‘Mad Men’ Premiere Is Series’ Most-Watched Episode Ever

Jessica Pare as Megan Draper on 'Mad Men' (Photo: AMC)

The wait is over and the verdict is in: The long, 17-month absence from the airwaves did not hurt the Emmy-winning drama “Mad Men.”

Sunday night’s Season 5 premiere drew 3.5 million viewers, making it the highest-rated episode ever for the AMC series.

That’s up 21% from the fourth-season premiere, with the episode, “A Little Kiss,” also posting series highs in all key demos, delivering 1.7 million viewers in adults 25-54. (Series creator Matthew Weiner, who nearly quit last year over testy contract negotiations, pour yourself a scotch and say cheers!)

“‘Mad Men’ set the bar high and we are incredibly proud that it continues to engage audiences looking for unexpected, unconventional and uncompromising television,” said Charlie Collier, AMC’s president, in a statement. “We couldn’t be more proud of this program.”

After getting off to a slow start, the two-hour episode got the party started when the new Mrs. Draper (Jessica Pare) threw a surprise 40th birthday party for Don (Jon Hamm), even though Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) warned her that he hates surprises and his birthday (which is a fake birthday to begin with, being that Don Draper was born June 1, not Dick Whitman).

But that didn’t stop Megan from planning a soiree at their swinging new apartment or from giving Don “the gift” of a sexy serenade in front of their jaw-dropped co-workers. Yes, if it wasn’t abundantly clear in the opener, Don Draper’s world has changed, for better or for worse, in the nine months that have passed since his former secretary was upgraded to wife (and series regular). For a Full Recap of the “Mad Men” Premiere, Click Here.

But the provocative number is the moment everyone is talking about the morning after as they try to erase “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” from their heads, while wondering where the heck is Betty???

In fact, the song is actually called “Zou Bisou Bisou” and was first a hit in 1960 for British-born actress Gillian Hill (discovered by Roger Vadim and dubbed “the new Brigitte Bardot”), who at age 16 sang the flirty French tune in the same year that Italian siren Sophia Loren performed an English version of it in the film, “The Millionairess” (got all that?). And now, Pare’s “Mad Men” rendition (which seems to be channeling Loren) is available on iTunes and a limited edition red or black vinyl release can be purchased on AMC’s website. By the way, “Zou Bisou Bisou’s” rough translation is “Oh! Kiss, Kiss…”

“Mad Men” airs Sunday nights at 10/9c on AMC.

True to Its Time, “Mad Men” on Its Portrayal of Sexism:

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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