|A VERY racy image for 1963 - a blonde, a brunette and a redhead all in the same photo.|
True Retro Lovers, you're in for a let down. Now, those of you who read Tiki Lounge Talk regularly know that I don’t usually review a movie or TV show. I generally just present stuff I really dig, hoping you’ll dig it too. I know I sound like I’m slamming this show...in fact, I sort of enjoyed it, and will continue watching it (unless it gets really bad). I’m just disappointed that NBC went all through the trouble of doing a show set in the 1960s and completely missed the point of doing a show set in the 1960s. It’s the ambiance, the over-all look, feel and texture of Mad Men’s style that roped us in to Mad Men. The writing and unorthodox story telling keeps us coming back. Rehashing a good old “oops I killed the gangster, uh oh” plot just doesn’t cut it for me.
|Now SHE is a good reason to watch this show. What a looker!|
CSI: BUNNY CLUB
|The male lead seems to be a Don Draper knockoff. Swing, and a miss!|
Music for Modern MindlessThe show opens with a Bunny on stage, singing “Chicago” in a way that sounds much more like a Pussycat Dolls rendition than anything a 1963-ish songbird would ever tweet. It rolls into a version of Shaboom Shaboom that sounds even more up-to-date and hip-hoppy, destroying any 1960s feel that may have been conjured in the opening. When the song ends, the background music sounds exactly like they ripped it from Law and Order.
Hey, Look At Me, I’m A Character!
They don’t leave anything to chance with this show. Like most network shows, every character hits you over the head with their specifics before the second commercial break can air. As a friend of mine said, the lawyer seems to be doing his best Jon Hamm impression...to the point that listening to him speak while not watching, I’d swear Don Draper was making a guest appearance on the show. However, where Don Draper is smooth, mature and always in subtle control, this character seems to bounce between the slick Chicago lawyer and a somewhat cocky frat boy. As for the blonde bunny, she's doing the best she can with what she's got...it's not easy to establish a character when you start out being freaked out by killing a man with your shoe just because he felt you up.
Again, don’t get me wrong, the acting is pretty good. Just not Mad Men good. You hip? Good.
Quick, Somebody Give Me A Plot Idea...Murder A Gangster? I’m In.
|Nick Dalton's Bachelor Pad was one of the highlights of the show, and didn't get nearly enough exposure.|
What I Would Do Differently, As A Professional Theatrical ProducerEverybody has an opinion. I, being a former director, writer and producer (of theatrical murder mysteries) of course have my own opinions on the direction this show should have taken. Like you, I’d want to see much more of the actual inner workings of the Playboy Club as it was in the day. How did they pick the girls? Was there an audition process? Was it legal to fire them if they gained weight? What about the stars that came to the club? Or the infamous parties at the Playboy Mansion? They talked about a party, but where the hell was it? They only showed a few seconds of people dancing. Wasn't there an indoor pool in the Playboy Mansion where bunnies swam naked? Were the bunnies really off-limits to guests, or were they banging every high-roller that came through the door? How much did a membership cost? How was it viewed by the general public? I would completely ditch the whole murder/gangster idea and focus on the blonde’s character. Make her as interesting as Don Draper, with a mysterious past (in a different way than his, of course). Maybe even have her be an undercover reporter, doing an exposé on the women of the club, and how they operated. And I would definitely give the manager of the Chicago Playboy Club a better car to drive than a four-year old Buick. He would be driving a Cadillac, or an Imperial, if anything. Probably a coupe or a convertible, definitely black with leather seats. Not a Buick sedan. His wife could have a Colony Park station wagon to drag the brats around in. One with those ugly plaid seat covers you used to buy at Sears, where she’d get all the kids’ toys because she would be too cheap to go to FAO Schwartz. Woah...How’s that for going off on a tangent? Ok, so I'd make the lawyer guy a heroin addict or something, and the "old" bunny would turn out to be a tranny. Ok, maybe not. It's getting late and I've had a few drinks. Anyway, if you’re looking for a cool, sleek, stylized show like Mad Men, The Playboy Club will be very disappointing. If you’re looking for a prime-time show with pretty girls and plot that you can follow even if you miss 20 minutes in the middle of the show while you make frozen daiquiris and those little hotdogs in puff pastries for your guests, the show is fine. Hopefully Pan Am will be a little more our style.
-Christopher Pinto, author of
Murder Behind The Closet Door
Murder on Tiki Island
Tiki Lounge Talk
A Flash of Noir
(This article also appears at Tiki Lounge Talk)