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TV Review: Pan Am – The Season Thus Far

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Pan Am is a new period drama that appears Sundays on ABC that revolves primarily around the lives of four Pan Am stewardesses, although the pilots are a large part of the story as well. This is one of those shows that started out as “just okay,” in my opinion, but over the past five episodes has evolved quickly into one of the best shows on television today.

Pan Am isn’t just good these days – it’s a serious contender for multiple Emmy nominations.

In the first episode, the script for Pan Am almost seemed a little too eager to tell everyone the back story about this airline, the dawn of the jet age, and the characters. Since then, the show has really hit its stride. We’re still discovering more about each of the characters, but it has become a part of the story instead of an intrusion into it.

The show is set in 1963; a lot of important historical events that happening around that time. The Cold War was getting hotter. JFK delivered his famous speech in Berlin. The civil rights and feminist movements were getting started. One of the incredible things about Pan Am is that it has managed to walk a very fine, but important line: it includes these things in its story, but still keeps the emphasis on its main characters.

In this sense, Pan Am is similar to movies such as Forrest Gump or other television shows like The West Wing. It incorporates historical events into the plot, but still keeps its emphasis on these fascinating characters that are the stars of the show.

The fact that Pan Am can seem a bit Wing Wing-ish at times, by the way, isn’t a mere coincidence, by the way. One of the executive producers for the show is Thomas Schlamme, who directed fourteen episodes of The West Wing and served as executive producer of that show.

This is where the show has come over the past five episodes. If you haven’t seen all five already, please don’t worry. They’re all available to watch on-line.

As for the future, this week’s episode Maggie’s (Christina Ricci) stewardess career is threatened after having pulled one too many instances of rebelling against authority – and we learn the secrets lurking in her past that she will stop at nothing to protect. Niko (Goran Visnjic), the Yugoslavian diplomat, can’t get enough of Kate (Kelli Garner). Maggie’s problems only escalate after being arrested with Laura (Margot Robbie) and stranded in a foreign jail. The dangerous affair that Dean (Mike Vogel) began with Ginny (Erin Cummings) in Monte Carlo becomes too hot to handle as the adventurous crew of Pan Am flies down to Rio.

Pan Am airs Sunday, October 30 at 10:00 PM ET/PT on ABC.

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About Frank Nemecek

Freelance writing, indie filmmaker, and all around pain in the...
  • Sabrina

    Am Emmy? From your mouth to God’s ears! LOVE this show and I hope it stays on the air for a long, long time!

  • HBarca

    An Emmy? Not likely. Avoiding cancellation is the main goal right now. The writing is terrible, which is one of the reasons ABC is bringing in a new showrunner. At least they see the potential. Cross your fingers.

  • ju

    do u think this might b a one season show?

  • Kim_EBL

    As a former Pan Am flight attendant, it has been a joy to relive the days when flying was glamorous and an adventure. The show answers a strong desire for travel to be fun again. Since the airlines can’t or won’t fill that need, TV is filling the gap. The show has room for improvement, but I am hopeful it will get there in time.

  • BA Miller-Stacey

    Sure hope that PAN AM, the new ABC series makes it to “cruising altitude”. It is a wonderful premise for a show, capturing the Golden Age of Flying! As a former Pan Am stewardess there just needs a little fine tuning. Hopefully an older, wiser Captain in the left seat. I never remember any 707 crew that young! Though it would have been nice. Good Luck!

  • Ivan

    last time i watch an aviation show was Airwolf! its 2011 its about time we have a show like this… theres alot of people that loves the Aviation industry…

  • Carole

    The show is great. I’ve watched every episode. The best show on TV.

  • Mary

    The flashbacks should be made clearer. If you blink your eyes you don’t catch the date at the bottom and I get confused. Otherwise, a great show.

  • B7074evr

    This show is a refreshing change from the ever present law enforcement dramas. How many ways can you dig up a body or discharge a firearm? This is much more interesting. Let’s hope it survives it’s first flight.

  • Well, the good news is that ABC has ordered 5 more episodes of “Pan Am.” That certainly doesn’t guarantee that this show will survive, but it’s a good sign.

  • Lenny

    Last night was total crap!! And I won’t be watching any more…

  • Doris

    Why is Cristina Ricci the “star” of this show? She is sooo not believable as a Pan Am stewardess. First of all, she’s too short. Her eyes bulge, and she’s acts too flirtatious and slutty. The other girls are far more beautiful, especially Laura and Colette. Ricci is irritating to look at.

  • Jimmy

    I think the most believable as a 1963 Pan Am stewardess is Colette – a class act all the way.

  • anonymous

    the show so far is great. what is going to happen between laura and the sailor?
    it is a shame people have to be prejudice/racists just because laura isinlove with some one of another race/color. I would like to see more of laura and the sailor together.

    it is great, hope it stays on

  • Maggie

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, this show! History, drama, romance, pretty people – what’s not to love? PLEASE ABC, don’t cancel this…It’s too good

  • Maggie

    Me again – Tell your friends to watch this show and BUY the products on the commercials!

  • Ott

    I DVR the show. after the football game, then I watch it.

  • Ann stevens

    Pam Am is a great show and show what flying was like when standards were very high in the Airline Industry. I sure hope it remains on the air.

  • It was announced on Pan Am’s Facebook page yesterday that they are back for a full season.

    Next up? Getting them renewed for a 2nd season.

  • Ed Parrey

    Subject: Pan Am TV Series 2011-2012

    There are many books written by former Pan Am stewardesses and pilots. They all seem to have their stories very much in common and soon become by themselves repetitious.

    Pan Am stewardesses, while important and necessary to the benefit, welfare and safety of passengers, are not all there was to Pan Am.

    What is desperately missing were interesting, adventurous and exciting factual stories which begin on the ground.

    For instance, the public would be interested to know how potential stewardesses and other supporting employees were hired.

    As a former PanAm Station Manager, who came up from the ranks, let it be known that applicants indicating having been bored would not be hired for any position. For stewardess prospects, there are grueling, difficult stress interviews which are extremely selective. Let us not forget the hundreds of thousands of employees who made Pan Am the greatest airline by also working in ‘Passenger Service’, ‘Freight and Mail’, ‘Commissary’, Communication’, ‘Reservation’, ‘Ticketing’, ‘Operations’, ‘Administration’, and ‘Special Services’. With these and other departments; it was all of them who made an effective Pan Am.

    Viewers would like to travel along with the stories; from Baghdad to Berlin; from New York JFK to Nuremberg and more. Now it can be told about the good and the ugly of yesteryear. Just some of the problems from those days, were embezzlement, money laundering, smuggling, stowaways and much more with emphasis to keep these items from becoming knowledge to the stockholders. There was one passenger able to bring in massive amounts of pure heroin, all with the knowledge of US Customs. Also of interest was a former Nazi criminal working as a Pan Am personnel chief and comptroller at one of the largest airports.

    These and many others are real stories. No fillers or additional fantasy needed.

    I wrote a book “Pan Am and Beyond – Turbulence on the Ground” which became a best seller at Amazon in 2000. My purpose was to reestablish contact with former colleagues, employees and friends again.

    This book can now be obtained as an e-Book for only $2.99 through:

    Amazon (for Kindle) which also lists 22 reviews; Barnes & Noble (for NOOK); Apple (for iPad) and Reader Store (for Sony Reader). I do not expect a profit from any sales. Just enjoy the book.

    Ed Parrey