TV review: Enough to make you airsick

By Michele Hewitson

10 comments
The TV One drama Pan Am may look smart but it's silly and rather dull. Photo / Supplied
The TV One drama Pan Am may look smart but it's silly and rather dull. Photo / Supplied

I was going to write that I've endured worse flights than the one that was the first episode of Pan Am (TV One, Saturdays, 9.35pm) but, on reflection, no, I haven't. The first episode of Pan Am would make a long-haul flight to London, in economy, in a cabin packed with screaming, projectile vomiting babies with whooping cough and really, really fat parents and a drunk guy with false teeth and wandering hands in the aisle seat next to you seem pretty enjoyable, actually.

Oh, it's not really that bad, I was just trying to wake myself up. It is the sort of flight you don't need sleeping pills for.

But it's so silly and rather dull. It all looks very smart - in the way those trolley dollies looked very smart back in 1963 with their white gloves and perky little hats and girdles. It is one of those designed shows, like Mad Men, in which so much attention has been paid to the period detail and paying the good-looking actors that you suspect they didn't leave anything in the budget for the script. Or the plot.

Actually, how can there be a plot? There are pilots and trolley dollies and though travel might have been more glamorous in those olden golden days - there were flowers in first class and a trolley dolly would roll up with an ash tray for you to stub out your fag in - it's still going up in the sky in a metal tube and taking hours to get to another place. It's hardly The Right Stuff, now is it?

So tension must be inserted - in the way that an air hostess (I'm bored with writing trolley dolly) must be inserted into her girdle. Whoah! Girdles! Girdles are sexy, surely.

There is a ferocious air hostess minder, a sort of hostesses' madam, who snaps said girdles and growls at runs in stockings and is obviously a sadist. But there's not enough of that sort of thing. The minder is a madam of a sort, you'd be forgiven for thinking. Everyone knows those trolley dollies were hot stuff and up for it, and here they are: hot stuff and up for it. They are, despite, or possibly because of, those little white gloves and prim little uniforms, sex in a pencil skirt, in the air.

But this is not enough for a plot. The best they manage to do with that is have a hostess have an affair with a frequent flyer who inevitably ends up on board her plane with wife and kid in tow. The mistress didn't know he was married. Really? The wife knew he was having it off with the hostess. The kid did a drawing of a family on a plane. The wife left it behind for the mistress: She might put it on her fridge as a reminder not to have sex with other women's husbands.

I can hardly bring myself to repeat the really nonsensical attempt to squeeze some tension into the girdle that is the idea. It is that hostess Kate is recruited as a spy, by the rude German guy in seat 3D. He isn't German at all. He said to Kate: You must use discretion at all times. They don't call this the Cold War for nothing." She was up to the challenge. She wasn't just a pretty face. "We have great hopes for you," said the rude German who wasn't a German. I have great hopes for the series: That I won't have to watch another episode of it.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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