Pan Am Reviews - The Next 'Mad Men'?
Last night saw a brand new series on BBC2, Pan Am, hoping to pick up an audience nostalgic for the saucy hemlines, cherry-red lipstick and slicked-back glamour of 1960s New York, when the US airline was at the height of its success.
The team behind the big-budget production is impressive enough - written by Jack Orman (ER), directed by Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing), produced by Nancy Hult Ganis, a former Pan Am flight attendant.
The BBC kicked off with a double bill last night, with some interesting period-signifying storylines, for example, one stewardess on probation for not wearing her girdle in the workplace.
Stars include Christina Ricci, Margot Robbie and Michael Mosley, and a life-size recreation of a Pan Am 707 jet, which Entertainment Weekly magazine described as "the biggest star of the series -in all senses".
With the swish of their crisp uniforms, the beautiful filming, and the impressive New York, Roman and London skylines, it certainly looks glamorous enough, but is there a story to match? Here are some of the first reviews doing the rounds after last night's debut episode:
"The honey-glazed Sixties setting, the intimidatingly immaculate attire, the meticulous accuracy - at first glance Pan Am (BBC Two), the new US airline drama, looks remarkably like Mad Men. It’s no wonder the 13-part show, which landed in the UK tonight with a double bill, has been breathlessly compared to Matthew Weiner’s superlative advertising drama. .
"Whereas Mad Men is a clever, nuanced take on the steady evolution of gender equality, Pan Am is about as subtle as a Boeing 747. It’s bubblegum television: glossy and superficial"
"...winsome, corny and, at heart, hollow. Watching it, I realised how much I miss Mad Men."
"They endure grooming'n'girdle checks and weigh-ins before every flight, and a script as inert and useless as a grounded jet.
"I don't know if the makers of Mad Men are sitting on their sofas clinking champagne glasses and laughing their asses off or gazing in disbelief at the horror they have inadvertently spawned, but this viewer slid off hers and slumps to the floor with my monkey friends, united in our animal despair."
It has all the psychological depth of a school story in Bunty. The sexism of the show is partly period set-dressing, of course, but it's also unwittingly absorbed, so that at one moment the show can be detailing the humiliations of being treated as in-flight eye-candy and at the next parading its stars for inspection in slow-mo, like a waterless synchronized swimming team.
"The story-lines are so silly that you're unlikely to make it more than halfway through the first flight without wondering why it's taking so long to get to the destination. Then you begin to wonder whether it was ever going anywhere in the first place. I'd rather travel Ryanair."