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Curious mixture of soap, social drama and silliness almost won me over
on 25 May 2013
Another one of those curiously short tv series that got cancelled mid season, this is interesting enough to wonder what it might have become as it matured. As it stands though, it has not quite found its identity - though the 14 episodes it ended up as, showed promise.
It's the beginning of the jet age, and Pan Am epitomises cutting edge sophistication. The lives of a flight crew, 4 stewardesses and the captain and co-pilot, are explored. This exploration ranges from the intriguing world of the sexual mores and burgeoning liberation of the time, a little social drama, the burgeoning feminism of the 60's, and - somewhat ludicrously - some spy drama thrown in for good measure. Starting off as more or less stand alone stories in each episode, the series seems verging to a soap opera dynamic by its close, somewhat letting the characters down with the romantic entanglements coming to the fore. If any of this sounds an intriguing mixture, within a show steeped in meticulous recreations of the period and consultants who were there and did it, then a cautionary note is that it is steeped in candy coated bubble gum style - the 60's are stylised through rose coloured glasses, and the Disney parentage means that the deeper issues that the series hints at are arguably never properly portrayed or investigated, though this does leave it watchable by a wide audience.
Somewhat of a let down then in terms of what it could have been, I'm ultimately not too disappointed that this was cancelled - and yet it was something of a guilty pleasure while it lasted thanks to an appealing cast and intriguing milieu.