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'Pan Am' showrunner Steven Maeda talks about the struggling drama

'Pan Am's' fate on ABC is still unknown; the finale airs Sunday
"Pan Am" hasn't officially been grounded by ABC, but the skies don't seem so bright for the 1960s drama.

The series, which was created by Jack Orman, was a big bet for ABC and Sony. And it seemed to be one they might win with the series taking off to strong ratings when it launched in late September, nabbing 10.9 million viewers and a 3.1 rating/8 share in the coveted 18-49 demographic. But things would dip from there, with the second episode dropping more than 3 million viewers and so on.

Its season finale, which could also be its series finale, airs Sunday to make room for midseason replacement "GCB." Official word on "Pan Am's" future on the network is expected to come in May.

Show Tracker spoke with veteran writer-producer Steven Maeda ("Lost," "Lie to Me"), who was brought on as the series' showrunner midway through the season, about playing to the show's strengths and that darn spy element.

You were brought in to fix the show. What did you try to do when you came on board?

The iconography of the show and identity are so strong. What we tried to do is to embrace the soap side, emphasize the entanglements. Rally the core audience.

What were some of the notes you received from ABC and Sony?

They wanted to serialize and embrace the soap aspect of it. We jumped in with both feet.

Did it feel like you were hired to save a sinking ship?

It was tough the first couple weeks but a lot of it was moving things along. We have to come up with a new script every eight days. But it works and we're all happy with the show.

I feel creatively it's working right now. For me, the show is good with having fun with the era, the entanglements and it doesn't take itself too seriously.

What did you think of the spy element?

I thought it was great, but it was hard to play the glamour of the spy world without making it too dangerous. We're not "Alias."

Some of the gripes included that it was more about the globe-trotting aspect, not the characters.

We tried to focus on that and what the characters are about and will do so moving forward. Should we have the chance to be renewed we will focus and expand beyond the stewardess world. We have lots of stories to tell about the characters. We already started doing backstories, like with Maggie.

We get a lot of DVR viewers to the show. Good upscale core of viewers. But it's better if they watch it live in addition to DVR'ing it.

What's the morale on the show?

It's been tough. ABC, to their credit, hasn't yanked us off the air. We'd like to get a relaunch.

Final thoughts about the finale episode to the viewers?

Please watch the finale live and if you like it, write an email to ABC and let them know. We tie up some loose ends but we also add some new threads in there to explore later. But, should we not get picked up, it's a sendoff to the show viewers will be happy with.

If ABC doesn't renew it, could "Pan Am" go elsewhere?

It could find any number of homes if ABC doesn't pick it up. We're game for anything!

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 --Yvonne Villarreal

twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: The cast of "Pan Am." Credit: ABC

 
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