Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has credited a financial dispute between TV bosses which threw the future of the show into jeopardy with "rejuvenating" the hit drama.
The fifth season of the popular program, which stars Jon Hamm and January Jones, was due to start shooting last spring ahead of a summer TV debut.
However, bosses at the network behind the show, AMC, and the Lionsgate studio which makes the series struggled to agree a deal over the program, leading to lengthy production delays before it finally premiered on Sunday night.
Weiner, who offered to take a pay cut during the negotiations, admits he wanted the talks to stay private - but is delighted the new season is finally airing because he feared it would be axed.
He tells Britain's Guardian Guide, "I didn't want it to become public at all. I don't think artistic people should have to endure business at that level. I actually got to the point where I thought the show was going to go away. But reaching that point was a shot in the arm."
"A lot of people get to the fifth season of their show and they're bored and tired and it's very hard not to repeat yourself but, for me, having that crisis was rejuvenating.
"When I went back to work it was with a feeling of gratitude and happiness. A near-death experience can really take away the stress of living."