After 17 months, the gripping TV drama is back, and cities are pulling out all the stop with parties and special screenings. What is it about this show that strikes such a chord?

This article titled “New York revels in the return of Mad Men” was written by Paul Harris in New York, for The Observer on Sunday 18th March 2012 00.04 UTC

Jace Lacob is one of a rare breed of people in the US. He is the television critic at the Daily Beast and therefore has already seen the two-hour episode of Mad Men that will kick off the show's long-awaited fifth season.

Of course, he is sworn to secrecy about its contents. After a 17-month wait, the return on 25 March of the show about a 1960s advertising agency is hotly awaited. But the latest goings-on involving characters Don Draper, Roger Sterling and Peggy Olson are a closely guarded secret. Lacob will say one thing, though: “It surpasses its expectations. It is beautiful, it is surprising and it is emotional.”

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