(Tampa, FL) “Pan Am” is set in the early 1960s (1963) when women’s choices for a career were limited to teaching, nursing or becoming a stewardess, now flight attendants. For those who did not want a career they either married young, went to college or become a beauty queen to catch a husband. With the highly successful TV series “Mad Men”, set in the early 60s, it was only a matter of time for other networks to jump on the bandwagon to the glorious times of the Kennedy Administration often known as “Camelot.” “Pan Am” made its spectacular debut on ABC (WFTS Channel 11) at 10 p.m. ET. Its storyline focuses on four stewardesses and two pilots, though other characters will come and go. This will inevitably be a jet-setting primetime soap opera.
We are introduced to the main characters at the JFK terminal and inside the cabin before takeoff on Pan Am’s inaugural Clipper Majestic. The beautiful Laura has just made the cover of Life magazine. She is also a runaway bride since stewardesses cannot be married and they must leave their position at age 32. Laura’s sister Kate is always in the background. She is a bit resentful they are on the same flight.
Collette, who is French, likes getting involved with the male passengers whether they’re married or not. Finally, there is Maggie, played by Christina Ricci in a glamorous role for a change, yet her character is the beatnik type with a bohemian boyfriend. Maggie is called on in the last second to replace the mysterious Bridget who does not show up for duty.
Throughout the show we get to know more of the characters backstories like Bridget almost getting stranded in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs prisoners release where the Pan Am crew took them to Miami. Dean, the captain on Pan Am, is a new generation of pilots who didn’t have wartime experience. He proposes to Bridget while in Cuba where she cannot give him an answer yet. Dean’s co-pilot Ted is one we are sure to get to know soon enough. There is a another subplot that takes on a 007 James Bond like setting.
One thing that was apparent during the one-hour pilot episode was the beautiful shade of blue in the girl’s uniforms. They were all tailored to fit their bodies like a gloves while carrying their Pan Am travel bags. Everyone else was dressed to the nines. Pan Am was an international airline going to the most exotic and fabulous countries in the world. It was the airline to the celebrities, politicians and other well-known personalities. It was great hearing music from that era, especially the closing song “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin. When you watch “Pan Am” you can’t help but think this was at time when only the wealthy could afford to fly. It seemed so fun and carefree then.