REVIEW: Pan Am – ABC (Sunday, 10:00 p.m.)

Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all – and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series.

In this modern world, air travel represents the height of luxury and Pan Am is the biggest name in the business. The planes are glamorous, the pilots are rock stars and the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world. Not only are these flyboys and girls young and good looking, but to represent Pan Am they also have to be educated, cultured and refined. They’re trained to handle everything from in-air emergencies to unwanted advances – all without rumpling their pristine uniforms or mussing their hair. There’s Dean (Jonah Lotan) – a cocky, charismatic and ambitious new pilot – the first of a new breed not trained in the war. On the sly against company policy, he’s dating Bridget, a stunning beauty with a mysterious past. A rebellious bohemian, Maggie (Christina Ricci) turns into a buttoned up professional for work so she can see the world. Rounding out the crew are flirtatious Collette (Karine Vanasse), the adventurous Kate (Kelli Garner) and, finally, Laura (Margot Robbie) – Kate’s beauty queen younger sister, a runaway bride, who recently fled a life of domestic boredom to take to the skies. – ABC

50 out of 100

Well, now we’re pissed.  We had very high hopes for Pan Am based on the buzz and the fantastic trailers we saw like this one.

Well, apparently those hopes were misplaced.  Pan Am  isn’t horrible it’s just not much of anything.

The biggest problem the show has is the plotlines.  There are just too damned many of them and none of them seem to have anything to do with each other nor are they particularly compelling. It’s like you are watching a bunch of different shows all at the same time and none of them are really going anywhere and every minute that they spend on an airplane is a minute we want to pull out our hair.  We’re claustrophobic just watching this.

Also, we expected this to be an exciting, fast-paced Cold War sexy, spy story.  Well, the espionage plotline is barely touched upon and when it is, it doesn’t hold your interest. Instead, we get hour upon hour of a bunch of whiny soap opera crap about sexual politics, young women with issues with their mothers, historical references squeezed into the story (they just couldn’t resist a Cuban airlift scene in the pilot), dull romances and stewardesses who unwittingly sleep with married men.

Worse, there’s nothing convincing about this show at all.  Period pieces are supposed to convince you that they are actually set in the period that they claim to be, like Mad Men or hell, even the horrific (and now canceled) The Playboy Club.  We have no doubt that this show is firmly planted in 2011 and this a big problem for a period piece.  Nothing looks like 1960 at all and they are using the worst CGI we have seen in years on television.  For crap’s sake, how expensive would it be to get an old plane and paint the Pan Am logo on the side of it?  For that matter, would it be so hard to find an old airport?

The only really redeeming factor about the show is the actors, themselves.  The show is well-cast and the cast does an excellent job with what comes down to very creatively-limited material.  The characters themselves are OK but they tend to come off as caricatures as does the show in general, which is bad when that’s not what you’re going for. The whole thing seems to be written by someone who wasn’t even alive in the 1960’s and they didn’t bother to consult with experts on the era.

At the end of the day, Pan Am isn’t awful but it’s not great, either.  Mediocre, Serviceable and Average; these are the words that come to mind for Pan Am and general audiences, very well may find it watchable… we didn’t. We got through the pilot, 20 minutes of the second episode and 20 minutes of the third episode and then subsequently removed it from the DVR schedule.

We really wanted this show to work.  It just doesn’t.

You can watch full episodes of Pan Am, here.

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