TV: Pan Am, Episode Five

Ah! The 1960s as they never were! Smoke-free and anachronistic too. Let’s see what they got right and wrong.

Wrong. This is so not 1963:

Wrong. 1963 did not have roll-down gates like that!

Probably right. That JuJuBes box looks authentic. I’ll trust Research on this one.

I really doubt it. I don’t think they recreated a 1963 subway map for this scene:

Totally wrong. This is the second time they’ve shown the subway and is this not a circa-1963 subway car. In fact, they made it even worse by adding door chimes! How could they put in door chimes?!

Doubtful. The subway ads don’t convince me. And they missed their chance for authenticity by not having a Miss Subways poster!

Probably right. A Polaroid Land camera. Although the back of the picture that came out of it looked wrong.

I don’t know. Did they make that up or did Research get it right and Clearance was able to put it in?

Doubtful. That token booth looks wrong but the crappy light bulbs are absolutely correct. God was lighting terrible in the subways in the 1960s!

Doubtful. The routes on that subway map are too linear for 1963. The map routes were all squiggly and weren’t made into straight lines until the 1970s (and were then abandoned for being misleading).

Correct. The curvy Pepsi bottles! In those days, you needed a bottle opener to remove the cap (which had damn sharp edges and could cut you). Are bottle openers even still made today?

We were treated to two smash-cut transitions in this episode!


I think the first time I encountered those — that I can remember — was watching The Avengers (that’s the one with Steed and Mrs. Peel, not the group from Marvel Comics), which came a few years later. I don’t think the British invented that technique, however. Any film historians out there who can say? Anyway, a very nice touch!

And one absolutely inexcusable dialogue anachronism, the pawnbroker using the phrase, “Not so much.” Really, how could a script editor have let that through?

Despite my nit-picking, I still like the show and will continue to watch.

Previously here:

TV: Pan Am, Episode Four
TV: Pan Am, Episode Three
TV: Pan Am, Episode Two
TV: Pan Am, Episode One


Filed under TV

10 responses to “TV: Pan Am, Episode Five

  1. TJHinNYC

    You are right about the “ding-dong” chimes denoting the opening and closing of the subway doors. Much too early, chronologically. However, the very distinctive train with the circular windows is time-appropriate. It’s model was called an R-11 and I remember riding them when I was a kid — only a few times. A Wikipedia entry says that only 10 of them were ever built. Also, you are right in thinking that the subway map is too recent for 1963.

    • mikecane

      The only subway trains I recall from that time that had seats perpendicular to the ways like that were the very old ones that ran on the G line from Brooklyn to Queens. And those didn’t have plastic seats. They had stuffed seats with a weave covering. I suppose the MTA gave them an era-appropriate subway car, but it’s just not one I’ve ever seen before. I would have expected a classic Redbird train instead:

    • Bill Hough

      The subway car door chimes were introduced in the mid-1970s with the R44 cars.

  2. P. F. Hawkins

    They still make bottle-openers. It’s just usually used for beer nowadays.

  3. You’re right about the subway car, that’s the only surviving R11 out of the 10 that were built. At first I thought it was an R15, the IRT car that had circular door windows. However, it’s definitely a BMT/IND car. Given that they are riding up to Harlem, they’d have to be on the IND, which is on the west side. If they were going up the east side, they’d be on the IRT which goes right under the Pan Am Building.

  4. Bill Hough

    Ok, after looking at the episode 3 screenshot above, I can now announce another boo-boo. The destination signs read “Broadway Local” and “South Ferry” which are period appropriate destination signs for what is not called the #1 train. I remember watching episode 3, seeing those signs and the round door windows and thinking this was filmed on the Transit Museum’s R15, which would be the appropriate car for this scene. However, as TJHinNYC points out above, this is definitely the museum’s R11 which is a couple of feet wider than an IRT car, thus easier to film in.

  5. TJHinNYC

    I’m going to sneak in a comment about Episode 6:

    At the beginning of the program and again at the end, there is an airborne shot of the Pan Am Building. Unlike other episodes, they get the background chronology half-right. In each of the Episode 6 shots, my building (the huge black structure — 101 Park Avenue at East 41st St.), completed in 1982, is omitted. However, a bit farther downtown at East 34th St., the 1976-constructed 3 Park Avenue is shown in all its glory.

    I guess they thought no one would notice. But they were wrong.

    p.s. I still like the show.

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