Archive | 2:30 pm

Fall 2011 Review: Pan Am

3 Oct

Pan Am, one of two new shows this season set in the Mad Men era, the early ‘60s, thankfully does not try to emulate Mad Men in mood or feel.  It’s hard not to at least make a comparison, but while Mad Men is largely serious, Pan Am is light and fluffy, even buoyant.

Pan Am is the story of a group of stewardesses (they were certainly not called flight attendants yet) and pilots who work in the exciting world of intercontinental airfare.  In the first episode, they inaugurate a new jet.  There’s definitely a bit of soap feel, but more of a fun, light, escapist feel than, say,  in Revenge, which has more of a fun, but darker, trashy feel.

So far it seems we’ve got four main stewardesses.  Two are sisters, one who ran away from the altar just before her planned marriage to join her sister as a stewardess, and who was pictured on Life magazine as the face of Pan Am airlines before her first flight.  Her resentful sister has been working at Pan Am longer but has just been initiated into helping out US and British intelligence services.  The third stewardess is French and finds out that a man she’s been sleeping with is married, and the fourth is Christina Ricci, who seems a bit more of a hipster than the other girls, in the old-school Bob Dylan, early 60s sense, but flies around to see the world.  We don’t know nearly as much about the pilots, except that the captain was in love with a stewardess who we, but not he, know was also an agent for US and UK intelligence and now has to quit Pan Am for some reason.

It didn’t leave a strong impression as to what’s going to happen for most of the characters.  The only character for whom I got a feeling of what will happen going forward is Laura, the stewardess who will presumably be taking on new and exciting intelligence missions.  For the rest, well, personal drama, sure, but I can’t quite tell how much of the show we can expect to be serial, and how much episode by episode, and I’m not sure what manner of adventures we’ll see – hijackings?  Missed connections?  Angry customers?  I’d be interested to watch a mid-season episode if for nothing else to see what level of problems the stewardesses and pilots are dealing with.  I can’t imagine it being too dour week to week, or it would largely destroy the tone.

Will I watch it again?  Honestly, I probably won’t watch it next week.  That said, I think it’s so far the closest show on the border.  It wasn’t bad or disappointing, it just didn’t hit me hard enough with so many other commitments on board.

Power Rankings: 3rd Rock From the Sun

3 Oct

(Power Rankings sum up:  Each week, we’ll pick a television show and rank the actors/actresses/contestants/correspondents/etc. based on what they’ve done after the series ended (unless we’re ranking a current series, in which case we’ll have to bend the rules).  Preference will be given to more recent work, but if the work was a long time ago, but much more important/relevant, that will be factored in as well)

3rd Rock From The Sun – for a show I barely watched, this is a far more impressive Power Rankings than I was expecting.  Let’s go.

7. Simbi Khali (as Nina Campbell) – Every power rankings has to have a last place.  Khali in We Were Soldiers, in single episodes of That ‘80s Show and The Bernie Mac Show and as a voice in The Incredible Hulk video game.  Moving on.

6. Elmarie Wendel (as Mamie Dubcek) – She appeared in six episodes of NYPD Blue, 11 episodes of George Lopez, and in an American Dad and a Criminal Minds.

5. Kristen Johnson (as Sally Solomon) – in 2003 she appeared in a single episode of Queens Supreme and then in 2004 in a Sex in the City, in which she plays an aging party girl who falls out of her window and dies, forcing Carrie to reflect on her life.  She guest starred in six episodes of ER and in three of Ugly Betty.  She was in one episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine and in the second season premiere of Bored to Death as a dominatrix.

4. Jane Curtin (as Mary Albright) – her post 3rd Rock career started slowly.  She appeared in a series of TV movies, most notably as a librarian in the first The Librarian movie starring Noah Wyle, and she has reprised that role in two other The Librarian teleivision movies since.  She co-starred in short-lived Fred Savage 2006 series Crumbs, and appeared in two episodes of Gary Unmarried.  She played Paul Rudd’s mother in I Love You, Man and appears in 2011’s I Don’t Know How She Does It.

3. French Stewart (as Harry Solomon) – the man has kept far more busy than I had realized, albeit mostly in work that flies under the radar.  Within a year of the end of 3rd Rock, he appeared in single episodes of Ally McBeal, Becker and That ‘70s Show as well as as Inspector Gadget in the straight-to-video Inspector Gadget 2.  In 2004 and 2005 he appeared in single episodes of The Drew Carey Show and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as well as three episodes of Less Than Perfect.  In the years since, the guest appearances have continued in force, with Stewart showing up in episodes of Pepper Dennis, Bones, The Closer, Cavemen, Pushing Daisies, Castle, Private Practice and SGU Stargate Universe.  He will be starring in a voice role in Fox cartoon Allen Gregory this fall.

2. John Lithgow (as Dick Solomon) –  at the same time 3rd Rock was wrapping up, Lithgow voiced the villainous Lord Farquaad in Shrek, and played Colin Hanks’ father in 2002 in Orange County.  He played Blake Edwards in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, and Alfred Kinsey’s strict father in Kinsey, both in 2004.  In 2006, he had a small role in Dreamgirls, and starred in a thirteen episode series, Twenty Good Years on NBC, with Jeffrey Tambor.  In 2009, he had perhaps his most memorable role since 3rd Rock, as Dexter nemesis and Trinity Killer Arthur Mitchell on the fourth season of Dexter, for which he won an Emmy.  Since then he appeared in Leap Year, in two episodes of How I Met Your Mother as Barney’s dad, and in Rise of the Planet of the Apes as James Franco’s dad

1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Tommy Solomon) – It took Gordon-Levitt, the youngest main cast member, a little while to gain some career traction after the show ended, but since he grabbed it, he hasn’t given it up.  His first big post-3rd Rock break was 2005’s Brick, a high school film noir, for which he attracted rave reviews.  In the next couple of years, he appeared in Havoc and Shadowboxer, before appearing in The Lookout in 2007, for which he again received raves.  After Stop-Loss, The Miracle and Santa Anna and Killshot, he appeared in 2009’s (500) Days of Summer, an indie comedy smash, and as the villain, Cobra Commander in blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.  2010 brought a key role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception and in 2011 he’s co-starring with Seth Rogan in cancer dramedy 50/50.  His future looks just as bright as he’s slated to appear in the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, and as Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’sLincoln.