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.

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