ABC's retro look back to the heyday of luxury air travel makes us long for free-flowing cocktails, wide aisles and tours of the cockpit. And seeing Christina Ricci on television is nothing to frown at either. With the success of Mad Men, it seems that other networks want to get in on the 1960s craze, and Pan Am does a good job of glorifying the time period. But should you begin boarding Pan Am?
Stow your tray tables, make sure your couch is in the full upright position and find out:
Pan Am (ABC)
Premieres: Sunday, Sept. 25, 10 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: CSI: Miami (CBS), NBC Sunday Night Football (NBC), Homeland (Showtime)
Cast: Christina Ricci, Margot Robbie, Michael Mosley, Karine Vanasse, Mike Vogel, Kelli Garner
Status: We've seen the pilot episode.
We're going to go ahead and apologize in advance for the number of travel puns. We just can't seem to help ourselves and blame the high altitude entirely. Buckle up!
ABC's Pan Am gives a look into the enviable lives of the Pan Am stewardess. From the iconic blue uniform to the nostalgia for the days when air travel was new and exciting, Pan Am is an escapist adventure in all the right ways. TV tells us being a stewardess in the 1960s is kind of like an all-access pass to the historical moments. And we learn that jet-setting is mostly glamorous but there are some real life job difficulties, like girdles. And turbulence. And Russian spies.
When any new show is set in the 1960s there will inevitably be comparisons to Mad Men but the time period is where the similarities stop. In Pan Am there's less Don Draper brooding and more hope for the future of the globetrotting smart capable woman.
Pan Am's main focus is on the girls. And why not? There is an array of smart independent women like Laura (Robbie), a runaway bride and accidental face of Pan Am. She's new, beautiful and of course looking to spread her wings and be free from the social constraints threatening to ground her. Laura's sister, Kate (Garner) a veteran, has what we think is the most intriguing storyline: a connection to the CIA. Hello raised stakes! And then there's Collette (Vanasse), a lively French coquette who struggles with love in the high skies. We resisted a mile-high club joke there. You're welcome.
Ricci is the most recognizable face and name of the bunch, unless you are big Justified fan like us and recognize Mosley from his explosive demise. While we may have originally raised our eyebrows at Ricci's casting, she plays the rebel-without-a-cause, artsy girl living in the Village perfectly. But there is more to her than just beatniks and berets. Ricci tells us, "[Maggie's] someone who's really looking for meaning in the world and in life." Ricci says her character "likes to have a good time and knows her way around the world."
Don't worry, ladies: There is an impossibly good-looking pilot to feast your eyes on. Of course there is. Real-life flying enthusiast Vogel plays Dean, the captain of this plane. He's what the kids would call a newbie. Vogel explains: "He's thrust into this role probably 10 to 15 years ahead of schedule, so there's a lot riding on him to prove that he is worthy of the promotion." And by the episode's end, he's nursing a broken heart that may or may not have to do with the aforementioned espionage angle.
The most surprising element of the show is the relationship to the Cold War and the significance of accessibility for well-educated adventurous women and the role they could play as global spy. Was this really a possibility? We don't know for sure. We'll suspend our disbelief for the moment because we understand a TV show can't be just champagne and transatlantic air travel, and Pan Am holds a lot of amazing storyline potential.
Verdict: Watch. It's escapist fun and there are some very fine characters that might intrigue you into a longer layover. We swear that's the last travel pun.