Guest Blog Post: ABC’s Pan Am Premier Review

by on September 27, 2011 · 18 comments

in Guest Blog Posts, Pan Am the Show

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Hello TPG community! Danielle here – Brian’s sister-in-law, girl friday, and membership liaison. You may remember me from my post on flying with toddlers from the beginning of the summer. Well, I’m back again in order to hijack and bring you an introduction to ABC’s brand-new series Pan Am. I’m been excited to check out this show since Brian first wrote a post in February about the possibility of a series featuring the golden age of flying. Since this “highly original” series is one of the only airline-centric television programs on the market, my hopes are sky-high that it will feed my fix for drama at 30,000 feet. If all goes well, a Pan Am review will become a fixture on the site, and I will be popping up weekly to recap.

ABC’s Pan Am Premier Makes It Off the Ground 
*attention, spoilers ahead*

The series premier opens with gorgeous views of Pan American Airway’s iconic fleet shining in the morning sun. The vintage terminal gleams – clean, efficient, and fast pasted without being frantic. We catch a glimpse of a wonderstruck child smiling at the handsome man-of-the-hour; a pilot on his way to meet his crew. Everything is manicured and coiffed, the men’s suits ironed and immaculate, every airport worker pleasant and professional, and the impeccable flight attendants are weighed before take-off. Welcome to another world – the Jet Age – the magnificent era of 1960′s air travel. The portrayal is impressive to say the least.

For those of you who were unable to catch Sunday night’s episode here is a brief synopsis:

For it’s pilot episode ABC’s Pan Am invites us to join in on the inaugural New York to London flight of the fleet’s newest aircraft, the Clipper Majestic. At the helm is the dashing Dean – a brand-spanking new captain played by Mike Vogel with easy confidence, but little experience. Cue the main subject for an behind-the-cockpit romance with pretty British mystery stewardess, Bridget Pierce (Annabelle Wallis). The comic relief (not that much is needed so far) is Dean’s humorous First Lieutenant Ted, actor Michael Moseley. The plane appears spacious and luxurious, drinks are plentiful, and the smiles are generous. Despite the talent sitting up front,, it is clear from the beginning that it’s the flightcrew that keeps Pan Am flying. Aboard we meet the very easy on the eyes team of “stewardesses;” Maggie, Collette, Laura, and Kate.

In this first episode Christina Ricci makes her way back to the screen (remember Casper?) as the bohemian air hostess Maggie, purportedly grounded for a uniform violation (getting caught without her girdle) whom we overhear defending her choice of career as a means to travel the world. Flirty Collette (Karine Vanasse) is delighted to find herself unexpectedly face-to-face on the plane with a one-time lover from months earlier, and then not as thrilled to discover the passenger is a family man. Margot Robbie is the lovely, but terribly flustered, Laura. At only three weeks out of training school (and after recently leaving her fiance at the altar) she’s been placed on the cover of the Life magazine she’s handing out to travelers – as the “face of Pan Am.” The crew is completed by Laura’s older sister Kate, feisty Kelli Garner, who has a taste for espionage.

All the character are beautiful, intelligent, funny, and educated. Ted explains it best, “That table [referring to a group of stewardess] is natural selection at work – they don’t know that they are a new breed of women … they just have impulse … to take flight.” They are multi-lingual, refined, and professional ground-breakers. If the corporate streets are owned by the Mad Men of the day, the skies belong to women – these women. I’m as captivated by their retro outfits and styles as I am by the snappy, smart language – a far cry from the way typical housewives and typists are portrayed on other shows based in this time period.

Aside from the usual drama and hijinx, I’m anticipating the possibility for many “no way” moments (for lack of a better term) emerging over the course of this series. Apparently there’s no need for a fasten your seatbelts warning when turbulence is afoot, as the passengers are free to remain anywhere they like in the cabins. Common areas for relaxing while mid-flight on the airplane are provided, including benches and tables near the back windows. We even witness some champagne chugging in the galley. Executive producer Nancy Hult Ganis is said to be filling the episodes with tidbits from her 7 years worth of experience as a flight attendant, and I’m anxiously awaiting more behind the scenes delights from the bygone years. Though I’ve heard I won’t be scandalized by the sight of stewardesses lighting up while onboard.

