After last week's holdover from November, Pan Am aired its season -- and likely series -- finale, "1964," on Sunday night. As the title implies, this final chapter in the saga of the crew of the Clipper Majestic took place at the end of a very eventful 1963, which culminated in the assassination of John F. Kennedy that ended the last in-continuity episode, "New Frontiers."
Well, whattaya ya know? With only three installments left, Pan Am manages to pull itself out of its death spiral and comes up with an episode that's not half-bad. It's probably too little too late at this point, but if "New Frontiers" ends up being the last episode to air (ABC has two more in its hanger, but no airdates have been announced), at least it ends the series on a decent note.
Amidst the Sunday night hubbub generated by the Golden Globes and the Giants/Packers game and Episode 2 of Downton Abbey's second season, it's understandable if you forgot that ABC had scheduled another new episode of Pan Am.
Welcome back to the Pan Am death watch. After a month off, the ABC series aired the first of its (likely) final five episodes ever, "Secrets and Lies." It was a strangely muted return, even though some pretty big things happened. For starters, Dean's ex-fiancée (and Kate's predecessor as an undercover CIA courier) Bridget returned, putting the kibosh on his fledgling romance with Colette. And speaking of Kate, the Agency finally agreed to let her go free of their clutches and return to civilian life, but at the last minute she seemed to change her mind (spy games are far more fun -- if also far more dangerous -- than simply serving drinks, after all). Elsewhere, Maggie continued her so-boring-nobody-cares romance with the pro-nukes congressman and Laura... took some pictures. That's right, it's always a thrill-a-minute ride aboard this show. No wonder it's about to get its wings clipped.
Welcome back to what may be the beginning of the end for Pan Am. In case you missed the news, ABC has reduced the show's episode order to 14, which means that after last night's ninth installment, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," (Dean and Colette provided the kisses courtesy of their literal roll in the hay, while Kate took care of the bangs, firing a gun at the jeweler/spy at the very end of the episode) the crew of the Clipper Majestic have only five flights left, which will be burned off in January before the catty cast of the soapy serial GCB (a.k.a. Good Christian Belles a.k.a. Good Christian Bitches) takes over their time slot in March. Although the network has yet to officially ground the series for good, its future hinges on how well or poorly the new crop of mid-season shows perform. And with Mad Men already set to come back in March, we'll soon to be able to remember what a genuinely great '60s-era drama -- as opposed to a decent, but forgettable nostalgia piece like Pan Am -- looks like. Still, based on last night's episode, there are still a few things that this series can teach us about that period. Things like...
After flying all over the globe the past few weeks, Pan Am offered up its version of a bottle episode last night, keeping the action largely limited to the flying tin can that is the Clipper Majestic. "Unscheduled Departure" opened with the crew bound for Caracas, Venezuela when they're forced to make an unexpected pit stop in Port-au-Prince, Haiti when a passenger (Harris "Quentin Travers" Yulin) experiences a heart attack. Once on the ground after a hairy landing, they discover that the airport is abandoned and the only people around are a pair of gun-wielding men. While the menfolk dither, Collette takes charge, because 1.) She's a native French speaker; 2.) She's the only one with a backbone; 3.) She's just that awesome.
With its heavy-handed moralizing and weepy melodrama, last night's Pan Am outing felt more like an afterschool special designed to teach us that Racism Is Bad than a jaunty primetime series about high-flying stewardesses. But we were so happy to see Gaius "Smash" Charles back on our TV screens that we forgave "Truth or Dare" for a lot of its flaws. The former Dillon Panther running back played Joe, a Navy serviceman whose unit gets a free trip home aboard the Clipper Majestic after having spent the past six months patrolling the oceans in those floating sardine cans known as submarines. After landing in New York, Joe scored an invite to a swinging party at Maggie and Laura's hip Village pad and crashed on the couch when Maggie went home with her Village Voice shutterbug beau.
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. After last week's lighter-than-air confection, Pan Am crashed back down to earth this week with an episode that offered too much angst and not enough charm. Clearly written at the behest of Christina Ricci's agents, who must have felt that their movie star client wasn't being given enough to do to justify her move to television, "The Genuine Article" put Maggie front and center and basically revealed her to be a lying, manipulative... well, in keeping with the more innocent spirit of the era, we'll just say "rhymes-with-witch." The B and C-storylines both involved romance, specifically the boring affair flowering between pilot Dean and kept woman Ginny and Kate's passion-free dalliance with Yugoslavian diplomat Niko Lonza (Goran Visnjic), whom the CIA is eager to flip to their side. And in our weekly "Where's Collette?" watch, the Clipper Majestic's forgotten stewardess' big scene involved her giving basic lessons in French to a drunken Ginny and then accompanying her to the powder room. Sigh. Maybe she should start thinking about a transfer to a different flight crew where her skills will be more appreciated. As for the things the show taught us about the '60s this week...
You know, we've been on the fence about Pan Am since it premiered a month ago, but last night's fifth episode, "One Coin in a Fountain," finally made us want to root for the series to stick around awhile. It was certainly the show's strongest outing to date, offering up a pleasurable mix of humor and intrigue and giving every member of the show's large cast something to do. Well, almost everyone -- for the second week in a row, Colette got the shaft, reduced to shooting longing/knowing glances at Dean while he shamelessly pursued Ginny Sadler, hot-to-trot mistress of top Pan Am exec Everett Henson (played by Scott Cohen, who will forever be Max Medina, Chilton Academy's finest English teacher, to us). And, as always, the program continued to teach us all sorts of things we didn't know about the '60s, such as...
It's about time the hard-working men and women serving aboard Pan Am's Clipper Majestic got a little R&R. "Eastern Exposure" allowed the gang to kick back and enjoy the local scenery in such exotic locations as Rangoon, Burma and Jakarta, Indonesia. Of course, it wasn't all lounging by the pool and drinking fancy cocktails. Kate had another top-secret mission -- one that she almost failed to complete -- that involved delivering a camera to another operative. Meanwhile, she and Laura continued their sisterly squabbles and Ted experienced flashbacks to the incident that got him drummed out of the Navy and spiked his chances at joining the space program. Then Dean had to land the plane in the midst of a wicked storm that had settled over Hong Kong and got into a scuffle with his jealous co-pilot. In the midst of all that personal drama, the episode still found the time to teach us a few more things we didn't know about the '60s, things like...
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