Pan Am–I’ve Lost My Boarding Pass

"Coming up next--a reboot of 'Friends' set at The Gaslight Cafe" (starring Shia LaBeouf as Bob Dylan!)

I’m not the hoped-for demographic, of this I’m certain. Even so, six episodes in and I think they’re already struggling.

First of all, there’s not enough Christina Ricci. Now I bet she’s been hired for marquee value and limited set-time but she is the most interesting performer on the screen in this cast and every time she’s pushed to the sidelines I can’t help but think it is an opportunity lost.

The male leads are dull, the characters not terribly interesting and not once have I heard an appropriately inappropriate “cockpit” joke so, you know, they’re just not trying.

The spy angle is already wearing thin. I think they need more of an arc, not necessarily season-wide, but a good four episode cloak-and-dagger sub-plot that will provide cliffhangers enough to bring viewers back that they are clearly hemorrhaging by the week (anywhere from one to four million a week).

A tough one here but the show looks bad: the show creators have set themselves a high possibly unachievable bar with the international jet-setting environment of the stewardess life, but the same way that all New York streets on Seinfeld look like the Los Angeles backlot they were clearly shot on, each luxurious foreign hotel courtyard looks strikingly similar, with matching fountains it would seem. Unlike Seinfeld, this does interfere with the suspension of disbelief. On the last episode I watched, the plane landing in Rio looked intentionally bad. I mean Airplane! bad.

The “complex” timelines in each episode play like an attempt to make the show look smarter than it is. I know it’s not fair to judge this, or any network show, against Mad Men, but I think the execution of these episodes is always done with Matthew Weiner’s show in mind. And if they can’t engage the audience on a more intellectual level then the creative team seems to feel a need to dazzle with fractured flashes both backward and forward. This only works in the most accomplished hands and otherwise is the dramatic equivalent of jazz hands.

Is the show salvageable? Yes, if they could decide what kind of show it is to be. Either go for the juicy, soapy approach (on both the Pan Am side and the espionage side) or break the other way. But as long as Don Draper is around, and they remain on network television, the former is a better choice.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s