Unscheduled Departure

Posted on November 14, 2011

We found ourselves enjoying this episode somewhat against our will. Just when we thought the show had fully petered out, having never really come to an understanding of what kind of show it wanted to be, along comes this episode, probably the most tightly scripted, cohesive, self-assured episode in the show’s short run. So why did we have a problem with it? Because the show, for this episode at least, figured out what kind of show it wanted to be and … it’s not the kind of show we think we want to watch.

Rather than making the 4 stewardesses and their trials and tribulations the main focus of the show – and it was largely pitched to the public as exactly that when the show was first announced – it seems the creators are determined to make the cabin crew equally as important to the proceedings. And when you make that decision, then episodes like this one, where the entire cast is involved in one adventurous, tension-filled storyline, is what results.

We don’t have too much of an issue with tension-filled stories or adventurous ones. We don’t have an issue with bringing the entire cast in on a story, so that each member gets a moment to shine. We do, however, have an issue with the idea that this crew in particular is going to keep showing up at the historically important events of the day, whether it’s the Cuban revolution, Kennedy at the Berlin Wall, or Papa Doc’s Haiti.

And sure, we’ve said all along that the show should embrace its glossy, even soapy side, but that doesn’t mean all concessions to realism can go out the window. There’s no way there could have been any ending for this episode than having the entire flight crew grounded indefinitely, if not fired outright. They made an unscheduled landing in a politically dangerous country at an airfield with no lights on and no traffic controllers. Two crew members left the plane and wandered around this violent and dangerous country, then brought back a political refugee and untested medication for a passenger. They dump the passenger’s dead body on the runway, flee the rebels shooting at them, and take off with a refugee in the plane after dumping all the luggage of the other passengers. We’re all for adventuring and everything, but this was pretty silly in the end.

And the point has to be made: Did no one in the writer’s room bring up the questionable optics of such a lily-white show depicting the VERY few black people who wander onscreen as thuggish revolutionaries or wide-eyed refugees?

We’re happy that Collette got a couple character-based moments this episode – and they were good ones; well acted and believable – but we really wish it hadn’t come at the expense of a plausible storyline. As each new element unfolded, we were intrigued because we really did think “Holy shit, they’re going to do a story where the entire cast gets grounded this early in the season?” When it got to the end and none of the stewardesses were reprimanded (when they really should have been, especially Colette and Kate) and Dean seems to have gotten nothing more than a slap on the wrist, apparently because he’s such an ace pilot (and that little conceit has gotten well past old – how many amazing flying feats is he going to pull off in one season?), we threw our hands in the air.

But even though there was a focus on people we really don’t care about and a resolution that was howlingly bad in terms of realism, there was an energy to this episode that we haven’t seen since the pilot. Everyone was on their game and the script was tight and told an engaging story. We have a feeling this is what Pan Am’s going to be going forward; more of these “entire cast” plotlines, more historical events, and more adventurous trips. Personally, we would have made it the “Kate and Colette Show” ages ago, but the creators have a different plan, it seems.

Oh, and the kiss at the end. Bleh.

[Screencaps:  tomandlorenzo.com]

    • Anonymous

      Stopped watching Pan Am as of last week, so this is the first recap I’ve read without actually seeing the show! This way is WAY better! Thanks for doing the heavy lifting T Lo!

    • http://twitter.com/drewthomsen LB

      You two are very hard to please! Not to sound overly critical, but you asked for more Colette and when they show her more, you still have complaints. I happen to like this show in spite of its wacky and unbelievable plotlines because you’re supposed to suspend your disbelief. It’s just a show. This isn’t trying to be Mad Men – which in terms of acting, script, wardrobe, plot, everything, is far superior to Pan Am obviously. This was an enjoyable episode. I want them to bring back Kate’s Yugoslavian lover, but I’m not going to be mad about it if they don’t. I love this blog and live for your savvy opinions on fashion and television, but with this….come on…give it a rest.

      I wish Pan Am had better costumes so TLo could talk about those instead of ripping the show’s conceit apart every week. It’s not the best show out there, but Pan Am is entertaining – at least to me!

      • scottyf

        “I happen to like this show in spite of its wacky and unbelievable plotlines because you’re supposed to suspend your disbelief. It’s just a show.”

        Okay. Here’s the deal.

        I’ve spent my entire television viewing life suspending disbelief. Even when I was a kid, and didn’t know what that meant I was imagining that on the other side of Bedrock there were a whole bunch of cave people that looked like me. I created a corresponding black family that lived right across the street from the Bradys: 3 boys, 3 girls just to feel as if I belonged. So many of the white people in my life often told me to “lighten up, it’s just TV!” And I would try. Even though I often wondered if they could do the same if the situation was reversed. What if the majority of television shows were focused around blacks and other people of color? Would they be able to think of each program as just a show? Or like me, would they wonder why the one or two white people always seem to be more of a plot device than a integral character in the story?

