I usually scoff at claims that Emmy nominations or awards have any concrete effect on television shows, but Mad Men seems to be the rare exception. Sunday night's season premiere pulled in 1.9 million viewers -- hardly a staggering number, even by cable standards, but more than double the audience from the show's debut episode last summer. Only explanation I can think of: the 16 Emmy nominations, including one for best drama, that Mad Men picked up two weeks ago.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure Mad Men will be able to take full advantage of all those new viewers. Sunday night's episode was cryptic even by the standards of Mad Men, where the weekly scripts often seem to be isolated pieces of a vast jigsaw puzzle. Not much happened, and there was little attempt to fill in the back story for a first-time viewer. For me, Mad Men's vivid, nuanced characters and extraordinary attention to period detail are more than enough to make up for the slow pace. But I'm not sure those million folks who tuned in for the first time Sunday night are going to agree.