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The Playboy Club: Multiple-Personality Disorder Dressed in Bunny Ears and Heels

If you're a fan of sexy clavicles and completely nude backs, your arm was probably a bit sore after watching the premiere of NBC's The Playboy Club. The series is one of network TV's highest-profile new offerings this season, thanks to its "Playboy" brand tie-in and the promise of sexy times, but the big question going into Monday night was whether NBC could succeed in creating a Mad Men for the masses or whether it would just be an utter disaster. And now that question has been answered, because The Playboy Club is not very good. At all.

The show's biggest problem is that it's clearly the work of several studio brains exploiting a TV trend to make a show they think people will like, rather than the vision of one singular showrunner creating art. The result is an awkward drama with a lot of skin thrown in just because. "People like sex, people like murder mysteries, and period pieces are on fire right now! Bam! This is gonna put NCIS in the grave!" Not so fast.

AMC's Mad Men is the clearly The Playboy Club's idol. Last night's debut opened with dated, voiceover narration that went something like this: "The '60s were a crazy time, see? And at the Playboy Club, everyone had dreams and sex!" But whereas Mad Men won critical praise for nailing the ethos of revolution during a turbulent time in American history, The Playboy Club is simply playing dress up.

Another obvious influence: Every single mafia show or movie ever made, particularly Martin Scorsese's Casino and Goodfellas, as evidenced by the aforementioned (and horrid) voice-over. Then there's the mob murder at the heart of the show; this plot was set in motion when Bunny Maureen (the wooden yet wood-giving Amber Heard) put the heel of her stiletto through the jugular of a mafia king who got a little too happy with the hands. But is this a story about the colorful characters of the legendary Playboy Club, or is it a Chicago-style gangster drama? Here's a hint: If you ever you find yourself asking what a show is after watching it, it's bad television.

And we're not even done yet. Because NBC is so high on music at the moment (thanks a lot, The Voice) and has deemed Monday nights "Music Mondays," there are some random musical numbers thrown in for good measure. They're designed to evoke the atmosphere of the era—and they do—but it would have been smarter to spend more time establishing characters and less time letting them lip-synch to "That's What I Call Music: The 1960s Vol. 8."

The energetic Naturi Naughton is the lone bright spot in the cast as Brenda, an African-American Bunny with dreams of bearing all for Hefner's magazine. I have no problem with her. Spin her off and give her her own show, NBC. Elsewhere, Eddie Cibrian as hunky Nick Dalton isn't fit to hold Jon Hamm's cigarette butt, Numb3rs' David Krumholtz is reduced to a smarmy, one-dimensional manager, Laura Benanti is serviceable as bitchy aging Bunny Carol-Lynne, and everyone else is forgettable—but that's simply because the show tried to cram too much into the pilot.

Whatever you do, don't believe any "The Playboy Club is empowering to women" crap you might here from producers or anyone else involved in the show. Aside from Carol-Lynne, who actually exhibits a desire to be more than a fleshy diversion, all the other ladies seem to embrace the fact that they're being paid to be treated as objects.

The Playboy Club is striving (and failing) to combine Mad Men, Martin Scorsese, and something musical, but all it's done so far is hit the Showgirls bullseye. At least that flick gave us a peek at some of the broads' cans, see?

Notes:
... What kind of idiot tries to rape a girl, gets stopped by another man, knocks him down for an instant, then continues to try to rape the girl while the guy is still in the room? The dumbest mob boss ever, that's who.

... "You couldn't be a victim if you tried." Groan and a half.

... Have you ever seen people so calm after killing a mob boss?

... The Playboy Club is looking like a good pick for our Dead Pool, a friendly competition designed to test your skill at predicting which new fall shows will be canceled first. The opening-night numbers were pretty bad: A 1.6 rating among adults and just over 5 million viewers overall, which pales in comparison to its competitors, Hawaii Five-0 and Castle.


