Monday, September 26, 2011

Pan Am Takes Flight

Pan American Worldwide Airlines commonly known as Pan Am may have gone out of business in 1991, but thanks to ABC television it now has a new life. You can find it on Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST. ABC is investing a great deal in the very ambitious project by giving this new program a sweet time slot.

I usually don’t write about new TV shows, but this time I couldn’t resist. Let’s face it. We have an abundance of crime dramas, cop shows, lawyer shows, and DA and forensic shows. I have to commend ABC for at least trying something new, innovative and fresh. Recreating the golden era of air travel will be a challenging feat. After watching the debut episode, only one word comes to mind—impressive. It is as if I wasn’t watching television but a movie from the 1960s.

I think Pan Am catches the essence by creating a somewhat “dreamy state” of what life must have been as a stewardess working on international flights in the 1960s. Pan Am definitely has a unique tone and style that you normally don’t find in television programs.

The producer and writer, Jack Orman, said, “The goal was to create a sweeping epic and wish fulfilling program.” I’m sure some critics will undoubtedly make a comparison of Pan Am to Mad Men. Both are period pieces reflecting the social issues and changes that were occurring in the 1960s. The major difference in Pan Am is the focus on female empowerment.

Although Pan Am can be described as a romanticized version of the 1960s, there is also a number of serious subplots, such as a flashback to the Bay of Pigs and an espionage angle involving the CIA, the KGB, and MI6. Producer Jack Oman says, “This isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. They did a lot of research on the issue and found “Pan Am had a very cozy relationship with the State Department.”

It’s hard to imagine a time when people actually got dressed up to fly. I mean the whole nine yards—suit and tie and fancy dresses. Flying was all about class and style. And nowhere was that more important than at Pan Am. Their flight attendants especially reflected that view. They were selling an image. Pan Am was an American icon and represented everything good that America had to offer.

Pan Am has tremendous potential to be the type of flagship program that ABC is hoping to create for its Sunday night lineup. The first show got off to a nice start, especially with the opening sequence where they recreated Pan Am’s iconic air terminal in New York City with its maiden flight of their new clipper called Majestic, which flew from New York to London. As I said, this isn’t your ordinary TV show.

Nowadays, we are all tired of flying. Getting on a plane is anything but glamorous and exciting. But perhaps we can close our eyes and imagine what it must have been like at the dawn of the jet age. The good news is we now have a new television program that will help us relive and dream of the glory days of passenger flight.

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