Pan Am: A Spectacular Crash

With the stewardesses airbrushed like Barbie dolls and the pilots with the brain of Ken, Pan Am's outlandish script never takes off.
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With the stewardesses airbrushed like Barbie dolls and the pilots with the brain of Ken, Pan Am's outlandish script never takes off.

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Pam Am is a period drama (these seem to be all the rage since modern life is so fucking depressing) set during the early 60s, or rather an alternate reality of the 1960s in which only thin, handsome people exist and all fat, ugly people were presumably banished to the underworld. This is an attempt at aspirational television, however it comes across like a drunk fish. Suffice to say; if you ever wondered what would happen if a bunch of Barbie dolls came to life and got hold of a pen, this is what they'd write. It's vacuous, shallow and borderline offensive.

The whole show is a total and utter waste of time and the central message seems to be that stewardesses were really stupid in 1963 (but not as fuckwitted as the pilots). All of the stewardesses and pilots are so "glowing" that it looks like they were varnished and then baked like conkers before each shot. Christina Ricci (continuing her ongoing project of shrinking to the size of a tiny child) barely has a part, so I assume she was cast because she is the one actress who has a name that is bigger than her own body. A more dislikeable band of flying gobshites you are never likely to see.

The soundtrack is the first thing that irritates, it's so patronising and annoying. With each twee piano note and sickly sweep of the strings, it feels like someone is telling you what the concept of music is as if you are a toddler. If this music ever came on in a lift, people would punch each other to death within seconds. I only saw it on TV and it made me want to kick my own teeth out.

The stewardess is then recruited as a top spy, which again feels like a drunk Barbie story come to life.

One thing that most American TV shows rely on heavily is a well chosen flashback. Pan Am just takes the total piss. It has four character flashbacks within the first 30 minutes, each as painful, dull and clumsily timed as the last. In one, a stewardess meets a man who works for American intelligence, and he asks if she finds that hard to believe. I would if I were her, anything associated with intelligence in this show would seem totally un-fucking-believable. The stewardess is then recruited as a top spy, which again feels like a drunk Barbie story come to life. Not to mention the fact that the plane she works on is piloted by two six-year-old boys in heat.

Pan Am also features some of the worst visual effects you are likely to see on television. The budget obviously couldn't stretch to stock footage of old planes or helicopters, instead relying on visuals worthy of a shitty Playstation One game.

If you are after a virtual timewarp representation of life in the 1960s, seek out Mad Men. It is clever, funny and beautifully played - plus their flash backs have purpose and significance. If you are after the exact opposite, seek out Pan Am (idiot) - The televisual equivalent of nailing your own hand to your face. The biggest air disaster since...take your pick. Horrible.

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