        What makes me sad is the idea that we still haven’t seemed to have progressed past commercial television with a white point of view. What do I mean by that? All of the people of color in this episode were either bad or good–no nuance. Either the haughty, uncaring Latinos who were only concerned with their own interests, or the scary black male rebels and frightened wide-eyed refugee girl. Instead of having Colette plead her case, why couldn’t we hear from the girl? Don’t say it’s because she didn’t speak English. It doesn’t take much…just a few lines to create more depth and subtlety in a characters. Why have the only character of color missing on the very episode that revolves around the cockpit?

        I swear. I’ve tried being a “white guy with flavor crystals” and pretend that I don’t see television shows act as if I don’t exist for any reason other than to add decoration to white peoples lives. Some shows make it easier than others. This one does not.

        • Anonymous

          Suspending belief is one thing.  My favorite shows of all time are St Elsewhere, Lost, Soap and Arrested Development.  None of them are grounded in reality, they’re all filled with flights of fancy and preposterous circumstances, but they did them well and with a sense of humor.  That’s the difference between those shows and a show like Pan Am.   At its core (So far…I’m still holding out) this show is completely banal.  The fact that they can’t recognize that their two best characters are Collette, and Sanjeev the navigator, and run with them is an indication that they just have no clue.

          They had a real chance to do siginifcant things with the civil rights movement and they copped out to a one episode subplot involving the black Navy guy staying overnight and the white chick locking and unlocking her door, is depressing.   The fact that Mad Men also did a pretty poor job with the Civil Rights movement means that Pan Am had an opening to do something amazing with the story.  Tommy Schlamme (West Wing!) Is the showrunner DAMMIT!  

          I don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish with this show.  I don’t think they know  either.

          • Sobaika Mirza

            Tommy Schlamme was recently joined by one of the producers of Lost as a showrunner. I don’t know which episode he began with, but it was recent enough that I’m guessing it hasn’t aired yet. That can only bode well for the show.

          • Anonymous

            An Indian guy in a Pan Am clipper cockpit in 196x is just another addition to the unbelievable stakes in this show.

            • Anonymous

              Which is why the producers could give him more screen time and play out his story just as we saw others’ stories. Why is an Indian guy a navigator in the Pan Am cockpit? Since most navigators and pilots were in the armed forces previously, did he have experience? What war? His back story could be AMAZING.  I think, but am not sure (as I’m far less familiar with US than British history), but South Asians had an easier time integrating into various professions because they were depicted as “hard workers.”  But again, I’m thinking of a British post-colonial context and not the American. Not sure if there was any overlapping attitudes in that regard.

        • Anonymous

          Funny, I did the same thing when I was a kid.  Only, instead of imagining African-Americans, I was creating female characters who had a purpose beyond pouring coffee or getting kidnapped. 

          • scottyf

            Isn’t it amazing how empowering an active imagination can be? :-)

            • http://twitter.com/Alloyjane Alloy Jane

              Funny, how kids perceive things.  I never made up neighbors, but I always wanted to have conversations with the characters because I frequently thought they needed realistic advice.  Like the “no girls allowed” episode of the Brady Bunch that made the mom cry, I kept thinking, “it’s not ‘no girls allowed’ because they’re girls, it’s because YOUR girls are annoying.”  But they were all pretty annoying, by my standards.  Lord knows why I watched, probably because I liked Alice.

              I remember frequently being offended as a child by both Olive Oyl and Lucy Ricardo.  Olive Oyl was infuriating to me, I couldn’t believe she could be so flighty and inauthentic.  Same with some of the Disney cartoons.  I would always think that the females had terrible morals and the males were idiots.  And some of the things Lucy would do, especially her idolatry of anyone famous, would make me change the channel.  Although she had the saving grace of being funny.  

              Anyways, I can’t get into this show and for as much as people hated Playboy Club, it was at least fast-paced entertainment.  Much easier to suspend disbelief of historical context and whatnot when there’s a consistent story line.  Plus, it could have really developed beyond the cliches it was built upon.  Pan Am, on the other hand, is made to meander through the land of cliches til kingdom come.  

              Being that I’ve only seen up til the fourth episode, the fact that TLo are saying this ep is as energetic as the pilot depresses me, because I thought the pilot was fragmented and only slightly interesting.  But the Kate Sky Spy! ep in Monte Carlo was pretty darned fun.  I’ll have to see where it goes from there before casting my final judgment.

            • scottyf

              I recently screened The Princess Bride for some young people that I’m working with, who had never seen it (I felt SO OLD). I was astounded by the young women’s unsympathetic response to Buttercup.  They were incensed by her passive behavior. As a clueless male, I had never looked at her character that way. It was yet another reminder of how differently we see the world based on our experiences. I love the Soul Brother’s point about how the writers seem to be defining the female characters on Pan Am based on their relationships with men. Yet, if I’m not mistaken, the episode was directed by a woman. Interesting.

