Mad Men finally returns next week, kicking off Season Seven with a superb premiere. No other TV drama has ever produced so many brilliant episodes, with such a deep bench of American rogues, hustlers, cheats and dreamers. No other cast of characters can match the glamorously damaged crew from Sterling Cooper: the fearsome Bert Cooper, the rakish Roger Sterling, the stalwart Peggy Olson, the brazen Joan Holloway Harris, the slappable Pete Campbell. And at center stage, Don Draper, the man who sold the world.
So while we await the new season, here's a celebration of the 30 best Mad Men episodes — ranking the greatest hits of the greatest TV drama ever. By now there are almost 80 episodes, and even the weakest ones (Don and Betty go to Rome?) have their just-taste-it moments. But these are the unforgettable peaks. ("Time Zones," the new season's premiere, would totally make the list, except it hasn't aired yet.) So let's break it down and roam those hillsides. Remember the wise words of Roger Sterling: "When God closes a door, he opens a dress." By Rob Sheffield