I’m also anxious to learn more about the role this mega airline played in America’s social and political history. Pan Am promises to deliver – already including a scenario from the Bay of Pigs prisoner release and a mysterious rendezvous with US Special Intelligence. No 60′s era drama would be complete without a subplot full of Cold War spies, secrets, and intrigue.
Overall, ABC’s one-hour series premier of Pan Am was entertaining and full, but based on the late hour it aired (10pm ET) I expected a little more action. Hopefully the lukewarm pilot episode is merely laying the groundwork for bigger, more sizzling plotlines to come. Come on, I’m sure there’s at least one of you thinking that a “mile-high club” scene must be coming down the runway! High class, high balls, history, and a hottie cast – this mommy is ready for first class entertainment. Let’s fasten our seatbelts and see where Pan Am can take us!
Oh and in case you’re interested, Pan Am is still alive and well … as a luggage and clothing brand. Check out this site to score yourself some vintage cuff links or a nostalgia inducing leather flight bag for your next trip to somewhere glamorous. I’ll probably be carrying one of these at the Chicago Frequent Flyer Seminar in October!
Did anyone else catch the first episode of Pan Am? If so, what was your take? Authentic?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Josh_brooks

    I DVR’ed it, can’t wait to watch!

  • Clarkhoward007

    I loved looking at all the old stuff (Boeing 707′s, old cars, apparel, etc).

    The producers need to do some fact checking. The initial Pan Am 707 flight was in late 1958 from New York to London. Yet in the scenes (wedding) that stated 6 months prior to the initial 707 flight, one of the women was driving a 1961 or 1962 Cadillac that she smashed into the parked car. I would expect to see at the latest a 1958 automobile, not ’61 or ’62.

  • Anonymous

    Does this mean my PanAm unused $200 voucher for voluntarily
    being bumped has value now as a show prop…?

  • Toula

    I watched it and whilst I thought the attention to detail and the bygone era of glamourous travel was fun to observe, thought the storylines were particularly weak. I’ll give it another chance to see if week 2 is better, but my initial thoughts are that it fell on the lame side.

  • Kathy

    I thought the show was fun and I’s be a sucker for the glam bags! Thanks for posting!

  • Kathy

    “I’s be sounds good!” I’d be is what I meant totype. :)

  • Matthew Wilson

    Impressive observations!

  • immiLawyer

    It’s television. Whether it is a (supposedly) fictional, or even fact-based, series, or any of the millions of hours of news shows (network, cable, and local) shown daily within the U.S., people working in television NEVER let the facts stand in their way. They already have decided what they want the viewers to see.

  • thrashsoundly

    I find it interesting that in an age of serious cigarette smoking, even on planes, they won’t show it on this show. Disney policy.

  • Lifeandstylemadrid

    i enjoyed it, but i def hope it gets juicier!

  • Anonymous

    loved it…..thought they conveyed the dawn of the jet age smartly and with the class it deserved. Loved seeing how people respected travel by air and also the extreme level of customer service – after all respect goes both ways, right ?

  • MidCentModFan

    Meh! The story lines were insipid. I felt like I was watching a CGI-fest and the foreign locations looked like the Disney backlot. Totally implausible scenarios were accompanied by history refreshers (the Bay of Pigs crisis was priceless) and soaring musical crescendos. I realize this episode was the pilot, but its purpose is to capture the audience- even the plane’s pilot could not accomplish that feat.

  • MidCentModFan

    Meh! The story lines were insipid. I felt like I was watching a CGI-fest and the foreign locations looked like the Disney backlot. Totally implausible scenarios were accompanied by history refreshers (the Bay of Pigs crisis was priceless) and soaring musical crescendos. I realize this episode was the pilot, but its purpose is to capture the audience- even the plane’s pilot could not accomplish that feat.

  • Afkabp

    Too bad it’s not based on Northwest. I would love to see a D.B Cooper episode in November.

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