            • Anonymous

              I think it’s fairly common to find sexist women.  And women arguing with each other over what is sexism and what is feminism.  I’m sure you won’t see any parallels with any other marginalized groups of people there.

            • http://twitter.com/Alloyjane Alloy Jane

              Yes, misogyny is frequently upheld by other women and the reasons for that stem from the historical patriarchal society and the devaluing of the feminine.  But that’s a big discussion I’m not sure anyone else wants to dive into it.  

              Honestly, Buttercup never bothered me, but I feel that’s because she was not a modern character.  She was a period character in a time when women of fashion had no power outside of their beauty.  I was ten or so when I first saw the Princess Bride and by then I’d read enough British literature to know that women of the past couldn’t survive without husbands.  (That may be when I decided I didn’t want one, LOL.)  Lucy Ricardo, on the other hand, had a tv and could have had a career if she wanted to.  It always bothered me that she had to answer to Ricky for all the crap she wanted to buy.  I wanted her to get a job and buy all the hats she liked.

        • Anonymous

          you’re right. They also had a moment when they went to the dispensary and spoke to the doctor. He could have provided far more depth. There were also nurses as well.  As I said in another post, I was somewhat irritated by the way the show made it seem as if the country was in the middle of revolution. Yes, Duvalier’s Haiti in the early ’60s was scary and many of the leading intellectuals and professionals emigrated to West Africa as ordinary Haitians were being gunned down by the government’s agents, but we got none of that. I would have loved to have heard more of the doctor’s story telling us about what was going on.

          • scottyf

            The bottom line for me, is that after watching the promo (on T&Lo actually) I recognized that this was one of 99% of network programming for which I was not the core audience. They’re not writing for me. They are writing for a population that wants to nostalgically and romantically look at America in general, and this decade specifically. It’s aim is not to break new ground–not even with women’s issues, it seems–but (as some posters have re-iterated) to provide mindless fluff and entertainment for their predominately white consumer base. And I’m fine with that–I really am.

            What I find insidious however, in this post Obama era, is the idea that it still works. How shows like this cause some white women to unconsciously clutch their bags as I walk by. Unaware that I wouldn’t be CAUGHT DEAD snatching a D&G knockoff.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EDI2DLE7DE3YPW2ONIHBWOVHMA ecallaw

          In response to your question whether white people would do the
          same if the situation was reversed: As a white teenage girl (at the
          time), I never felt the need to imagine the white family across the
          street on the Cosby Show, but I’m sure it was because I didn’t have
          to–they were on every other show on my TV. I tried to imagine what it
          would be like to have every TV show depicting a black family and how
          that would affect me, and I really just can’t even fathom it. It’s so interesting to hear your perspective about this.

          In that vein, I want to ask you a question I have often wondered about.  Whenever I’m watching TV and I see an ad for the newest Tyler Perry movie or TV show,  I always am struck by how unfunny I think it is.  Not just unfunny, but unintelligent.  I know those are largely marketed to African-Americans, and it actually seems insulting to me.  I know everything can’t be on par with the genius of the Cosby Show, or some other funny comedies starring African Americans (Friday and Bad Boys come to mind), but it is shocking to me that African-Americans seem to go see those Madea movies in droves.  Is it because they are just grateful to see themselves represented, or do they actually find them funny?

          I can’t really picture you going to see a Madea movie, but I have no idea.  I’m fully aware of how sheltered I’ve been in my largely lily white world, so please enlighten me!

          • scottyf

            Well, I know you know I can’t speak for every black person, but I personally share your distaste for the Madea franchise. However, after some very personal soul searching, I came to the realization that I was basing my feelings on having been raised in a culture that eschewed anything that was considered “too black.” I had been brainwashed into believing that just because there was dialect or blatant melodrama in a piece written about my people, that I should automatically shun it as being detrimental to African Americans rising to the status of White America.

            It wasn’t until I let go of the need to be accepted by ubiquitous “White America” that I was able to see Mr. Perry’s genius for what it is. He has taken such theatrical forms as Commedia Dell’Arte, among others, and turned them into modern, profit making media–with a fully realized core audience. It’s no different than his white counterparts do. Hell, that’s what the producers of Pan Am have done. Shakespeare didn’t write for royalty. He wrote for the groundlings, who came for some entertainment after work. In order to do that, he used familiar characters and stories that the people could relate to. That’s all Tyler Perry is doing. And, I have to say, after being dragged kicking and screaming to one of his travelling shows by my relatives, Mr. Perry’s stage presence, comic timing and ability to exist in the moment is impeccable. And his ensemble is professional and second to none. I don’t have to like it, but I HAVE to respect it.