How would you categorize The Playboy Club? Is it soft porn for seven-year olds? Gangster drama? A period piece examining the sexual undertones of a country on the verge of revolution? Unsightly discharge from NBC's nether-regions?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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the networks have seemed to become so lazy with constant reality show offerings that to me are one dull talent show after another..the gong show with real talent if you stick around(pay the price)(help the same people get rich)at the end of 6 mo.,that they forgot how to do good tv...so,we go to cable,amc for the top notch,tnt,si fi and usa for fun and some very good programing,ie...burn notice,closer,monk,,alphas,stargate, pick one,battlestar galactica etc...after ncis and good wife(i rarely watch sit coms)i go back to cable...every fall i look toward the hope of a good season...last yr,the event,and others not worth the time to type, you know them,left us wondering if they thought the viewers were zombies. some of the better ones have been done b/4,hawaii 50,again you know the list. so i am not surprised that they tried again to slip another trashy simple minded hr of nonsense on us in the hopes that the skin will deflect the lack of talent!
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Dead Pool.
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i stopped watching after the guy tried it a second time with Don Draper guy still being in the room. i laughed so hard i had to go the powder room.
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neither playboy nor pan am will make it past the midseason, with playboy being cancelled after a month



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After 10 mins I was bored out of my mind but kept watching thinking it will get better... it didnt. I doubt itll get better...

Performances are awful, Eddie Cibrian does a poor impersonation of Don Draper...

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Eddie Cibrian was more great on "Invasion". The Playboy Club look like terrible.
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I don't think anyone really expected nudity on this show, although it does seem like the sort of show that would have been better suited to cable. And although this is suppose to be a show based in the 60s, it seemed at times more suited to the 40s. I also don't think it's fair to consider it a copy of Mad Men because although it's set in the same period it's dealing with a different genre.



I wouldn't call the show bad, but it was dull. The characters aren't clearly defined and the story really didn't go anywhere, although first episodes tend to be just introductions. But I can't say it's strong enough to have me turning in every week, and I find I've got enough to watch already. Still, there is some sort of charm and I'll probably watch the remaining episodes, if there are any. The only question now is whether the show will last three episodes or only two.
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I love Mad Men, and I am considering watching Pan Am this Sunday, but I must say, for a brief second, I was tempted to watch this show. This post has definitely put that nail in the coffin. (I really didn't want to watch it anyway, not even if there was nothing else on and all I had was On Demand.)
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Pretty good show! I will continue to watch although I'm sure it won't last. But most shows I watch get canned while others I hate go on year after year. I wouldn't watch trashy and boring shows like Hawaii Five-0, that's for sure!
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The show felt like a boring mix of Las Vegas, Mad Men and Showgirls, played on a small theater stage. With every actress running around in a bunny costume (not looking sexy) while holding Playboy magazines into the camera everywhere they go.



The only "suspense" that made me watch the whole pilot was because I was waiting for anything to happen that would tell me what this show was about. Didn't happen. I pass,
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What a horrible show! I didn't even need to watch it to know that its garbage. They should just call NBC the Nothing But Crap network because that is all they show. The only things that are worth it on that network are the Superbowl and the Olympics. Plus the News. I found "The Playboy Club" to be insulting and degrading. JUST SAY NO TO THIS SHOW!
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So much about this show infuriated me, and I am still in the process of watching it. Why was the DA so OK with all of this. And why is a guy who chose to marry a bunny gay? For shock value?You could choose plenty of shocking story lines without insulting women, gay men and men. I'm out.
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The guy who is gay isn't the only one. Alice, his wife, is a lesbian. They are married for convenience sake. It happened quite a bit back in the day.
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The only (barely) interesting character is the black bunny, I forgot her name, probably because she didn't get a significant amount of screen time...everything else felt like it was trying to hard.
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dead pool! dead pool! come oooonnnnnn CANCEL!
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I really liked it lol
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Yeahhhhhhh buddy! This piece of crap was on my Dead Pool list!
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I still say (from a viewer point of context) to give it a few more eps. I am sure that the next, not-made-in-spring, episodes will be more stream line.

I still can't get over some of the ignorant confusion between the Playboy Clubs and the Playboy Magazine. I'm not just meaning around tv.comland but other places. The clubs might have been risque back in the day, but the girls did not go about naked or sold themselves to any guy that had a few bucks. I think the scene where the young jerks were hitting on Janie(Jenna Dewan) must been aimed toward such ppl. They weren't prostitutes and were suppose to have a certain level of class. Now I won't pretend that nothing at all went on after hours of the club but what did you think they did during hours?

