Mad Men has been running nearly eight years and we’re only weeks from the finale, and I didn’t get even a slight feeling of forces gathering and final fates approaching.   It almost felt as if the series was starting all over again fresh…almost. The most striking performance came from Elizabeth Reaser as a melancholy coffee-ship waitress whom Draper has a curious attraction for (and vice versa to some extent). The event at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was fun, spirited, relaxing, cool. The band at the after-party played mild, old-fashioned MOR — it felt like the pre-fire party scene in Irwin Allen‘s The Towering Inferno. I decided not to raise the sideburns issue…to hell with it.

Mad Men star Jon Hamm, recently out of rehab at Silver Hill, on red carpet outside Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Man Men creator Matthew Weiner speaking with Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil.