“The Genuine Article”

Posted on October 31, 2011

Well, now we know why Pan Am’s ostensible star, Christina Ricci, has been spending a puzzling amount of time in the background so far. It was so they could do this character-defining episode. We’ve been complaining since the first episode about the curious lack of Christina and while this episode was a welcome chance to fill in a lot of the blanks on her character Maggie, we couldn’t help thinking that we were supposed to be a lot more shocked with the reveals. It’s one thing to present a character as one way and then pull the rug out from under the viewer because Everything You Know is a LIE, but that’s not really what we got here. It’s not like Maggie was defined as an erudite, worldly, educated type up till now, making the reveal that she’s from humble origins and basically conned her way into everything she’s got all that much more titillating. Maggie was largely undefined and the most we could say about her prior to this episode was that she was the sassy one. Well, now she’s the sassy one who lied on her resume. We think we’re supposed to find that captivating, but this isn’t even close to the Don Draper/Dick Whitman reveal it’s so obviously mimicking.

If anything interesting came out of this story, it was the revelation that Maggie is not a particularly nice character. Backed up against the wall, she somehow parlayed her knowledge of Dean’s affair into a method of keeping her job. We’re not quite sure how she did that or what the fallout of that action will be, but it sets her apart from the plucky Kate and Laura, as well as the cooly sophisticated (and still TRAGICALLY UNDERUSED) Colette. This is definitely a group that needs a little conflict to make it interesting. We think it would be boring to make Maggie into some sort of villain, but she suddenly became a lot more interesting when it became clear that she’ll screw people over to save herself. And Laura came off a bit like a petulant child, which is another necessary bit of character-building. She may have taken control of her life, but she still has a tendency to be childishly judgmental, especially of her heroines. We’re just happy they didn’t spend any time on the Ted thing this week. Any story for Laura that doesn’t have to do with how she’s reacting to various men is a good thing.

Kate’s still a favorite, though. Probably because she has the best wardrobe – seriously, she looked fabulous sitting on that park bench talking to her hot CIA contact – and has the most consistently fun storylines. We keep saying this, but the silly, glossy, glamorous stuff like Cold War – era spying is perfect for this show and immediately sets it apart from Mad Men. It’s just fun watching Kate get to be a spy. In fact, we think we would have enjoyed a much higher concept version of this show; a sort of Charlie’s Angels meets Love Boat by way of Happy Days, with all the female characters working for the CIA and posing as stewardesses. Silly? Sure, but it beats the hell out of watching bland Dean get pissy with his girlfriend. Give us Kate in a pencil skirt making out with a hot Hungarian in a skinny suit and that’s half the battle won right there, as far as we’re concerned. Give Maggie some more bite to her like we saw this episode, drop Ted and Dean out an emergency exit, give Laura a story that’s not about how pretty she is, and GIVE COLETTE HALF OF EVERY EPISODE TO BE FABULOUS and you’d have a perfect show.

As it is, it’s still floundering, we’re sorry to say. A couple good moments here and there, but it’s still not shaping up to a consistently engaging whole. We’re enjoying Revenge and American Horror Story way more than Pan Am and that surprises the hell out of us.

And yes, we think we will pick up blogging those last two.

    • Sobaika Mirza

      YES.

      Can’t wait to read your thoughts on Revenge and American Horror Story! Both are heavier on style than substance but at least there’s some sort of plot/character development to latch on to.

      • Terence Ng

        LOVE American Horror Story. LOVE. IT.

      • Anonymous

        I second all of this. These are my two favorite new fall shows – especially AHS!

        • Anonymous

          Yay for AHS blogging! I should probably check out Revenge as well. 

    • Sobaika Mirza

      Oh, and Pan Am is pretty much the definition of wasted potential.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emily-Smith/12431153 Emily Smith

      ooo please blog american horror story, we don’t have cable lol.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emily-Smith/12431153 Emily Smith

        oh shiz it’s on hulu, jk.  problem solved.  yay for the interwebs!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

      Isn’t that the kind of background you expected for Maggie? And wasn’t Laura’s reaction EXACTLY what you expected? That’s what makes this show so boring, but I can not quit on Christina and Kate’s squeeze.

      Can’t wait to hear what you guys have to say about everyone’s secret pleasure (it would seem), Revenge.

    • Anonymous

      American Horror Story–hooray! I started watching because you guys mentioned it was one of your favorites out there. Caught up on all but one last night. Holy moses, that’s some creepy sh**! Guess I’ll have to start on the Revenges I’ve saved so I can catch up with that one, too.

    • http://twitter.com/Gothama1 Liz H.

      You’re going to blog about Revenge? Oh that makes my day!  I just caught up on that show and I’m learning that everyone needs a little bit of “I will destroy you and everything you love” villainy in their week. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1469133250 Patricia McMahon

      Yes! Please blog on “Revenge” – you can criticize the fashion and snark about the characters at the same time. Wash it down with a few dry martinis and it will be perfect.

    • http://profiles.google.com/edjerkins Erin Jerkins

      Oh God, please please please blog American Horror Story! I like Revenge, too, but I think your talents would make AHS infinitely more eojoyable. 

    • http://modernretrowoman.com DrJulieAnn

      The mistress character annoys me.  I don’t even know the character’s name!  That story thread was DOA except to help Maggie keep her job.

      I want Kate’s wardrobe and hair stylist, please.

      • Anonymous

        Oh yeah, that mistress is so annoying.  OMG kissing the door omg. 

    • David Means

      I enjoy your recaps on “Pan Am” and “Walking Dead”, but I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to start blogging on Revenge”. I think your take on “Revenge” would bring a whole other layer to the show for all of us. PRETTY PLEASE consider it. I’ll add a little something extra in your tip basket if you take on “Revenge” :-)

    • Anonymous

      Hope to see you blogging AHS, what a strange and weirdly engaging freak show!  I may lose it a while in the battle between DirecTV and FOX, so your blogging the show now would be most timely and appreciated!

    • Anonymous

      I’m absolutely loving American Horror Story…would really like to see your take on it.  4 episodes into it…a lot of ground to cover!  (get busy…lol ;) )

      I’ll admit that I lost interest in Pan Am a few episodes ago, stopped watching. Still time to catch up if it’s worth it…is it?

    • Anonymous

      I watched the first two episodes of this show. I thought it was cancelled.  It should have been.

    • http://needtherapy.tumblr.com skadi1

      YAY! I just started watching Revenge, and I’m already obsessed with it. PLEASE recap, the way only you two can.

    • Anonymous

      So glad you’re going to do Revenge!  The clothes alone are worth it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.  As for this episode: meh.  Need more Colette.  It’s getting harder for me to pay attention to the show.  Sad, b/c I so want to like it!

    • Anonymous

      Not only would I love for TLo to start blogging revenge, I’d love for TLo to host Talking Mad Men (an after show like Talking Dead).  Make it happen, TLo!  

    • michelle shields

      I’ll keep watching just for something to do when I’m bored.
      Funny how American Horror Story and Revenge seem to take over the comment section! We love AMH and are hoping Direct TV gets off the pot and decides to keep FX in their lineup.

    • r0ckmypants

      YES! So excited you’re going to be blogging Revenge! It’s my favorite new show of the season.

    • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

      Oh yeah, the minute they did the ‘reveal’ of Maggie’s early life, I was like, ‘Mad Men theft, Mad Men theft!!’ Maybe we’ll get an episode like that for Colette – that’s what I’m thinkin’. Aside from that, I think all your notes should be forwarded directly to the producers so they can make the needed adjustments. Especially the part about throwing the males out the emergency exit. Seriously, are there two more boring guys on TV right now? They didn’t make the gals on Mad Men boring just because Don was the main character? Whassup with that?

    • Anonymous

      Yay!  I’m glad you’re going to be covering Revenge and American Horror Story.  I wanted to ask, but assumed that would be obnoxious.  
      My week isn’t complete until I see Ben Harmon cry. 

    • BerlinerNYC

      Can’t wait for the AHS blogs. Every gay I know in NY can’t stop talking about it. It’s like a compulsion. I certainly can’t stop talking about how I have becomme obsessed with Dylan McDermott; in fact, here I am doing it now!

    • Leonardo Alves

      As a Brazilian from Rio, I have to say I was quite disappointed! Knowing that Rio was one of the Pan Am destinations, I was looking forward to see what would they come up with in my country. They couldn’t even find a proper Portuguese-speaking extra! Maggie’s step father was saying some kind of mix between Spanish and Galician. The music played when they were in Rio was not at all Brazilian and they streets looked more like Cuba…
      I know the production of the show is not so good. We saw already their awful depiction of Berlin… but at least the extras were speaking proper German in that episode!

    • Anonymous

      And….I forgot to watch, AGAIN! Actually, I went to bed about 8:45 last night because I needed sleep. I’ll watch online this week. But even before I see the episode, I have to say I haven’t really liked Maggie as a character, and now with the villainous qualities you talk about, I may like her even less. I wish there were more Colette.