            My problem with what I consider to be racism in the mainstream media, is that we just can’t seem to get past seeing anything other than White America as multifaceted. It is hard to see black people as being like the Cosbys AND Madea. They don’t seem to be able to exist in the same Universe. One of my dreams is to create a theater in which I mount a production of Madea’s Family Reunion, followed by a production of Othello. I don’t necessarily want Madea’s audience to STOP patronizing Mr. Perry’s work, I just want them to have a broader perspective of the Arts from which to choose. I will admit that I believe once that happens, then the writing and acting of that franchise will have to be elevated.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EDI2DLE7DE3YPW2ONIHBWOVHMA ecallaw

              Really interesting to hear your take on Mr. Perry’s work. 

              “In the White American mainstream’s eyes we all have to be either Cosby OR Madea.”

              That sounds so simple when you point it out, but I swear reading this sentence was quite an “aha” moment for me.  I don’t automatically stereotype all black people into a particular category, but upon reflection, I definitely have confined them to only one category, whatever that might be under the particular circumstances. I’ll really have to consider that more going forward.

              Having said that, I still have lingering issues with Mr. Perry’s work, and I wonder if you were actually being too hard on yourself in your critique of Mr. Perry’s work. You said that you realized you were basing your distaste for the Madea franchise on it being “too black.” I (like you, it seems) really make an effort to be aware of the reasons why something doesn’t appeal to me or why I make certain choices, particularly when it somehow involves another race or culture. I’ve put some thought into why I’m turned off by the Madea franchise, or Moesha, or Meet the Parkers, or any other show or movie with the same brand of humor, and I really don’t believe it’s because it is “too black,” it’s simply because the humor is SO DUMBED DOWN.  The acting and jokes are over-exaggerated and silly.  I have an 8-year old son, so I often watch shows he likes to watch on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, such as Hannah Montana or The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.  The funny thing is, these shows (which are largely directed at pre-teens) use the exact same brand of humor and plot devices as the Madea franchise and the other shows I mentioned (minus any sex-related jokes). My 8-year old loves it, but I just don’t see how it can be appealing to adults, regardless of race.

              I’ve read interviews with Mr. Perry and articles about him, and he seems like a genuinely good human being who tries to make a difference int this world. I can see where you are coming from regarding his “stage presence, comic timing and ability to exist in the moment,” and I found your comments regarding his use of Commedia Dell’Arte (which I admittedly had to Google) and other theatrical forms insightful. Regardless, I still can’t help but find his work almost demeaning to African-Americans.  I don’t know, maybe subconsciously it is the result of not seeing black people as multifaceted.  I’m going to have to reflect on that more.

              Thank you.

            • Anonymous

              Tyler Perry is multifaceted, too.  He produced Precious and has other, less slapstick movies (See ‘Daddy’s Girls’–maybe not high art, but entertaining, adult and there are beautiful men in it.)

              I’ve heard him on NPR’s Fresh Air and he discussed that critique of his Madea movies.  I didn’t find the interview, but here’s a short piece on the discussion we’re having now:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/tellmemore/2011/04/22/135630682/tyler-perry-vs-spike-lee-a-debate-over-class-and-coonery

        • Anonymous

          Scottyf,

          I was about to write this post about, “Why this show?” vs. any
          other–this one being set in the 60s in a company that had an HR policy
          against hiring non-whites.  Then as I was writing I realized that the
          show didn’t do what it needed to do:  choose what kind of show it is. 
          Either throw history out the window and be totally diverse or ADDRESS
          HISTORY AND TALK ABOUT WHAT IT WAS LIKE.  Instead, it’s sucking at both and doing
          neither.  The really, really frustrating thing is that it’s probably NOT
          addressing history because someone in executive decided that they want
          to focus on advertising dollars and don’t trust the American people
          (rightly or wrongly–how would we know) to enjoy a show that is
          entertaining and still honest.

          http://thisorthat.com/blog/abc-decides-to-rewrite-history-with-smokeless-multiracial-pan-am

          David Simon could fix it.

      • Anonymous

        I think that we have suspended our disbelief to the point of losing our damn minds.  We have to suspend our disbelief to imagine that Kate is a spy, her sister flies with her and is on the cover of Life magazine, that the flight attendants get to be on all the same flights together, that they have long layovers in exotic locations, that they have modern sensibilities about their rights as women and the rights of minorities (however under represented it is on this show, the characters haven’t dropped any words/phrases or attitudes I would expect out of white middle and upper class people in the 60s–in a group that size). 

        I wanted to enjoy the Haitian episode.  I’ll even give them having the crew end up in a zillion historical events.  But if the show wants to throw history at us, then it cannot have stewardesses kissing people while in uniform and yelling at passengers and pilots doing random shit with the planes.  Seriously, it had to be Haiti?  Because Port Au Prince has a runway in better condition than in the Dominican Republic?  What a damn shame there aren’t any other islands nearby.  If I’m gonna give you Haiti, then this would be a good time for you to have a minor character who can take the blame and get fired to save the rest of the cast.

