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Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Playboy Club

I twisted my arm and saw the first two episodes of The Playboy Club on NBC - reviewing is a tough job but somebody has to do it.  The Playboy Club would make the second new series - along with Pan Am - inspired by the success of Mad Men and its 1960s setting.

But make no mistake about it.  Although The Playboy Club takes in place in early 1960s Chicago, it has little of the meticulous period detail that dresses up Mad Men and Pan Am.   What The Playboy Club does have is very pretty women - including, like Pan Am, a blond lead (Maureen, played by Amber Heard) who is knock-out gorgeous - and a lead man (Nick Dalton, played by Eddie Cibrian) who looks a lot like Booth from Bones and sounds like Don Draper.

The story mines the sleazy side of 1960s Chicago - with a corrupt Mayor Daley, and a big mob presence in the town as well as the club.  The plot has Maureen accidentally killing a mob boss, as she was defending herself from his attempt to rape her in a back room of the club, and Nick coming to the rescue to dispose of the body.  Turns out he used to do this very work for the mob.  But he now he his eye on the State Attorney job (what is it with State Attorneys in Illinois on television these days? - the job also figures in The Good Wife).   He also has his eye on Maureen, even though he has a relationship with Bunny-Mother Carol-Lynne, whom he genuinely cares for.

The real Hugh Hefner did the voice-over intro for the pilot, and his character has a continuing role in the story as a faceless character shot from behind or in ways that otherwise obscure his face.   David Krumholtz plays Billy, who runs the club, but they have poor David looking like Bosley from the original Charlie's Angels (what's the point? - that the only kind of a guy who can work around highly attractive women is someone who looks like a frog?).

Playboy - the magazine and the clubs - has been controversial, to say the least, in reality.   Hefner has always claimed the magazine broke through the repression of sexuality in the 1950s (undoubtedly true) and empowered women (that's the point that's controversial).   The series gets points for continuing this theme, but would be worth watching even if it didn't.

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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

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