      • http://modernretrowoman.com DrJulieAnn

        I wouldn’t call her villainous–just scared and so she will do what it takes to ensure her survival. 

        • Anonymous

          OK. Hopefully I’ll have some time on Wednesday or Thursday to take a look at it. I’ll comment more intelligently at that time (I’ll probably say something like, I want Sanjeev!”

          • http://modernretrowoman.com DrJulieAnn

            Puhleez…like you have to watch the episode to say that?  Me?  I’m crushing on Nicco big time.  Just don’t tell The Mister, okay?  It’ll be our little secret (and everyone else who reads this comment)

            • Anonymous

              Oh man, Niko (or Nicco). Between the two of them, there’s no need at all for Dean. Like TLo said, just send him out the emergency exit row. We can keep Ted. He’s interesting enough.

            • http://modernretrowoman.com DrJulieAnn

              No, you’re right, it is spelled Niko.  Apparently I was having a blonde moment.

              Dean’s character is just so blah and his storyline isn’t much better. 

    • Anonymous

      how I wish you would do the Good Wife.  for my birthday?

    • http://twitter.com/pinup_ghoul Pinup Ghoul

      I still love Pan Am. It’s everything I like, really. And it’s sort of light and fluffy. I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV, so I don’t have the energy to get very involved in a plot. Pan Am is perfect for viewers like me. I’m busy, I love vintage fashion and period dramas and social dramas with a touch of comedy. It’s also primarily episodic, which is even better. I can just flip on an episode at random and know exactly what’s happening. Works for me! I’ll likely always be a Pan Am fan, though I’m way too short to actually be a stewardess, if time machines are ever invented.

      Thanks for blogging it, fellas! It’s very much appreciated!

    • Anonymous

      The fact that you guys have decided to blog Revenge has made my day, neé, the REST OF MY YEAR! Thank you!

      That show is so damn delicious!

    • Anonymous

      Thrilled you’ll be blogging Revenge. (Seems fitting somehow after this awful season of Project Runway.) Anyway, I love Revenge. All that’s been missing is the ability to come here to read your comments about it. 

    • Guest

      I was hoping that Maggie’s deal would be that she’s working for some underground counterculture group gathering intel so they could bring down the system from within.    But no, she’s a Don Draper wannabe who just wanted to get out of Kansas, or wherever it was.  

      Also…this is nitpicky I know, but, if the CIA has the resources to monitor and control Kate’s every move…then…why do they even need Kate? Seems like they really aren’t short staffed.

      • Anonymous

        Weird, that was me…I posted and then tried to edit and then it said “guest” without changing my edit! 

      • http://modernretrowoman.com DrJulieAnn

        Because we need Kate for the delicious spy-related eye candy.  The Pan Am guys are meh, but those guys from the spy story are enough to keep me coming back for more!

    • Anonymous

      Yay yay, yay! I have tried not to like AHS, because I make it a rule not to watch series. But, I like it. It’s hooked me. It’s the first series since Swingtown and Freaks and Geeks to do that. (Yes, really, I watch almost no television on a regular basis.)

      Am still hopeful for Pan Am. 

    • Rick Aiello

      Please please please please PLEASE review Revenge!!!  I LOVE that show so much, and think your take on it would be incredibly fun.

      Add “Once Upon a Time” and I’d love you forever. Not that I don’t already. :)

    • Anonymous

      And yes, we think we will pick up blogging those last two

      Yay! Revenge is far and away my favorite new show this season. I just hope they can figure out what to do for a second season.

    • margaret meyers

      So, she’s a female Don Draper, redefining herself and climbing through the 50s-60s gaps in the social ladder.

      • Anonymous

        You make it sound almost interesting.

    • MilaXX

      Still don’t care about the guys. Going to catch up on revenge, but I’ll need to read a few more recaps before giving AHS another shot. Didn’t like that one at all.

    • Anonymous

      Oh yay! The minions will have oodles of fun reading your takes on Revenge and The Jessica Lange Show. 

      As far as PanAm goes Kate’s story is more interesting than Maggie’s back story. Laura is such a pouty whiner I keep expecting her to cry and suck her thumb as she tucks herself into bed. My tolerance for her character is just about maxed out. And where the hell do they keep hiding Colette? She’s by far the best thing about the show and you rarely see her anymore. Pull the plug on the pilots. Please. I’m actually surprised I took the time to type that out since my interest in the show is quite nominal now. If I miss parts of it I’m not bothered at all. On the other hand I don’t miss a minute of American Horror Story. I don’t dare.

    • MilaXX

      FYI – If people want to catch on American Horror Story Halloween there’s a marathon starting tonight at 10 on FX. 