        And ain’t NO ONE can get around immigration on a moment’s notice.  Not even a little bit. 

    • Anonymous

      Just another typical day in the zany PG rated sixties! Bleh is right!

    • MilaXX

      I wasn’t a fan of this episode. I tune if for the Love Boat quality of this show. All I want is to see pretty people, namely the stewardess getting into minor scrapes each week. I don’t care about the pilots. This week’s episode while a pretty tight script doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, how awesome would it be if it really did follow a Love Boat format.  Have a special guest star cast each episode…even a little Charo. The most famous guest stars would get a cockpit visit instead of dinner at the Captain’s table.  That would toally rock.

        • http://twitter.com/susanpcollier Susan Collier

          Airport ’77 every week! When do we get the requisite “Bermuda Triangle” adventure? I guess that it’s a decade too early for that hype.

    • Sobaika Mirza

      I think I’m through with this show. It had some promise, but I’m not interested in sitting through another hour of pretty white heroes running amok while the foolish brown people act all foolish.

    • Judy_J

      If the writers are determined to have this flight crew become the Forrest Gump of the airlines, at least try to make it look good.  For all the reasons you described above, (don’t forget the hurricane!), this episode was completely and totally unrealistic.  And another thing, no matter what the predicament, the stewardesses’ white blouses are never, ever soiled. 

    • Anonymous

      Why did the land in Port Au Prince again? When Santo Domingo, DR is literally on the same island. And  Air time to San Juan PR would have been minutes? The with no air tower contact and no lights on the runway how in the hell was he going to help the heart attack passenger anyway? Just dump him and leave? Oh that’s what they did do. Except he was already dead. 

      How come the stewardessses got  to keep their great big vinyl carry on bags and the passengers had to throw out their luggage?

      • Sobaika Mirza

        This are practical questions, which have no place in Pan Am’s world.

        • Anonymous

          True. I that case they should have made all the passengers and crew take off their clothes to balance the weight of the plane, and valiantly fly the dead man home to Miami!

      • Anonymous

        The airport in Santo Domingo was damaged by the hurricane. Or mayber a prior hurricane. They couldn’t land there.

      • BuffaloBarbara

        They brought up Santo Domingo, due to it being a friendly port, but said it was hurricane damaged.  The thought with landing seemed to be that they’d get a doctor to come onto the plane and fix everything.  I liked the doctor they found saying basically, “Are you freakin’ nuts?  I have patients with gaping bullet wounds here, I don’t have time for an old vacationing guy with a bad ticker.”  When the airport is down and you have to go driving to find a doctor, it’s a pretty good bet that he won’t be able to come back with you.

        I’m wondering why they didn’t take that extra few minutes and go to San Juan, PR.

        Good question about the stew’s bags.  And I’m thinking there are going to be some big lawsuits happening for lost luggage.

    • Anonymous

      Why did the land in Port Au Prince again? When Santo Domingo, DR is literally on the same island. And  Air time to San Juan PR would have been minutes? The with no air tower contact and no lights on the runway how in the hell was he going to help the heart attack passenger anyway? Just dump him and leave? Oh that’s what they did do. Except he was already dead. 

      How come the stewardessses got  to keep their great big vinyl carry on bags and the passengers had to throw out their luggage?

    • http://www.facebook.com/yanneng Yan Neng

      This episode was clearly more character-driven than story-driven. I really didn’t believe most of it; but the characters really made it shine. I love Colette. I hated the kiss. I don’t like Dean; I find him weird and cocky. I missed Sanjeev. And Laura going back to take care of the rebels with food made me give her a thumbs up. Characters seem to be growing well (apart from Dean who gets thrown around from Bridgette to that secretary and now to Colette; I mean, he’s hot but ugh) and I do look forward to watching this week after week!

    • http://www.facebook.com/yanneng Yan Neng

      This episode was clearly more character-driven than story-driven. I really didn’t believe most of it; but the characters really made it shine. I love Colette. I hated the kiss. I don’t like Dean; I find him weird and cocky. I missed Sanjeev. And Laura going back to take care of the rebels with food made me give her a thumbs up. Characters seem to be growing well (apart from Dean who gets thrown around from Bridgette to that secretary and now to Colette; I mean, he’s hot but ugh) and I do look forward to watching this week after week!

    • Anonymous

      Neither Joe from last week nor the conveniently English-speaking doctor this week struck me as
      thuggish or wide-eyed.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VW5XHSH45FBZ2ZEZJARYHILIZQ Leah

        No, Joe just came off as a completely unrealistic black man from Mississippi in 1963 who found his ideal beauty in a white woman from New York. 

    • Anonymous

      Neither Joe from last week nor the conveniently English-speaking doctor this week struck me as
      thuggish or wide-eyed.

