Thursday, October 06, 2011
I don’t know about you but when I watched the pilot of PAN AM and they were in the air I was completely distracted by the fact that all the food was served on real plates. And the passengers appeared to have legroom. In fact, one family seemed to have their own little private section. Really? Wow. The story line had something to do with one of the stewardesses banging the guy’s husband but I was too entranced that the kid had what appeared to be his own little coffee table to draw on.
That’s the Faustian contract you sign when you try to ride MAD MEN’S coattails. Your hook is the era, the nostalgia. MAD MEN did it in reverse. Matt Weiner focused on the characters and used the time period because it best fit the story he was trying to tell. There are, from time to time, scenes of Don Draper in planes and you never wonder whether his in-flight meals will be served on china. But with PAN AM, that’s all I could concentrate on.
There was a scene where two sister stewardesses were trying to work out some deep dish issue. They were on a little couch. They had little couches? I know there were lounges in early versions of 747’s but didn’t think they had them on those planes. Where in the cabin were they located? Why weren't passengers on them?
There’s a flashback to Cuba during the Bay of Pigs Invasion where refugees are loaded onto the plane. The story line I think involves one of the stewardesses almost missing the flight and the pilot proposing. I forget whether she accepted or not. What I wanted to know was whether the refugees also got meals and were the meals the same quality and on the same plates? And were the refugees allowed to call ahead to book special meals like kosher or vegetarian?
So my big problem with PAN AM is this: what happens in week four when there’s nothing novel anymore about letting passengers visit the cockpit or seeing people actually dress up to take a flight? Are the characters strong enough? Are the stories compelling enough? Will the themes resonate? I dunno. Based on the pilot the plates win.
By Ken Levine at 5:55 AM