    • Anonymous

      Revenge!  You will justify my guilty pleasure at last!

    • http://nildita.livejournal.com/ nildita

      Even though it’s still all over the place, I immediately watch Pan Am the following day. I’m still hoping it will become something great.

      I read this blog all the time, but reading this line: “And yes, we think we will pick up blogging those last two” made me squeal like a little girl! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Revenge!

    • http://twitter.com/KathleenGillies Kathleen Gillies

      Virtually jumping for joy that you are blogging Revenge, my visual box of chocolates!  Also American Horror Story with The Fabulous Jessica Lange!!!! (and hot McDermott).  I have to admit, Pan Am has been pushed off my DVR schedule.  Not that the ladies were not lovely– the story is just not very compelling.  But you see, I had a Barbie Jet and stewardess uniform 38 years ago so it all feels very Deja Vu.

    • Adrienn Keszei

      I laughed out loud reading the “hot Hungarian” line…being a Hungarian myself, I truly appreciate the idea. ;)
      I’d love to see Colette-related storylines as well, and I’m awfully
      tired of Dean and his ‘drama’. I’m with you guys on the Charlie’s
      Angels/Love Boat/Happy Days/CIA idea…what a fabulous combination would
      that be!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PCARAOJSL553GBBPQSLRYD5REE L.

      Yes!  Blog a couple of new shows and don’t bother with PR anymore.

    • Aiste Griciute

      YAY for the part where you liked American Horror Story. I am still watching Pan Am only because I like to finish the things I started.

    • Anonymous

      OMG YASSSS please start blogging Revenge! That show is shockingly entertaining.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not a fan of Dylan McDermott, and the promos made it look like a Nip/Tuck with ghosts, but I find myself watching American Horror Story in spite of myself. I’d love to read you guys’ take on it.

    • glennethph

      Revenge is awesome.  Dynasty meets Gossip Girl with a dash of bitters.

    • Anonymous

      I’m surprised it took this long for you two to get your finely manicured hands on “American Horror Story”.  It seems to be a match made in heaven (or hell considering the show).  It’s been a wild ride so far and worth watching for Jessica Lange alone….she is killing in the role of Constance.  I like all the acting really and the sexy Dylan….yum.    Can’t wait for a write up.

    • Anonymous

      The last two sentences made me a very happy kitten! 

      I want to love this show, but it keeps falling flat.  When will they realize what a gem they have in Collette?!  Love the outfits though.

    • Anonymous

      OMG my friends and I call AHS “The Jessica Lange Show” too!  I am practically giddy with glee at the prospect of TLo blogging about AHS!  And Revenge too!

    • Anonymous

      OMG my friends and I call AHS “The Jessica Lange Show” too!  I am practically giddy with glee at the prospect of TLo blogging about AHS!  And Revenge too!

      • Anonymous

        Was trying to reply to another poster and it posted my reply twice.  Odd.

    • Anonymous

      ABC better act quick…ratings continue to fall week by week. Pan AM may be grounded soon. I agree about dumping the story arcs about the pilots. It is the stews we want to see. I do feel for poor Colette. Her character has been reduced to one scene of placing dinner rolls in a basket and a quick comment about who will work in first class.

      Maggie’s backstory could have been made so much more interesting. Instead it was more like a movie on the Lifetime channel. Jumping on a truck to get out odDodge? Pleease!

    • Adele Zhang

      Please please please blog about revenge. I can’t wait to hear your review on that bitchy hamptons culture. 

    • http://profiles.google.com/sleepneeded Greg Polansky

      Minor quibble Goran Visnjic is Croatian. Perfect for playing a Yugoslav diplomat. Definitely not a Hungarian actor or playing a Hungarian in the show. But still very, very hot. Interesting fact – he was in Madonna’s Power of Goodbye video, playing chess with her. 

    • Anonymous

      I had very low expectations for this show, so I am still enjoying it as a sort-of-fun throwaway with occasional glimpses of enviable decor and fashion. It is a tribute to the actresses who play Kate and Colette that they remain compelling characters, especially considering how silly it all could have come off.  

    • Mary McClelland

      PanAm doesn’t bother me because I had low expectations going in. It’s silly and fun and the characters are obviously parodies. I wonder if they were intentionally trying to go the opposite of Mad Men.

      I like Maggie’s character and it’s sort of funny that she is an intellectual grifter. Hey, hopefully she’ll find a rich husband or three and move to some truly fabulous locales and throw some killer parties! And avoid the whole getting shot in her swimming pool thing…