    • Anonymous

      My comment disappeared? Hmmm….anyway, I said (because you all wait with bated breath to hear my pronouncements on this blog!) that as a professional historian I am happy that I decided to watch Disney’s “Geek Charming” instead of this episode last night. I’m all for fantasy, but this is ridiculous.  And I also said that I’m a bit sad because I was really , really looking forward to this show in a way I haven’t looked forward to a new show for years. :(

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VW5XHSH45FBZ2ZEZJARYHILIZQ Leah

      I think this was my least favourite episode so far, for all the reasons you mentioned–especially the fact that this was probably also their best episode to date. It made me realize that if this really is the show at its best….maybe this isn’t the kind of show I want to watch. I know in TVland you’re expected to give some in terms of believability, but this pushed it too far in my books. And you’re right–as much as I love Colette and really think she’s the best part of the show (aside from the darling Richard :P ), I wish her storylines had not come in exchange for a terrible plot. 

      • Anonymous

        That’s the same realization I had, for the same reasons. I hadn’t watched the last few episodes but decided to give it one last shot last night. I won’t be doing that again.

    • Anonymous

      Just a thought—if you were blogging Homeland instead of Pan Am, last night’s episode was amazing. No ‘bleh’ there.

    • Anonymous

      True, definitely one of the most, if not THE most, engaging episode yet. And I actually did enjoy it for the most part despite how unbelievable everything was. It’s entertaining.

      And I agree that having the cockpit crew dominate so much of the story is not my favorite. However, did anyone else notice how they replaced Sanjiv with a white bread navigator in the only episode so far where the navigator plays any role? Granted, I’m sure people would be up in arms if the only brown character’s coming out involved such an annoying portrayal – so probably a good move. But that’s exactly what it is, a move, and speaks more to 1) the writer’s caution about portraying minorities and 2) Sanjiv’s non-existent character development so far, than to any sort of story choice. Had they developed his character earlier, they could have kept him in this role and the nav’s straight-laced regard for rules in this episode could stand as a human character flaw based on fear in the moment rather than the flat definition of an entire character. Call me cynical but it seems the writers found it was just easier and safer to bleach the character for this ep.

      But yes, seconding the costume comment, you’ve got what could be a beautifully done period piece, glam it up!

      • Anonymous

        I like your take on what the writers could have done with Sanjiv. I’m on his fan page and the way I read it it seems like he may have more involvement as some point?

    • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

      We have to be completely honest here: posting just to comment that you’re not watching the show we just spent time writing about or posting just to implore us not to “waste our time” writing about this show because you have some other show you want us to write about strikes us as pretty rude.

      If you don’t watch the show being commented upon, why not move on to the next post?

      • Anonymous

        I’m sorry! I was going to watch it and I watched the episodes from the beginning and was waiting for you to post to see if I should continue to watch the show.  I honestly didn’t mean to be rude, but was dialoging about my disappointment of the direction of the show. I love your posts! :(

        • Scott Hester-Johnson

          Plus, if you’re not watching Pan Am, that frees up time to watch A List: Dallas!

    • Anonymous

      First I thought…ok, they think they are landing in Haiti but maybe really they are landing on “THE ISLAND” and ABC is going to pull a gotcha and say this is a new show called “LOST 2.0: the Pan Am Initiative”.

      Then I thought…ok, they made it to Haiti…during a very violent uprising…maybe they are all going to be killed (because, you know, that’s probably more realistic than what did happen) and ABC will pull a gotcha and  say “THE END. CANCELLED.”

      Finally, I thought….ugh.

      • Anonymous

        When the lights shut back off just as they landed I thought “LOST” too.

    • Anonymous

      oh I like LB’s suggestion about costume critique. I remember that award-deserving analysis of Mad Men characters based on their dressing practices and its relationship to the character/narrative development.

      • http://twitter.com/drewthomsen LB

        Yes! TLo’s amazingly nuanced studies on the Mad Men costumes remains one of my favorite things about this blog. Some of it is just mind-blowingly clever and even Miss Cleo-level clairvoyant. Just sucks that Pan Am has uniforms so…the outfits dont really say much or change much.

        • Anonymous

          Though when they take time away from the plane they have great opportunities to show 1960s fashion. Remember that awesome 700-franc dress Kate wore to Monte Carlo? Also, their bathing suits in Burma, etc. Those were cool.

    • http://toodles.yelp.com AWStevens

      I don’t know what this says about me but right after the show ended and the credits rolled I wondered what TLo would say.  I really enjoyed the ep but realized it was a fantasy plot with no basis in reality.  *le sigh*  The only thing I can add to TLo’s spot-on review is please read LITTLE BEE by British author Chris Cleave if you want to know what really happens to refugees who try to leave their countries.

      http://www.chriscleave.com/little-bee/

    • Pinup Ghoul

      I can’t help but love this show. It has some sort of extremely glossy sway over me, and I’m not sure why. You two make excellent points about the show, though: it’s essentially a 60’s fairy tale. It’s a cartoon made with actors instead of paper. And I love it.

