Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall TV: Pan Am

Two network shows this fall appear to be trying to ride the coattails of Mad Men's success: NBC's The Playboy Club and ABC's Pan Am. Based partially on the subject matter and partially on bad reviews, I didn't even bother checking out the former but I did watch the latter and I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Judging by the pilot, this is a very different show from Mad Men. Mad Men has this rather brooding, contemplative and sometimes even sinister atmosphere to it while Pan Am starts off with, well, quite a lot of cheery fun. We are introduced to four young, beautiful stewardesses of the erstwhile airline, and while of course there are the indignities of being a female in that era (weigh ins, girdles, etc) and various complications in their lives (mainly romantic), they love their jobs and the opportunity to be independent and travel the world in glamorous fashion.

The biggest name in the cast is Christina Ricci, who plays Maggie, a beatnik type, but interestingly she had probably the smallest part in the first episode. Kelli Garner (who I liked in that show My Generation from last season that was awful but really watchable) is Kate, who is actually a spy on the side! And I didn't recognize the actresses playing the other two women, Laura (Kate's sister who was literally a runaway bride) and Collette (French? Or French-Canadian?) but they were both pretty likable as well. There are some men on this show, too, Mike Vogel as an optimistic, good-hearted pilot, and Michael Mosely as his womanizing copilot.

I'm not that clear on where the show is going to go moving forward -- it has some soapy elements but the premiere was kind of...feel-good, which is something kind of rare in dramas these days. While the show will clearly be incorporating some real-life history (there was this odd flashback of some of the crew rescuing people from the Bay of Pigs), I kind of doubt it'll be getting too gritty. Everything is pretty...glossy. But I don't necessarily have a problem with that, so I'm definitely interested to see how things progress.

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