The Playboy Club Review: Bunnies at Work

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After weeks of hype, the series premiere of The Playboy Club aired on NBC tonight.

Tonally, Hugh Hefner's narration was slightly off-putting... even though I loved the The Girls Next Door and got a kick every time the Bunnies headed for the mansion. But Hef is so darn old and this show was meant to feel fresh and young. Or so I thought.

The Playboy Club Premeire Pic

We learned straight away that Nick Dalton was an important member of The Playboy Club. He not only had bragging rights to the first Bunny, but planted his eyes on the new cigarette girl, Maureen. Is it me, or does cigarette Bunny seem like one of the worst jobs in the establishment?

A pity that Nick, running for State's Attorney, was impatient and needed his smokes so badly. This lead him to the scuffle between Maureen and some bald dude who turned out to be mob leader Bruno Bianchi. Together, they took Nick down, setting the stage for our story to unfold.

Looking at the set decor in Nick's apartment made me want to shoot down to Ikea as fast as I could. Outside paying megabucks for antiques, it's the closest I'd ever get to living that life. Generally, the set felt a little too modern and too polished for my expectations.

The show needs to be a bit more fastidious in its portrayal of the time period. I wasn't swept into the 60s as I should have been, and that could prove problematic to the overall acceptance of the show. Face it, the early 60s were somewhat gaudy, and to leave that behind is to lose some of the glamour that The Playboy Club provided to the average man.

It was an interesting contradiction to see what men considered sexy then compared to what they do now. The underwear the ladies wore in the dressing room was large, covered everything, and was adorned with garnishments such as garters. In comparison, today's panties are barely more than an eye patch and a piece of floss. Wow, how times have changed!

When Carol-Lynne quit her duties as lead Bunny to take over as a house mother of sorts, she immediately made the uniforms a bit more skimpy. It must be easier to see other women wearing less than it is to do it yourself, huh?

I'm not sure where the show will go from here. Will it head in the direction of more political intrigue or more Bunny life? I'm hoping for the latter, but fear I may be disappointed.

We've seen mob pieces done to death, but a real in-depth look into the girls who started the Playboy empire, who and why there were there, piques my interest far more than Nick Dalton's race for State's Attorney.

I'm sure to catch some flack for this, but the gay agenda meeting was out of place in the first episode. We need time get to know the Club and characters before we start revealing all their secrets. It felt like it was there to pointedly not leave homosexuals out of the Playboy phenomena. Unfortunately, at the time, there were some cultural developments that simply left some folks out.

Once the show has found its footing, it can take on the world. But let's explore the Bunnies more first; I don't want another Swingtown on my hands. The series must prove that it has more to offer than sex and then it can dig into the politics of the generation. All in good time.

Some casting thoughts:

  • David Krumholtz as the Manager of the Club gets to play smarmy, something he does well, but was free from for years in his role on Numbers.
  • Laura Benanti, who plays Carol-Lynne, is completely distracting due to her striking resemblance to Lisa Edelestein.
  • Shockingly, I wasn't thinking of Leann Rimes the entire time Eddie Cibrian was on screen. He hasn't succumbed to total tabloid fodder!
  • I'm excited to see Wes Ramsey land a regular role on prime time. He's been a soap staple and deserves a big break. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him.
What did you think of The Playboy Club? Did it hold your attention? Sound off now!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (148 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is a staff writer and managing editor for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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It felt like I was watching "Mad Men - Lite." I think it has a lot of potential -- but there needs to be more depth. As a premiere, I realize they're trying to give a lot in a short amount of time, but I feel like it was rushed in the wrong spots and too hasty in others. The Gay Agenda has it's place but could have been saved for at least the third episode; Bunny Maureen seems very cliche; Hef's narration is cute -- but not interesting. Eddie as Nick is trying desperately to be like Jon Hamm/Don Draper -- but his character isn't nearly compelling enough. I will watch again to see if it gets better, but my hopes aren't very high.

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i think it was a great show. I hope to see more of it in the future

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A complete joke. NOTHING like the real Playboy club. I know because I dated John Dante who ran ALL the clubs. They couldn't even get the "Playboy " mansion set right! and Bunnies weren't allowed to just drop everything and go "dance". they would have been fired! What an embarassement to Hef...a really wonderful man. And story wise"?? A guy is killed and police don't investigate? Please.And the gay plot? What's with that?? not to mention your lead actress Amber Heard is a lesbian. Talk about suspending belief in that sexual attraction with cibrian who is a terrible actor... those who loved the clubs, this was an embarassement. DOA

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REALLY? This is probably the lamest, most unnecessary show on the planet. Boring, silly, meaningless. Just a waste of time. Won't watch it again (sorry, Eddie, because you are divine...)

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I DVR'ed this last night because my 10:00 is reserved for Castle. Because I was interested in the idea, I watched it as soon as Castle ended. I have to agree that the gay meeting was a little out of place and felt contrived. I think it may have fit better later on in the season once we knew Nick a little bit better. It kind of felt like the producers stuck a whole bunch of plotlines in a hat and picked out a bunch of them for the series. The whole mob thing was also a little much. Is it really plausible that the head of a mob family can be the pillar that Nick described, especially when the pillar had a totally different name? Wouldn't people wonder why both of these guys look exactly the same? Is one a recluse? It was really strange. I'm pretty sure that people knew what Capone or Lucky Luciano looked like, so they should know what fictional Bruno Bianchi looks like. Also, isn't it a little strange that Nick was involved with "the family"?

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I wanted to love it before I saw it but it was slow moving and a bit boring.
I hope it will keep improving.

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I was very disappointed with the show. It lacked excitment and intrigue and I was bored throughout the whole show. I love Jenna Dewan-Tatum and some of the other girls but overall it just wasn't what I had expected.

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Loved the show. I think NBC has winner.

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I enjoyed the show. Having worked as a bunny in Cincinnati in the 60's I couldn't help but draw comparisons. There were very strict rules in the club, and to my knowledge none of these types of things went on. Nonetheless, I will be watching this show every week!

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I really enjoyed it and look forward to the season. It was fun sexy & a pinch of mystery! I can see mad men comparisons but only b/c the time period or sets & costumes. Please let The Playboy Club make it thru the season.

The Playboy Club Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

I picked out the wallpaper for that bathroom, Billy, long before you were here to tell me where to tinkle.

Carol-Lynne

It was a place where anything could happen to anybody. Or, any Bunny.

Hugh
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