      We’re not from the same generation, so your inclusion of historical context makes your posts about it both entertaining and interesting to read. I’m glad you’re recapping the show! I never would’ve tuned in if it weren’t for TLo posting about it earlier this year. I don’t watch much TV, so I wouldn’t have seen promotional material for it otherwise.

    • Anonymous

      Caracas is only 5 hours from JFK (then Idlewild).  They were already a couple of hours into the flight by my reckoning.  Okay, they wanted to make an emergency landing, yet if they were going to land anywhere, why not Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands which are not only part of the US, but 
      have fully-functional radio contact, air-traffic controllers, functioning airstrips and modern hospitals not to mention locations in the same Caribbean vicinity as war-torn, politically unstable Haiti. I thought last night’s episode was absolutely absurd. How stupid are the writers of this show?  And the coup de grace was the stewardess calling her spy to get a green card and a foster family for someone just picked off the road?  And the passengers willingly upending their luggage? Are you kidding?

      • Nancy Abrams

        “…why not Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands which are not only part of the US, but…”

        Because then they wouldn’t have had much of a story. They would have landed without drama, Henry would have been taken to a hospital and everyone would have been on their way to Venezuela. Then what? Not much to fill an hour.

        • Anonymous

          Which kind of makes you wonder why the writers decided that a completely unrealistic portrayal of events on an airstip in Haiti was a *good* way to fill an hour.

          • Anonymous

            About 10 years ago I flew from Bonaire to Miami by way of Port-au-Prince. It was after Baby Doc was gone. As we landed, we went past lots of Haitian army jeeps with serious men manning serious machine guns. It was unnerving.

        • BuffaloBarbara

          Just looking at the map, I’m guessing that the hurricane must have passed to the east, shutting off the VI and PR.  But Jamaica wouldn’t be too far, and honestly, given the situation, they might have done better to just finish the trip to Caracas and ask for emergency landing clearance instead of waiting in line.

    • Anonymous

      I actually could not finish the episode.  When the mens with guns boarded the plane, I turned the show off.  I missed 2 episodes (I think) prior to this one, so this gets taken off my TiVo queue.

    • Anonymous

      I have to admit, I really enjoy this show, soapy-sudsy-schmaltzy-belief-suspension and all. I haven’t been able to get into the Walking Dead, which is surprising given my love of zombie movies. Maybe it’s that PanAm is like a little bit of cotton candy. Fluffy and easy to take without requiring much thought.

      • Anonymous

        I just wish that if they were going to go the fluffy and easy route that they would stick to that, Love Boat-style as someone mentioned.  If the writers or producers are more comfortable in a fun 60s bubble that’s fine–Down With Love was fun for example, and no one, myself included, critiqued it for not dealing well with raceor other social issues.  Same with the actual Day/Hudson movies they were tipping their hats to.

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

      “Because the show, for this episode at least, figured out what kind of
      show it wanted to be and … it’s not the kind of show we think we want to
      watch.”

      Exschmactly! It’s fine. But I’m bored and find myself wandering off during the episodes. Too predictable. Too cliched. Too bad though.

    • Anonymous

      The thugs were all black. And anyone with an accent was a selfish asshat. Great stereotyping writers! I felt the same way as you guys. It was one of the few episodes that I didn’t find myself yawning through. But laughing at the unrealistic silliness isn’t much of an improvement.
      The writers need to watch a few dozen episodes of Mad Men to see how this kind of show is done right.

    • r0ckmypants

      I don’t really think they’re making themselves present at many “events.” Papa Doc was president of Haiti for more than a decade, including the entirety of the 1960s. Same with Castro; he was PM for over 15 years and then president, and he was controversial the entire time. Should they be ignorning the fact that these controversial areas of the world existed at the time? It’s not like they’re placing them smack dab in the middle of Birmingham the day Martin Luther King Jr was arrested (except in the case of JFK in Berlin).

    • Anonymous

      I’m happy that Colette finally got screen time. Love her. She can steal a scene simply by walking though first class to the galley. Sassy lines from Maggy, too.  I am sorry TLo that the show does not meet your expectations but it seems they are trying to make the show go somewhere. This show needs to gell fast or the next destination is cancellation.  I know…bring in Karen Black as a stew and she has to fly the plane after or things go crazy after flying the jet into the Bermuda triangle.

