Remind Me Again - Why Isn't The Playboy Club on HBO?

Remind Me Again - Why Isn't The Playboy Club on HBO?


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.


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  • I thought it was pretty awful. I didn't even make it through the whole episode. Snore.

  • With regard to the headline--
    --If you consider what the Playboy Club was then compared to what TV is 50 years later, this is essentially PG material. Ashton Kutcher's character was banging two barflies and had a pixilated crotch, and both John Cryer's character and Geoff Peterson were talking about masturbation, all on CBS.

    --Since The Playboy Channel is already on cable (and apparently not doing so well), is there anything in this kind of plot that would drive subscribers to HBO? Not unless it was Shakespearean quality. Then it would be on PBS.

  • I agree that this is PG material. I think it would be a much better show if it was on a pay cable channel, it would free them up not only for the nudity but for more complex storylines that don't involve a murder cover-up right out of the gate.

    Still, you've gotta love a show that shoots in Chicago. Let's hope it keeps going just for that reason, regardless of whether you tune in for future episodes!

  • In reply to Hammer:

    As I implied above, apparently Christie Hefner or whoever runs Playboy at the moment didn't see fit to put it on their channel.

    Also, while Playboy Magazine involved nudity, apparently the Playboy Club did not. It wasn't any of the "fine" establishments in Harvey or South Elgin. The most risque thing they had was gambling at foreign locations, but obviously not in Chicago.

    Just think what would happen if 40 years from now, someone set a show at the Glittering Hammond Casino. The most exciting thing would be an Indiana state trooper checking the tires on buses from Illinois.

  • In reply to jack:

    Ooh, they can call it "Indiana Toll Road." I'm in. During Sweeps Week, the troopers pull over a very pregnant lady for doing 60 in a 55. /Not still bitter three years ex post facto.

  • In reply to Magistra:

    That would be a different show, as one exits the Skyway before it become the Toll Road to get to the Casino.

    I was referring to what happens in the parking lot. The Illinois buses come in, but they don't leave. Maybe there is a show about them going into a black hole, and encountering some demon of the underworld.

    I take it that your proposal is based on an actual life event, sort of like Seinfeld.

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