As for the whole "it should have been on HBO" mentality. The girls at the club would have been just as covered as they are here at NBC. Maybe less so in the scenes like at Nick's or at the end where the party was going on..but not much of a difference.
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Watched this today, horrible! Won't be giving it a second chance.
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Copping a feel, grabbing ass, attempted rape, a mob boss being killed, and a District Attorney (?) aiding and abetting in hiding the body, all within the first 10 minutes.



Yeah.



What's not to like?

(that's sarcasm, in case anyone missed it)



I give it 3 weeks.
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I am going to give the show another chance, but I doubt I will give more than a couple more episodes before I go to something else.
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Yay!!!!!! Looks like 1 of my 5 has been ticked. All of my cancellations were pretty obvious. The only one that is in doubt is A Gifted Man. I just can't see the premise giving enough content to keep an audience watching for a whole season, without going al Sixth Sense on us, in which case its def gone.



I'm looking good thus far.
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lol I picked The Playboy Club in the Dead Pool, and with only 5 million viewers I see an early cancellation.

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Haven't seen it, but this could easily be one of the 5.
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I watched this out of boredom. Bunny Maureen is very pretty but not a very good actress. And I was thinking that exact same thing when watching the rape/murder scene. Why would the mob boss keep trying to rape here once someone already came in?!?! They couldn't have just had Nick walk in AFTER she killed him. It's like the writers wanted Nick to be a romantic hero trying to save her..well ok that's what they wanted. So stupid.
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Interesting that you say that; in the early version of the pilot, she DID kill him all by herself, and Nick walked in to find her shocked over what she'd just done. The for-air version was better, if only because the accidental murder was *slightly* more believable; when she killed him on her own she kind of just stabbed him over the ear with the shoe.
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Good point jtrolio. I saw that scene last night and seen the pre-pilot scene where she killed him all by herself. They probably wanted Nick to seem a bit more involved and heroic than just some lump that happened to came in at the right time.
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They sure didn't waste any time killing off that preposterously moronic mob boss. I was seriously debating picking this show for my dead pool, and I went with Pan Am instead. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
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Yeah, the show is going to tank. Big time. Too much of a mishmash of things. And one thing which I think is missing is the target audience. Who is actually interested in a show like this? Are women going to be drawn to looking at hot women jump around (like bunnies, ha-ha) in skimpy outfits? And how many men are really going to spend time watching a show for an amount of skin which is minimal on today's standards? I'm a heterosexual, young man. So I'm the first to admit that I watched the show solely for the women. But weirdos like me isn't a large audience. A show like this could survive if it had a real story, but it doesn't. I think it tried too hard. It is trying to mix in heavy topics about women's rights, racial segregation and the rights of homosexuals, while putting a fun spin on it and mixing in a mob story line. That's just too much.



And it even had moments of unintentional humour. Was that voice over actually Hef's voice? At least it tried to be. And then they filmed this young man portraying Hugh from behind, not showing his face, like he was the mysterious Charlie form Charlie's Angels. So no, this show will not last long. The early ratings are terrible. It reportedly got 2 million viewers less than the opening episode of Chase last year. And Chase was cancelled very quickly, only after a few episodes. So The Playboy Club is going down the drain very fast. Poor NBC, they can't seem to get anything right.
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I will question the motives of this writer since Tim is the one that brought the Dead Pool to the masses.

But I will admit that he is right on one part. The show did try to cram too much into the pilot. Why? Because it's the pilot. When they made the majority of this episode it was back in the spring when they were pitching it to the NBC brass. They had to show many of the aspects that full season could bring. I am sure future eps will be a bit more focused.



As for Maureen, Miss Heard did a nice job with her. Hasn't Tim ever heard of shock? You don't get very poetic when you just killed someone. You are reacting and not acting out. Her "wooden" state makes sense to someone that just had a huge shock.
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Ummm, she was NOT in shock later that night when she was cavorting around in a Nick's shirt at his house. She was looking to get some.
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With that I would have to disagree in that you are implying an intention that wasn't planned. She was in his place, wearing his stuff, where he was clearly the dominant person and did have some initial attraction to him. Sure there was sexual tension but it wasn't too out there.

Now if she was seeming all hot and bothered at the harbor as they dumped the body in...well, then I would have to agree.
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