He’s handsome. Sophisticated. Powerful. Good looking. A real hunk who will take you places you’ve never been before. He is the completely irresistible Clipper Majestic, the flagship Boeing 707 of ABC’s new drama, Pan Am.
The BBC have been showing double episodes of Pan Am every Saturday night, and I have found myself counting down the days until the next drama unfolds. We have six major characters (four stewardesses and two pilots) and a whole host of sub-narratives struggling to take the main stage and claim the series as either a Cold War spy drama, a discussion on proto-feminism, Mad Men at 30 thousand feet, an exploration of the post-War era, or a picture of 60s America/London/Paris. But in the sea of lesser narratives and recurring minor characters, we never get distracted from who the real star of this show is: the Clipper Majestic himself.
While each installment focuses on the development and exposition of a character, it was episode 8, Unscheduled Departure, that really set itself apart in a daring act of scriptwriting that cast the Boeing 707 as the main character to be explored for an hour. After the team made an emergency stop at Haiti, we were faced with the real possibility that the Clipper Majestic could be grounded on a runway that was too short. Unable to take off, what were the options? As the pilots got the engineer’s manual out and the stewardesses endeavored to lighten the load, the cast struggled to jettison the weight required. As the tension mounted, it became clear that the Boeing was the clear star of the episode. In fact, he is definitely the show-stopper of the entire series.
The Clipper Majestic is the hulk of the late-War bomber converted into the epitome of luxury peacetime air travel with new, svelte contours and stylishly swept back wings for improved performance at high-speed. Pods suspended from the wings house the new jet engines, carefully positioned away from the main fuselage to increase passenger comfort. He really is the dawn of the new jet age, and he’ll show you the world.
Catch up with Pan Am on BBC iPlayer.
P.S. For the latest showings of Pan Am, please check my more recent post.