Pan Am: ABC’s Retro-Series; Cancel or Keep It?

Pan Am cancel or keepHopping on the Mad Men bandwagon, ABC recently began airing Pan Am on Sunday nights. The network’s been searching for some new hot dramas to replace Desperate Housewives and their aging medical series. Have they found the solution in a show named after a defunct airline or will this one just crash and be cancelled?

Pan Am follows the pilots and flight attendants that work for the world-famous airline in 1963. Dean (Mike Vogel) is a young pilot who’s just been promoted to captain. His co-pilot, Ted (Michael Mosely), is hiding a secret. Stewardess Maggie (Christina Ricci) isn’t afraid to push the limits, Colette (Karine Vanesse) flirts too much, and Kate (Kelli Garner) has taken on a dangerous side-job after helping her sister, Lara (Margot Robbie), become a runaway bride. While traveling the world, the flight crew have interesting brushes with history.

The series debuted on September 25th to a 3.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic and 11.06 million viewers. Those aren’t bad numbers but they’re hardly impressive either. Pan Am was second in the timeslot, behind NBC’s football coverage. Looking at the breakdown for the show’s ratings in quarter hour increments, about 10% of the demo audience tuned out before the episode was finished. That’s not terrible but certainly not positive either.

The second episode dropped 16% in the demo to a 2.6 rating with 7.76 million viewers. That’s a pretty normal second week drop-off but Pan Am really didn’t have many viewers to spare. Week three is where things really got bad.

Should Pan Am be cancelled?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

The third episode saw the demo drop by an astounding 27%. Did the people who tuned in for the second episode decide that they’d seen enough or, was the third week just a fluke?

Apparently it was the latter because the ratings dropped by another 5%, to a 1.8 in the demo with 5.84 million. Last night’s numbers held steady according the fast affiliate numbers. That’s positive but a 1.8 demo rating is certainly not.

Pan Am is currently the lowest-rated new show on ABC with an average of a 2.2 rating in the demo and 7.36 million. Those numbers will keep dropping unless future episodes perform significantly better. Of the 14 scripted shows currently on the network, Pan Am ranks 12th, beating only Body of Proof and already-cancelled Charlie’s Angels.

While Pan Am’s fate seems all but sealed, ABC doesn’t seem ready to throw in the towel just yet.

They’re reportedly bringing in veteran writer and producer Steven Maeda as showrunner. He previously worked on Miami Medical for CBS and Lie to Me for FOX. ABC execs, who apparently still really like Pan Am, want to hear Maeda’s story ideas before deciding on whether they want to order additional episodes for a full season.

It’s very likely too late to pull this show out of its downward spiral but perhaps ABC will get lucky and beat the odds. Typically, once viewers reject a show, it’s nearly impossible to get them to take another look.

What do you think? Should ABC keep Pan Am flying for a full season or should they just pull the plug and cancel it now?

Canceled and renewed TV show

288 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. G says

    I’d hate to lose this show. It’s fun with some serious side to it. I’m not a car nut so I don’t care if there is a 1970 car on some street. Who cares! I’m a little concerned about bringing in the writer and producer of Miami Medical as I thought that show was predious bad, right out of the gate. And I have to agree with another writer….I’m getting so over all the crime shows.

  2. says


    its a light feel good hour of my week, the cast is amazing and i know i can leave my trouble s at the door. Please just revamp the writing and keep sending me to wonderful European locations!!!

    YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!

  3. Stuk n Muk says

    R U kidding? This is the best TV entertainment in years! The time slot does not work for my work schedule so watch “On Demand” the next night and maybe adds to the downward viewing ratings. Suggest there might be a few more of us in the same situation. PLEASE DO NOT CANCEL!!!!!

  4. says

    Love Pam AM…Please do not cancel. It is clean enough. Love the characters.
    Love the walk. Love the pitots. Beats CSI everything (cop shows really tied of.

  5. John in NC says

    What are ABC’s options? Cancel the show and put on another fake reality show?

    It is all about viwers and sponsorship, PAN AM has a great opportunity to get higher demographic viewers and therefore better sponsors.
    There are enough singing and bad acting reality shows out there.

    Get these writers some help and this show will take flight.

  6. Kitty Ware says

    I love the new show PAN AM. The sets, wardrobe, hair styles, and the acting are all the best. Can’t wait till Sunday night to watch the new show. I even know two girls who use to fly for Pan Am and they love the show. PLEASE KEEP IT GOING ON THE AIR.
    Thank you for the enjoyment,
    Sincerely, Kitty

  7. stephen statler says

    Pan Am is fantastic. I think the movie Catch Me If You Can (2002) starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Hanks at the inspired this. And I also suspect Mad Men was partially inspired by the movie Far From Heaven (2003) with Julianne Moore and Denniss Hasbert and Quaid. i like them all. Keep Pan Am on. The last episode (Dec 4th) was great.

  8. Alice Sasscer says

    LOVE Pan Am – please don’t cancel it. It reminds me of an more optimistic time. I think it would help if the show had a better time slot such as a weeknight around 9:00 P.M. or on Friday or Saturday, around 9 or 10 P.M. Again, LOVE this show

  9. stephen statler says

    A very big part of a show like this is the period uniforms, clothes, furnishings, interiors, cars etc. It has already been mentioned that the Captain’s hair is not 1963 and I agree, it’s more like 1973 1983 or 2003. Then there’s the matter of cars. We seem to see a 1966-69 Lincoln outside apartments in the fall of 1963. And I have seen a 1966-1967 Pontiac Tempest/Lemans as well parked outside the townhouses.

  10. bri says

    l o v e this comment about time slot is puzzling though it makes an excellent point

    with my dish use ‘time shift’ and see it twice

    but if abc drops my baby

    annother network

    watching hbo last night



    so many elements here

    am a plane nut flt syms shall be awarded

    bridget and dean is already akin to robiin and mariam

    flight crew is so interesting

    cabin crew add bridget pierce i know two blondes but both are captivating and

    how to add her answer is the 707 interconinental – air force version was at that period

    air force one –

    here s the thing pan am becomes history and many shall be deeply saddened


    what to do?

    – purrr –

  11. EllieRetro says

    The reason ratings are dropping is due to the kruddy time slot. Most of us have early mornings on Mondays and showing a show like that on Sunday at 10 pm is like ringing a death bell before the show even begins. Move it to a better day or time slot like Fridays or Saturdays. I expect ratings would improve if you move the show to a better day or time. It was as if you all expected the show to die so you placed it in the worst possible time slot. Not the best idea, but then when have business executives ever made decisions that made sense? I know for a fact that I would be able to watch it when it airs if it showed on a weekend night versus on Sunday night. I tend to have to watch it on my OnDemand the next evening around 8 or 9 in order to make sure I can keep my normal hours.

  12. Aidan Miller says

    Pan Am is a great new show. I really hope ABC keeps it. Please give it some time. It will catch on. There are so many potential themes to write to.

    Aidan Miller
    Metro Detroit

  13. Chantel says

    ABC get smart and keep this show on the air. It really is a breath of
    fresh air amongst all the foul. Reality Shows on TV now are not real. …and totally staged. This show is interesting and entertaining…I hear alot of men are watching it
    too…..not that some would admit it! Bring in pilots and flight attendants to consult
    and work with your writers for your scripts….Please don’t cancel a good show.

Leave a Comment

Your comment may need approval from a moderator before it appears. We review comments to weed out spam, duplicate postings and personal attacks. We welcome constructive discussion.