THE PLAYBOY CLUB
Format: Hour-long period drama
Premise: Set in 1963, the show tracks the complicated lives of the Bunnies who work at the first Playboy Club in Chicago and the patrons who frequent it.
Behind-the-Scenes: Shot largely on location in Chicago. The Hef himself narrates the pilot, though that device won't be used in future episodes. Instead, you'll just see a young Hefner from the back a la George Steinbrenner in Seinfeld. Brian Grazer is an executive producer.
The Good: Production quality is high. The lighting, costumes, set design, and period detail are all up to snuff. The cast is solid (even the douche-y Eddie Cibrian) and full of recognizable faces, with Laura Benanti the early stand-out as the Bunny den mother. Splashy musical numbers, soapy subplots, and energetic pacing help distinguish the show from Mad Men.
The Bad: It's no Mad Men (not even close). Makes the rookie mistake (or is it the second season of Friday Night Lights mistake?) of having a murder and subsequent cover-up be the driving dramatic storyline. And all that happens in the first five minutes! Slow down Playboy Club - don't resort to the melodrama so quickly, if at all. NBC deserves kudos for taking a chance on the show, but, let's be honest, there's only so much a Big 3 Network can show. This is The Playboy Club, right? The TV-MA rating goes a lot further on pay cable.
Will It Last?: Tough call. It looks like an expensive show to make, so it doesn't have a lot of wiggle room success-wise. Early respectable ratings will be key to its survival. My guess is that there can only be one Mad Men wannabe this season, so Playboy Club will have to fight it out with Pan Am.
Add a Season Pass?: It has potential, but the sooner it gets rid of the stupid murder storyline, the better. May not pull the trigger on the season pass yet, but certainly worth another look or two to see where it goes.