Sunday, November 29, 2020

PAN AM: NICE TAKE-OFF, SO-SO DEPARTURE

September 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ABC’S Pan Am, which attracted a solid 10.1 million viewers on its first flight Sunday, drew mixed reviews, with most critics complaining that it did not represent much of a departure from formula. Most compared it — unfavorably — with AMC’s Mad Men, which is also set in the early 1960s. “The difference is that Pan Am romanticizes the past, whereas Mad Men, on AMC, takes pleasure in slyly mocking antiquated morés,” wrote Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times. “Viewers may not see anything particularly fresh about this show’s foursome of stewardesses, however. The Pan Am heroines represent the dawning of the women’s movement, an they are not fully formed characters so much as stick figures borrowed from a Rona Jaffe novel,” she adds. Robert Lloyd in the Los Angeles Times reacted similarly. “Like Mad Men, Pan Am is about glamour, but unlike Mad Men, there’s no critique attached. This is not a story of manufactured desire and empty illusions. The glamour in Pan Am may indeed be manufactured — doubly manufactured, given the re-created places and planes — but it’s not empty. The show says, yes, this is as good as it looks.” Hank Stuever in the Washington Post disagrees — but not strongly. “Save for some obvious Mad Men envy,” he writes, “there’s nothing really wrong with the show, which quickly becomes a handsome study in perfect mediocrity.” But David Wiegand in the San Francisco Chronicle withholds final judgement. Noting that the female characters — the stewardesses — did the “heavy lifting” in the first episode, Wiegand asks, “Will there be enough lifting to sustain the series beyond its visual appeal? That’s a big question.”