NEW YORK — "Mad Men" will end its glorious run tonight not with a bang or a whimper, but a resolution that will ring true to the spirit of the series.
That's according to Matthew Weiner, creator of this much-acclaimed drama set in the 1960s New York advertising world. It concludes its seven-season run on AMC at 10 p.m. EDT.
Traditionally tightlipped when it comes to any "Mad Men" twist, Weiner was understandably sketchy when addressing the series' 92nd-and-last hour recently.
"Hopefully, it's dramatic and appropriate," he said, but added, "It's not very high-concept. It's in the style of the show. This is not 'Lost': I didn't have a big mystery to solve."
Even so, there are many questions in the viewer's mind about the fate of beloved figures played by such cast members as John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Elisabeth Moss and January Jones.
Perhaps the biggest mystery: Whither Don Draper, the charismatic, mysterious ad-agency whiz who has always been the main focus of the series.
When last seen, he was on the run, leaving behind his agency, family and Manhattan home for a westward road trip. Then he gave his Cadillac away. At last week's fade-out he was seated on a bench in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a bus to take him further on his puzzling quest.
Weiner said he first conceived of the ending a full seven years ago, "though what I envisioned was vaguer, a feeling. The actual concrete version came to me about three or four years ago, and that's exactly how we filmed it."
Early on, very few were privy to Weiner's plans. Among the chosen: Jon Hamm, who stars as Draper.
"Matt and I have had a lot of conversations about where the show was going," Hamm recalled recently. "At some point many, many years ago, he mentioned this idea for its ending, and I said to him, 'That's a good idea.' I also said, 'How are you gonna get there? What's the path to that particular ending?'"
"Then I thought, 'Boy, I'm glad I don't have to write it!'"
Writing it was Weiner's job.
"Of course, I want people to like it," he said, "and I want them to be satisfied. But as I'm hearing from fans the degree of their emotional relationship with the show, I don't know if anything can be enough.
"All I can say is, that we followed the rules of the show. And that I hope the entire series won't be judged by five minutes at the end."
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at [email protected] and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore