Younger siblings know how hard it is to live up to a gifted firstborn.
Any series that sets itself in the early 1960s is going to have to slink around the reflection of "Mad Men." This season there are two: "The Playboy Club" and, beginning on Sunday, "Pan Am," an ABC drama about stewardesses back when jet travel was glamorous, and so was serving drinks at 30,000 feet.
As a premise "Pan Am" sounds foolhardy, a knockoff that can’t possibly live up to the original, like a network trying to copy "The Sopranos" with a series about a ring of car thieves in Indianapolis.
The difference is that "Pan Am" romanticizes the past, whereas "Mad Men," on AMC, takes pleasure in slyly mocking antiquated mores. Secretaries at Don Draper’s ad agency marvel at an electric typewriter, a mom at a pastoral family picnic tosses the trash onto pristine park grounds, a child who plays with a dry-cleaning bag is scolded, not for the risk, but for mussing the clothes inside. "Mad Men" evokes nostalgia for a careless, less restrictive way of life, floating on a permissive wash of sex, booze and cigarettes, but it never stops sending up the naïveté and backward biases of those times. Read More...