From Mad Men to The Playboy Club and everywhere in-between, the 60s are hot, hot hot on the small screen this season. Last week, we caught a sneak preview of ABC’s latest, Pan Am, at the DC-area Renaissance Capital View before it takes off on TV this Sunday at 10 PM (EST).
We’ll admit to being skeptical – any show featuring overly perky flight attendants just seems suspect – and reviews had ranged from downright terrible to middling-ly mediocre.
A word to the lovers of Mad Men: this isn’t it. Pan Am is a light and funny romp that touches on historic subjects with as much accuracy as possible but doesn’t aim for more than a fun hour in front of the television. It’s a glamorization of the “jet age” and (semi) embraces the new feminist ideals, sort of.
As with any pilot, it took some time to figure out who was who and what, exactly, was going on with all those flight attendants. But as we settled into the story, we were pleasantly surprised. The dialogue was for the most part well-written, with the occasional zinger of a line, and the story arc left plenty of room for further developments throughout the season.
What do you need to know? (Spoiler alerts ahead!)
Newly-minted captain Dean is sleeping with Bridgette, a sexy stewardess who also happens to be a CIA agent, although he doesn’t know it. He proposes, but she disappears shortly thereafter, much to Dean’s dismay.
Maggie, played by Christina Ricci, is a wild bohemian who fills her wish to travel by buttoning up and playing the rule-abiding flight attendant who may or may not have a thing for pilot Dean. While we didn’t get much of her personality in the first episode, there’s no doubt in our minds that she’ll amp up her screen time soon.
Sisters Kate and Lauren Cameron are highlighted in several scenes of the pilot. Kate, the eldest, has defied her parents wishes and become a Pan Am stewardess – and a CIA agent, although we’re not quite sure how she is smart enough to do so. We learn midway through that Lauren ran out on her own wedding to join her sister in her travels and that their love for each other may be tempered by a bit of competition and by Lauren’s naievete. Lauren, despite getting ample screen time in the first episode due to her Life cover feature, seems like she’s doubtful of her own abilities – will she stay in the flight crew?
Colette, the sexy French stewardess, takes the “coffee, tea or me” route as we learn she had an affair with a passenger, who shows up on the next flight … with his wife and child.
Historical accuracy, for the most part, exists, but the former stewardesses we spoke with during the party said that the uniforms were far too blue and that the stewardesses spent too much time interacting and not nearly enough time working.
Was it groundbreaking television? No. Was it amusing? Yes. Will we be watching, at least for the next few episodes? Of course.