Pan Am is an ABC Sunday night drama that follows the crew of the brand new Clipper Majestic as they travel around the world in search of adventure along with the passengers they watch over. Like the NBC show The Playboy Club, the show takes place in the majestic year of 1963, but unlike its competitor, it doesn’t beat the viewer over the head with front and center nostalgia or a cliche storyline.
After watching the premiere of the show, its hard to say exactly why type of show this will be. Of course, its an evening drama similar in vein to its lead in Desperate Housewives, but that is where the similarity ends. There is a little bit of everything for a viewer to attach themselves to. On one side, we have the story of Laura Cameron (Margot Robbie), the beauty queen who runs away from her own wedding in search of adventure and escape from her oppressive mother. Not content with the drab life of a 1960s housewife, she follows her sister and enlists in the Pan Am Stewardess program where her former glamor life catches up with her in the form of a chance photograph on the cover of Life Magazine, much to the annoyance of her sister Kate (Kelli Garner).
Speaking of Kate, for those who are looking for a bit more mystique in story, we find that Kate is wrapped up in a world of espionage, as she becomes an asset for the British intelligence service MI-6 during the height of the cold war. After a highly tense test, the headstrong Kate sets out to prove to everyone that she is capable of moving out of the shadow that was her sister.
Meanwhile, we have Colette Valois (Karine Vanaesse), the lovely and experienced French stewardess who acts as the hovering mother to the crew. She brings in an interesting story of passion and heartbreak in the pilot episode, but I would like to see how her character plays out as the story seems to finish by the end of the episode.
Finally, we have Maggie Ryan (Christina Ricci), the crew lead whose headstrong attitude ended up getting her grounded previously. With the sudden disappearance of the previous crew lead, Pan Am calls on Maggie as their most experienced and capable stewardess to take charge of the crew at the last moment.
The show itself, unlike it’s competitor, is meticulously detailed without being overbearing. While watching, I truly felt that I was in the age where passengers wore their finest. The detail was amazing, from the New York, London, and Italian streets lined with period cars and signage, to the details of the period luggage and terminal decor in New York.
Unlike it’s competitor, Pan Am doesn’t attempt to beat us over the head with a dreary concept of gender equality or racial equality. While yes, there are no signs of black passengers, or women in prominent business positions, the show doesn’t feel the need to remind us of the fact that this was the age where gender and racial equality was born. I’m sure there will be light touches upon the subject, but it isn’t the focus of the show. The show focuses on the freedom and libration of setting out into the world on a new adventure.
From the detail of the sets, to the simple elegance of the cast, Pan Am is poised to be a new Sunday night staple worthy of the Desperate Housewives it’s bound to replace.
- Bridget, the previously assigned crew lead, seems to have been a spy for some time, recruiting Kate in a round about series of tests. She makes a shrouded appearance at the end, so we’ll soon see what happened to her and how she ended up removed from duty.
- The dymanics between Captain Dean (Mike Vogel) and Officer Ted (Michael Mosley) is pretty fun, and I expect they will expand upon it as time goes on.
- Since Pan Am folded 20 years ago, there’s little need to worry about brand disparaging, but the producers have taken great care to keep the tone and majesty of the airline in tact.