A refocused, revised pilot loses track of the Bunnys
Normally I like long and unwieldy introductions to reviews, but in the interest of time, I'm going to cut right to the chase here...
If you're a show that's already going to have a struggle to convince viewers that you're attempting to depict a period of female empowerment rather than exploitation, perhaps the best thing to do when reshooting large chunks of your pilot isn't to thin out the character moments that focus on your female stars in favor of giving more screentime to your bland Don Draper manque.
That's just my suggestion.
And it should be pretty rudimentary, right? When making a show that wants to be feminist in nature -- or, at the very least, not overtly sexist -- one should always err on the side of your living, breathing leading ladies and not on the well-decorated masculine mannequin. It's just common sense.
Unfortunately, between the original pilot for "The Playboy Club" sent to critics in May and the revised pilot sent earlier this month, changes were made the tipped the balance. Whereas I kinda enjoyed the original pilot, about women at Chicago's Playboy Club in the early 1960s, I was significantly less enamored of the revised pilot, airing on Monday (September 19) night, which feels much more like the story of a handsome Chicago attorney in the 1960s who likes to spend a lot of time being admired by the Bunnies at the Playboy Club.
I was willing to go on the journey with that first version of the show. Did I totally buy its empowerment message? No. But I was willing to accept that what seems progressive to my 21st Century eyes wouldn't have any relationship to what would seem progressive to women in 1960-ish.
I'm a good deal more cautious about the second version of the show, because it no longer feels like "The Playboy Club" itself is convinced by what it was formerly selling and has decided to gamble on a different horse. And when that horse takes the form of Eddie Cibrian, it's not that I'm fleeing the betting window in horror, but I've been fooled too many times for any confidence.
More after the break...