by Jeremy Grossman
“Pan Am” is in trouble. Not only have the ratings been falling each week, but ABC has yet to order a full-season, despite having done so for newcomers “Revenge” and “Suburgatory.” Five episodes in, the show has largely failed to prove that it’s worthy of surviving. “Pan Am” should have found a voice by now, or at least some sort of consistency, but as “One Coin in a Fountain” displays, any direction it may take is ultimately up in the air (no pun intended).
Since last week’s episode, the show has been placing more of an emphasis on pilots Ted and Dean, which has proven to be an awful mistake. Nobody is interested in the plights of Ted and Dean. Placing an emphasis on these two characters at this early stage makes no sense when it’s the stewardesses who we are supposed to captivate us. Because of this misguided focus, “Pan Am’s” most interesting character is yet again shoved to the background, as Colette fiddles with the food cart while Ted awkwardly flirts with Laura, and Dean breaks from “Fountain’s” narrative to fool around with a random passenger. Somebody from the cast must have noticed what a great performance Karine Vanasse (Colette) was consistently giving and whined to the producers to give her less screen time.
This complaint is not to say that the other actors are doing a bad job, but everything their characters do, everything they say, and everywhere they travel to lacks the promise and “oomph” that shone through in the series’ first few episodes. Kate’s spy plot, for example, was a particularly dreadful storyline to watch. Her adventures have yet to be incorporated in a way that doesn’t make them feel like a completely different show sharing airtime with “Pan Am,” and the attempts to do so this week seemed futile. Kate and Maggie fight over a passenger — Kate needs him for this week’s spy mission, while Maggie just wants him because he’s cute. The tension between the two ladies is pathetic, as Kate can’t reveal that she’s actually a spy, so there is little chance for the plot to progress anywhere substantive. Will Kate ever be able to tell anyone that she’s a spy? If she keeps this secret forever, then she will never truly fit in with the show. If she tells the other stewardesses that she’s a spy, then this series will have to strangely turn into some sort of action/adventure drama.
So as “Pan Am” continues to dwindle in the ratings, experiment with a variety of dull plotlines, and abandon any sort of imagination it may have once had, Colette and the audience will be sitting in the dark, waiting for an opportunity to shine that may or may not ever come.
Jeremy Grossman is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.