Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#25 Pan Am

I first heard about this show in a magazine (Ladies’ Home Journal I think).

There was a column of “If you like X, then you’ll like Y” talking about upcoming TV shows. One of them was “If you like Mad Men, then you’ll like Pan Am.”

Pan Am is a period drama that takes place in the early 1960s, which is exactly when Mad Men happens.

I had only vaguely heard about the airline Pan Am; as many know, it’s now defunct. Wikipedia tells me the company ran from 1927 until 1991.

I personally don’t know much about its history, though amazon seems to have a DVD that chronicles it, if you’re interested:

Pan Am: The Golden Age of Aviation

The show follows one Pan Am crew, including its Stewardesses and Pilots. There’s 6 main characters – 4 stewardesses and 2 pilots.

Why do I like this show?

1) They travel the world on their flights. They’re based out of New York, but often get a couple of days in their destination country before having to fly back home. The characters get to go to Italy, Germany, Indonesia, Russia, and a host of other places. For a lover of travel, languages, and cultures, this show really caters to those interests.

2) The characters are all very vibrant. They’re beautiful people and have vibrant personalities. Of course there’s love entanglements between them, and you learn more about each of their background histories as the show progresses. I guess that’s one of the things a drama does best – lots of character development, and lots of conflict and intrigue to keep you watching.

3) A neat twist is that one of the stewardesses is actually a spy for the Cold War. As a stewardess she’s able to go all over the world with an obvious alibi (she’s just doing her job) so she can do other things on the side and not be suspected. This adds quite a bit of suspense to the show and it’s really interesting to follow her and the assignments she gets.

Pan Am recently finished their first season in February.

Rumor has it, the show has been canceled. That’s quite sad, though I suppose it is more of a niche-interest show. Not everyone can relate to the characters, who travel the world and have all sorts of adventures. It takes someone with wanderlust to really delve into the show. I personally think it’s amazing – I’ve loved watching it, and it’s stirred up some welcome wanderlust in me recently. I’ve also grown attached to the characters in the process, so it will be sad if they don’t continue.

But sometimes amazing shows just aren’t compelling enough for the mainstream. This was certainly the case with Firefly.

Firefly – The Complete Series

Looks like even a blue ray version has been released, for those of you with the amazing TVs and Blue Ray system:

Firefly: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]

It doesn’t look like there’s a DVD of the first season of Pan Am yet which is really sad. Separate episodes seem to be released, but not a full volume yet.

There is however a renewed interest in the Pan Am image, and amazon sells Handbags. I really want one….but they’re a bit pricey. Still, they’re quite classy. Maybe someday!

I’d personally probably go for one of the white ones. All the classiness of the Pan Am image without being too stark and blue like the others are. But then again white gets dirty easily. Hmm….

Also despite an appropriate DVD, there’s apparently a Sound Track CD.

Music From & Inspired By Pan Am

For those of you with a kindle, there’s a kindle-only (sorry book connoisseurs) non-fiction book written by a Pan Am stewardess chronicling her time employed at Pan Am and the adventures she had with them between 1969 and 1991. This is the first time I found out about this book actually, but it’s going on my “to-read” list for sure!

Pan Am Unbuckled: A Very Plane Diary

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#24 Mad Men

Chances are you’ve heard of this show.

It’s been around for a while. Currently they’re in the middle of their 5th season.

I started watching this show back in the US, and thought it was amazing. I had stopped somewhere in the 3rd season but didn’t remember where, so when I got back into it in Japan I watched beginning Season 3, episode 1.

One of the shows strengths is that it has so much going on. All of the characters are so complex and interesting, and there’s a lot of main characters that they rotate through. Of course, Don Draper tends to get central focus.

I convinced my boyfriend to watch Mad Men too and he obviously began at Season 1, episode 1. I often feel like I can never get too much Mad Men, so I’ve been re-watching some episodes with him. There are so many little details and little happenings I had forgotten which made everything feel fresh and new even on the second time through. And of course it’s interesting to have knowledge of what will come and see how that relates to how characters were before. This is definitely a show with rewatchability.

My one recommendation is to watch the show with someone, whether sitting together and watching it, or watching it separately (though keeping up with each other), because it can be nice to have someone to talk about it with. I often want to talk to my boyfriend about certain happenings or character developments, but alas he’s still on season 3 and I’m on season 5, and anyone who has kept up with show knows that a LOT has changed between then.

The show is a drama, so it often tugs at your heartstrings and plays with your emotions. It’s definitely more of a deep, thinking show than entertainment, though for me being in Japan, watching anything in American English is relaxing and entertaining.

I highly recommend this drama to anyone who likes dramas or period pieces (it takes place in the early 1960s). The clothes, houses, buildings, and characters’ attitudes are definitely dated, and the show tends to tie in real historical events that are happening at the time too, which makes for a very compelling world.

I heard that it has been renewed for a 6th season, and that there will likely be a 7th season as well, which would be the last.

Check it out!

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