    • Anonymous

      “this episode, probably the most tightly scripted, cohesive, self-assured episode in the show’s short run.” Yessss! If you followed the script you’d know why they landed in Haiti. This was adventure, history, sociology, fashion & passion ALL rolled into one vignette of American Empire! The consultants did their homework. Best episode so far. KUDOS

    • Anonymous

      Well, I finally watched the episode, and darnit, I liked it. Except, as someone already mentioned, the “Forrest Gumpiness” of the episode. It really was very tight-knit.  Some general thoughts: I can’t help it, I like Ted. Don’t know why, I just do; if they’re going to plop themselves into history, they need to be more accurate–the portrayal made it seems as if Haiti were in the midst of a revolution, and despite the cockpit commentary of “Papa Doc” no real intelligent information was provided.  I was happy to see more Colette, but I hope they don’t continue with the trope of war-torn orphan for her. Yes, it defined her childhood, but I’d hate to see her reduced to one layer. Finally, that navigator was an idiot, but I see why they brought him in–to serve as a naval foil to Ted. Hopefully he’s not recurring though.

      So, I guess I’ll keep watching.

      • grouchywif

        I finally watched it and more or less liked it. I still think the writing leaves something to be desired, but for what it is…light fluff…I enjoy it each week. They obviously aren’t going for realism or we wouldn’t even be able to see half the passengers on every flight for the cigarette smoke. But I am okay with that. I’m not so crazy about the “news event of the week” feel, but I was happy this time that they told the story in a linear fashion without all that hopping around. I’m not a fan of all the “24 hours ago” “12 hours later” stuff. Drives me crazy, especially since I do consider this sort of like beach reading and don’t want to have to think too hard or pay attention to every single detail while watching it.

        I like shows that make me think…after all, I actually watched and liked Rubicon. However, there are times when I want a fruity umbrella drink as opposed to a serious red wine and Pan Am is like the pina colada of TV for me.

        It seems pretty obvious that they brought in the navigator to provide the moment at the end where Ted has Dean’s back in a way he didn’t earlier in the season. Since the regular navigator is not adversarial to the rest of the crew, a vacation for him was required to get an old buddy for Ted to smack down in defense of his captain.

    • Anonymous

      “how many amazing flying feats is he going to pull off in one season?), we threw our hands in the air”

      Oh yeah, when he responded to Mr. Ortiz that he began flying crop dusters, I just groaned and thought, Oh my gosh, they’re making him out to be the Luke Skywalker of Pan Am.

      • Scott Hester-Johnson

        Fun Fact: Delta Airlines was started by crop dusters in the Mississippi delta, thus the name. Most pilots of that era did indeed get their start in rural applications, then the military.

        That being said, see my comment, above, about how this show is getting (sadly) ridiculous.

        • Anonymous

          Wow, really? When was it founded? That could actually be a neat tie in to the show…if they were concerned with those types of things.

          BTW, I know that Luke was the best pilot of the rebellion!

      • Scott Hester-Johnson

        Fun Fact: Delta Airlines was started by crop dusters in the Mississippi delta, thus the name. Most pilots of that era did indeed get their start in rural applications, then the military.

        That being said, see my comment, above, about how this show is getting (sadly) ridiculous.

    • Anonymous

      One of my mom’s friends actually worked for Pan Am back in the day. She thinks the show is over the top funny. She loves how the stews all have time to sit down and chat with passengers. It was discipline action is you were caught sitting down on the job.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QO7DOEXLXQ4OQWTDOK2PJXPN3Q Roxie

      Pan Am is on the verge of being canceled. They have not ordered a full season of the show, and ABC has not made a place for it in it’s mid-season schedule. I will especially miss the adventures of Kate Cameron Sky Spy if it is canceled. I also liked seeing more of Collette in this episode. I am not as critical of the show as other people here are and it has become an enjoyable guilty pleasure of mine. I am sorry that it might not get a chance to live up to its potential.

      Since Pan Am’s days may be numbered, have you guys thought about doing commentary on Once Upon A Time? There is some delicious bitchery on that show, especially between Emma and the Evil Queen/Mayor. And they have made formerly passive female fairy tale characters in to strong and feisty women. I was surprised and delighted by how bad ass they made Snow White. I would love to read your comments on that show, and I would also love your take on Ringer, which is my other favorite guilty pleasure besides Pan Am right now.

    • Scott Hester-Johnson

      I finally got around to watching this ep and I gotta say, I am willing to suspend disbelief, but this required a Herculean effort.

      Among other inconsistencies, what happened to the boarding stairs when they took off? Jets can’t go backwards unassisted by a tug, so they would have had to plow right through them (unless the helpful rebels pulled them away).

      I am willing to put up with a lot to indulge my love of the classic jet age, but this show is veering dangerously into the ridiculous.

    • Scott Hester-Johnson

      I finally got around to watching this ep and I gotta say, I am willing to suspend disbelief, but this required a Herculean effort.

      Among other inconsistencies, what happened to the boarding stairs when they took off? Jets can’t go backwards unassisted by a tug, so they would have had to plow right through them (unless the helpful rebels pulled them away).

      I am willing to put up with a lot to indulge my love of the classic jet age, but this show is veering dangerously into the ridiculous.