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Pan Am: ABC’s Latest Hope To Soar – Episode 1

Pan Am has drawn comparisons to several fan favorite shows. After Sunday night’s premiere, I like to think of it as a slick hybrid of Desperate Housewives’ drama and Mad Men retro-style. Being a Pan Am stewardess is no easy task. As we come to find out, Pan Am’s stewardesses can only fly until they get married or turn 32. The stringent look policy for the women includes stockings, a girdle and a properly positioned hat.

The pilot episode takes place at the height of Pan Am’s heyday. The company’s newest jetliner, the Clipper Majestic, is preparing for its maiden voyage. And like any good debut, there are problems.

That’s where we meet Maggie, played by Christina Ricci. So far, this role seems like a departure from Ricci’s darker, angst-filled roles she has typically been typecast to play. It’s a good fit for Ricci, who has an elegant stride and grace about her. Could she be hiding secrets behind her smile? It should be interesting to see how Maggie progresses this season. There’s a little too much polish to her. The stewardesses’ highly competitive and superficial working environment lends it to harbor a saboteur.

Pan Am does a wonderful job at portraying the hope and innocence of a day gone by. The excitement in the airport that we see in the first episode is most definitely dated.

One confusing storyline is that of Kate. We find out within the first five minutes she is pulling double duty as she takes on her first “assignment,” to replace a passenger’s passport with a phony. The story here was still ambiguous at the end of episode one, and quite honestly, seems the most outlandish.

It is obvious that the producers of the show had difficulty finding a cooperative airport to film the show. While shots of the fuselage look realistic, the shots of the plane in the air and even the airport itself are quite fake. The takeoff scene from Sunday’s episode was regal, if not a bit silly. As the music swells, and the Clipper Majestic takes off for the first time, Maggie quips with a smile, “buckle up…adventure calls!” The contrast between the darker story lines and the stewardesses’ primped outward appearance was nearly too stark.

Colette is the most adventurous, if you will, of the Pan Am ladies. She sets herself up for disappointment when she recognizes a man she met from a previous flight, only to meet his wife and child moments later. I feel confident that this will become a patterned behavior for Colette and that we’ve yet to see the best of her.

Pan Am in many ways reminds me of the premiere episode of Desperate Housewives. If it has been a while since you’ve watched, do yourself a favor and rematch. You’ll notice some similarities. Bizarre, overbearing music paired with multiple story lines and a confusing plot twist.

Opportunities aside, the show is one of the best scripted series I’ve seen in years. Overnight ratings were solid and I hope the show’s momentum keeps going, just like an airplane jettisoning down the runway. Pan Am is right at home on ABC’s Sunday evening lineup.

8 thoughts on “Pan Am: ABC’s Latest Hope To Soar – Episode 1”

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  3. INteresting…your one “complaint” was the only reason my husband and I liked it so much. It felt very “Mad Men in the sky” until we found out that at least some of the girls work as spies against the USSR.

  4. It is obvious that the producers of the show had difficulty finding a cooperative airport to film the show.

    I wouldn’t say that. Since the show takes place in 1963, and the flight was from New York (Idlewild), the show had to feature the iconic Pan Am Worldport. While the former Worldport still exists as JFK’s Terminal 3, it’s been altered too much for the show to use it as a location.

    As for the fake looking plane, well, you have me there. I have no idea why Pan Am would be getting a new turbojet powered 707 in 1963. I imagine someone behind the show thought that a 707-320B didn’t look “old” enough. Had they opted to be historically accurate, they probably could have found a real aircraft for the exterior shots.

  5. The pilot was horrible! The Special Effects shots looked incredibly cheap. The only show I might recommend watching in Lo-Def. The acting and the story were also low resolution.

  6. Glamorous nostalgia. The show succeeded in re-creating an era.
    And yes, it was a very lo-def time. This was before anti-Vietnam war, civil rights, women’s lib and the pill.
    Looking forward to more Pan Am Sunday nights.

  7. I became an Eastern Airlines stewardess in 1965 and had to leave in 1967
    because I was engaged to be married. However, during that time, I was asked to
    participate in EAL’s promotion and publicity, which I felt privileged to do. On Nov. 13,
    1965, Eastern Airlines sponsored The Jack Benny Special, and I was one of the
    three stewardesses in the live commercial, 24 min. into the hour long show. Until
    recently, because it was done live, I had never seen any part of the show. I find it
    stunning how sweet and innocent we were, and grateful to have experienced it.

  8. I watch this show for the pure joy of being transported back to a time when life was nicer. Flying in general, was far more civilized and service-oriented. It was wonderful to see the smart, stylish stewardesses and passengers who cared enough to dress up for flights.
    It was a classier, gentler time. Flying was exciting…something you truly looked forward to.
    Now, I feel like I’m on the Greyhound bus of the sky…between the passengers with their backpacks and jogging suits, and “flight attendants” dressed in khakis and polo shirts.

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