Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pan Am - One of the Best New Shows on TV

Article first published as TV Review: Pan Am - The Season Thus Far on Blogcritics.

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.

The Pan Am Stewardesses
In the first episode, the script for Pan Am almost seemed 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 and there were 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.

Christina Ricci in Pan Am
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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