Friday, September 23, 2011

Candidate for Worst New Show: THE PLAYBOY CLUB

    I’m giving you fair warning: This one is a turkey. It premieres Monday night. You gotta see it to believe it.


    From the first second you know you’re in trouble when Hef himself narrates it. I will acknowledge that a hundred years ago Hugh Hefner was indeed a major force in popular culture. And his willingness to challenge society’s repressed attitudes on sexuality and ignorant views on civil rights were courageous and to be applauded. And more importantly, thanks to him I saw pictures of naked girls when I was a kid!

    But Hef has become a sad comical caricature of himself. Now in his 80s and looking like a whittled fungo bat you see him surrounded by busty 20 year-old bimbos, wearing his robe and sailor’s cap still prancing around like a swinging ladies man. He was recently engaged to a trollop who could easily be his great granddaughter. Aging with dignity I guess is not in the vaunted Playboy Philosophy.

    His narration doesn’t add gravitas, it sets the tone for goofiness. Plus, since a real person is discussing a real place that actually existed, his narration would suggest that the events you are about to see are true… or at least not preposterous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The bunny costumes are authentic right down to the cuff-links. Other than that, everything about this show is absolutely absurd.

    Newbie bunny, Maureen (played by Amber Heard who looks 30) accidentally kills a major mob boss (essentially Sam Giancana) in the first five minutes. I mean, that's the kind of thing that happened usually on Thursday nights in the club, right? Who needs to hire a hit man from Detroit when you've got a waitress from Iowa.

    But wait! It gets worse!

    Laura Benanti, a Tony winner, is reduced to playing the Bunny Mother/bitch delivering bad Joan Crawford dialogue in a tail. And we’re supposed to believe that David Krumholtz is a no-nonsense tough guy. Kenneth from 30 ROCK could kick his sorry ass.

    But wait! It gets worse!

    If the real Hef isn’t enough, there’s also the “character” of Hugh Hefner actually in the show. You just see him from the back in his smoking jacket and pipe (ala George Steinbrenner on SEINFELD) but he’s a presence. What the pilot intimates is that one of the themes of this series will be the Chicago mob trying to get their greasy mitts on the club only to be thwarted at every turn by the much stronger, more intimidating Hugh Hefner.

    But wait! It gets much worse!
    This show is such a blatant rip-off of MAD MEN that it’s shameful. The lead actor, played by Eddie Cibrian, is DOING Don Draper. He’s a flat-out Jon Hamm impersonator. The moves, the expression, the look. He’s not an actor, he’s a mimic. Seriously, if I was the president of NBC and I screened this pilot I would turn to my lieutenants and say, “I can’t put this on the air. We’ll be the laughing stock of the industry.”

    But wait! (You know what’s coming.)
    Naturi Naughton plays one of the bunnies. She was in MAD MEN. And what part did she play? A Playboy bunny. This is beyond a rip-off. This is a rip-off and a crossover. One of the other bunnies looks like Joan of MAD MEN and every blond is a Betty Draper clone. Like I said, utterly inexcusably shameful.

    I love this era. Love the music, the look, the style, pretty much everything about it except Topo Gigio. And it kills me when a show comes along and does it badly. Oh well. At least I still have PAN AM to look forward to. Although from what I understand, that series asks you to believe that most of the international stewardesses on PAN AM also worked for the CIA. Ohhhh-kay. I guarantee you if that works, by episode ten of THE PLAYBOY CLUB Hugh Hefner will be a secret agent.

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Candidate for Worst New Show: THE PLAYBOY CLUB

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