Fall Pilots Preview: The Playboy Club
(With the fall’s crop of new shows hitting later this month, now seems like a good a time to start previewing all of the new network offerings. As I’m not a professional critic, I don’t get access to all of the nice, shiny screeners that the pros do, so I’m basing my opinions somewhat on their thoughts as well as on teaser clips that the networks have released. These are very rough thoughts that could very well change once I’ve seen a full pilot. With that in mind, onto the preview.)
The Playboy Club
Who: Stars Amber Heard (Drive Angry), Eddie Cibrian (CSI: Miami), Naturi Naughton (Notorious), and David Krumholtz (Numb3rs).
When: Mondays at 10:00 PM (Premieres September 19)
What: NBC’s description via The Futon Critic: “From Academy Award-winning executive producer Brian Grazer, The Playboy Club is a provocative new drama about a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary entrepreneur created an empire and an icon changed American culture. It’s the early ’60s, and the legendary Playboy Club in Chicago is the door to all of your fantasies — and the key is the most sought-after status symbol of its kind. Inside the seductive world of the bunny, the epitome of beauty and service, the clientele rubs shoulders with the decade’s biggest mobsters, politicos and entertainers. Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian, CSI: Miami) is one of the city’s top attorneys and the ultimate playboy, rubbing elbows with everyone in the city’s power structure. With mysterious ties to the mob, Nick comes to the aid of Maureen (Amber Heard, Zombieland), the stunning and innocent new bunny who accidentally kills the leader of the Bianchi crime family. Dating Nick is Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti, Take the Lead), a bombshell and established star at the club who knows her days as a bunny are numbered and finds herself continually at odds with Billy (David Krumholtz, Numb3rs), the club’s general manager. Adding to the charm of the Playboy club is Janie (Jenna Dewan Tatum, American Virgin), the carefree life of the party who is dating Max (Wes Ramsey, CSI: Miami), an overly protective bartender. Also starring are Naturi Naughton (Fame) and Leah Renee (True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet). In addition to Grazer (A Beautiful Mind, American Gangster), the executive producers on The Playboy Club include Chad Hodge (Tru Calling), Francie Calfo (Scoundrels), Jason Burns (The House Bunny) and Dick Rosenzweig (Kendra). Hodge also wrote the pilot, which was directed by Alan Taylor (Mad Men, The Sopranos). The series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television.”
Jeremy Likes TV’s Thoughts: Mad Men. OK, now that the elephant in the room has been acknowledged, no one expects The Playboy Club to be anything close to AMC’s critically-praised drama as far as quality is concerned, but we’re lying to ourselves if we don’t recognize the fact that it’s likely what NBC WANTS The Playboy Club to be. They’ve set the show in the same time period, have a very poor man’s Jon Hamm (Cibiran) as their lead, cast Naughton as a Bunny (a role she actually played on Mad Men), and hired Alan Taylor (who’s worked on four episodes of Mad Men) to helm the pilot. Because of its shameless copying of a much better series, I was set up to dismiss The Playboy Club rather quickly, but I have to admit that its trailer does appear to be somewhat intriguing. I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery and that seems to be central to the first season’s plot. Plus, it carries the Playboy name so maybe… you know… boobies and stuff.
Chances It Gets A Full Season: 45%
Recommendation: Thumbs in the middle. It faces a tough time period battle against established hits Castle and Hawaii Five-O and has a pretty weak lead-in from The Sing Off. Plus, NBC’s track record of launching new dramas in the past few years is less than stellar. It could end up being entertaining trash but anyone expecting a network version of Mad Men will probably be sorely disappointed.
Other Reading About The Playboy Club:
HitFix’s Dan Fienberg
The Futon Critic
TVLine’s Matt Webb Mitovich