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PILOT REVIEW: Pan Am


Pan Am star Christina Ricci

Pan Am
“Pilot”
ABC
By Jack Orman (ER)
Grade: C

One of my favorite movies when I was younger was Casper. There was something about this immensely emo girl that just struck me. Since then, I’ve been a huge fan of Christina Ricci, from The Addams Family to Black Snake Moan. I even saw Speed Racer in theaters. So when I heard that Ricci has been cast in a new ABC pilot, my expectations were probably higher than most. Not to mention the absolute power that the Pan Am brand still holds in the American psyche. Pan Am was more than just an airline – it represented a change in the ways in which we lived our lives as Americans.

That’s the reason why writing a review for Pan Am has been so hard: it’s not a particularly good script. While I’m thankful that’s it not a typical ABC soap on a plane (though the typical ABC soap-style creeps in occasionally), the more serialized aspects of the show are oddly off-putting. It’s a strange combination, and underscores why the Pan Am brand was so important in the first place.

Co-starring with Ricci is Margot Robbie (Neighbours) as Laura, an idealistic and naïve (aren’t they all?) new flight attendant who accidentally ended up on the cover of Life magazine as “the stewardess.” Normally I would be critical of Laura’s naiveté, but it works well because of the story being told: everyone was idealistic during the early 60s, at least in regards to the American dream. The civil rights movement was in full effect, the Bay of Pigs had subsided, and Kennedy was a bright, charismatic president. The only thing that could possibly stop someone from success was themselves. It’s almost as brilliant of a premise to represent the 1960s as Mad Men‘s advertising agency. And up until a certain point, everything clicks: the dialog, the writing, the storylines. It felt right.

I don’t want to spoil the “twist,” but the more serial elements (that actually will be the procedural element of the show as well) completely ruin the potential for a though-provoking piece on life during the 1960s. It’s not completely out of nowhere, but it took the pilot to a place I was hoping it would avoid. And since the most important part of a period drama is this examination of life during a certain period, adding this isn’t what the pilot needed. It takes away from the ability for the narrative to mature. Maybe Pan Am will evolve into its potential, but introducing this element as the cliffhanger of the show basically solidifies that this aspect will dominate the series’s narrative. It’s unfortunate, too, because there’s a strong cast here. I’ll obviously still watch it for my girl Christina, but it’ll be begrudgingly.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Pan Am  – C Once Upon a Time – C- Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23 Hallelujah The River […]

  2. Can you please review Brave New World next?

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