The Rebirth of a Legend: Pan Am
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I’ll admit that when I first saw the trailers for ABC’s new comedy/drama, Pan Am, I wasn’t
too intrigued. Sure, the cast was made up to look as if they were about to board a trans-Atlantic flight from the 60’s, but beyond
that, I didn’t see much else that interested me. And that’s saying a lot since I am obsessed with planes, airports, and travel. So
the pilot aired and I didn’t watch.
Well, in January, ABC generously made the first nine
episodes of the season available free for digital download (they're still available if you want to grab a freebie). So I went to the
iTunes store, my default for entertainment, and downloaded all nine episodes (a bargain, since episodes of shows on iTunes are priced
at $1.99 to $2.99). Let’s just say I clicked play and in no time at all I was glued to the screen.
Pan Am takes viewers back to the good old days in the euphoria of the jet age, the introduction of the Boeing 707, and the “international
beauty and grace that [was] the Pan Am Stewardess”. In the pilot, we’re introduced to the cast. Mike Vogel (Sisterhood of the Traveling
Pants) plays Captain Deal Lowry; a young, ambitious, and impetuous pilot who jumped seniority in the Pan Am lineup and got himself
the captain's chair onboard the brand new Clipper Majestic. Michael Mosley (The Proposal) acts as Ted Vanderway, Lowry’s first officer
(and heads up, he's got his green eye on Lowry's left seat). As for the stewardesses, Margot Robbie (Neighbours) plays the Laura Cameron,
Kellie Garner (G-Force) plays Kate Cameron, Karine Vanasse (Midnight in Paris) plays Collette Valois, and finally, Christina Ricce
(Sleepy Hollow) is the hot-headed purser Maggie Ryan.
The pilot opens with a clear shot
of the tailfin of a Boeing 707 (computer generated) in Pan Am livery, zooming out to show the jet taxing into a stall at the Pan Am
(now Delta-owned Terminal 3) World Port at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. Buddy Grecco’s “Around The World” plays as the camera
zooms into the terminal and we get our first glimpse of evidence that we’ve gone back in time.
Travelers of all ages walk through the terminal, all dressed to the nines. We've just stepped back into the days when the journey
was just as much anticipated as the destination. Beautiful people walk through the terminal, luggage is checked through to destinations
around the world: London, Tokyo, Rio, and Paris, to name a few.
The first dialogue we hear
is a stewardess reading from an issue of Life Magazine. Life has noticed the jet age and hasn't let the opportunity slip by to do
a cover story on it. The stewardess reads to two friends as they walk through the Pan Am offices. "Clipper jet service is unique.
Upon boarding, passengers are greeted by the international beauty and grace that is the Pan Am stewardess. Girls are all college educated
and may fly until they are married or turn thirty-two."
The camera pulls away from the
girls and onto Laura Cameron, the “face of Pan Am”. A photographer from Life Magazine had shot Laura’s picture as she exited the flight
school just after graduation. Soon after, that picture would appear on the covers of American and British Life Magazine, to Laura's
embarrassment. Laura says multiple times in the pilot and subsequent episodes that "I'm not that picture." Laura is a new-hire at
Pan Am, having only flown three weeks and two days before being assigned to a crew with much more experienced stewardesses, which
has been chosen to fly the brand new Clipper Majestic (a brand new Boeing 707 jet) under the lead of Captain Dean Lowry. In this respect
both she and Dean, Captain Lowry, are out of their element, being these two relatively low-seniority Pan Am employees that had a stroke
of luck that put them in a pretty good place (more on Dean later, though).
It’s not long
before we meet her slightly older, redheaded sister, Kate Cameron (Kellie Garner). Kate, as we later find out, has always been the
black sheep of the family, always having lived in the shadow of her little sister. Judith (Judy) Cameron, the girls' mother, has always
fawned over Laura while disregarding Kate and her “silly costume” (her definition of Kate’s Pan Am uniform). She describes Kate's
job as "galavanting around the world." and "serving drinks to strange men." Kate, meanwhile, has always felt the need to protect the
young and naive Laura from the ideas of their mother.
We learn that Laura ran out on her
Fiancé at their wedding because she realized that she was only twenty two and had never had any great adventures. Kate tells her as
they pull out of the driveway (jumping the curb) that she'll take her anywhere she wants to go, and show her anything she wants to
see. Laura says that she wants to see the world and inadvertently vows to become a Pan Am stewardess. Kate, slams on the brakes and
looks at her. She later admits to being upset that Laura "followed her into the uniform".
Kate isn't all just pretty red hair and a slight inferiority complex wrapped up in the Pan Am suit and hat, though. There's a lot
more than meets the eye with this young stewardess. We find out that Kate is a secret agent of sorts for the CIA. You see, "A Pan
Am stewardess can travel around the world without suspicion." the perfect guise for a covert courier. Her managing agent Richard gives
her first assignment to her. Richard, like all the other guys and gals on the show is as handsome as handsome gets. He's got style,
he's got class, and he's got a few secrets up his sleeve. It's not unthinkable that he and Kate may end up as lovers at some point
down the line. But daydreaming aside, Richard assigns Kate to switch the visas in a passenger's suitcase so that British MI6 officials
can stop him at customs upon their arrival in London. Kate succeeds In her mission, only to find out that it was merely a test to
see if she's capable of doing the dirty deeds the CIA will demand of her. That man that was to be stopped by MI6? Well he turns out
to be MI6. His name is Anderson, and he will be her contact on the ground in London,
the pilot goes on, we meet Collette and get a little look into her Pam Am bag. Collette is a French stewardess who enjoys the company
of men. Onboard the Clipper Majestic's maiden voyage is a devastatingly handsome man named John, with whom she had an intimate encounter
with earlier in Rome. John, however, is married with a young son. The flight then becomes an awkward walk across the pond for Collette
and John as his wife tries to engage in conversation and activity with Collette, seemingly unaware that Collette has had intimate
relations with her husband.
All in all, Pan Am may just be a hit. Granted, there are a
few things that the production staff needs to work on (can we speed things up a little bit in the plotline?), but all in all if Pan
Am returns for a second season, you can guarantee I’ll be watching and waiting (impatiently). Rumors had it that ABC had cancelled
the show midseason, though producers of the show have denied such and stated that they do indeed plan on producing all thirteen episodes
for the first season.
Pan Am is one of the best new shows to hit the air this season. If
you haven't yet, go onto iTunes and download the first few episodes. If you, like me, get hooked, then tune into ABC on Sundays at
10PM. Fasten your seatbelt and stow your tray tables, ladies and gentlemen, the legendary Pan American World Airways is back and ready
to take flight.