Coming this fall on NBC Mondays is The Playboy Club. It appears that NBC is attempting to capitalize on the success of AMC‘s Mad Men and the retro-modern cool of the 1960s. The show takes place in Chicago at the Playboy Club during its heyday. These private nightclubs were a franchise owned and operated by the Playboy Enterprises.

I already notice several flaws with this pilot. First of all, this show is on NBC. It is going to be a challenge dealing with sexual subject matter on network television; the element of sex is crucial with the nightclub as a backdrop, it is going to be unavoidably watered down. It would have been much more compelling as a cable show. Secondly, they built in a trite storyline surrounding an accidental murder of a mobster. Death by stiletto heel?! Really?! Why not just chronicle the conception and creation, the building of, its prominence, the actual inner-workings of the Playboy Club, its activities and patrons, during its time in Chicago? This focus would have been way more interesting than the hackneyed plot they have used as a narrative hook to launch the series. Lame exposition and setup.

Another problem is that Eddie Cibrian, the male lead, is just not likeable. His acting skills are somewhat tepid and he has limited charisma. Cibrian just lacks the old-soul swagger that is needed to pull off this period show. Deeming him “Don Draper Light” would be an insult to Jon Hamm and Hamm’s acting chops. At first glance, no offense to Cibrian, this is a poor casting choice for this particular show. He might be more suited for a daytime drama.

On the other hand, if it is shot well (the preview looks great), it will be worth watching just for the nostalgic comeliness of the milieu of the 1960s. Amber Heard will add some serious sex appeal. Character actor and scene stealer, David Krumholtz, will add some legitimate acting. Maybe most importantly, an accomplished television director, Alan Taylor, is on board. Taylor has directed episodes for some powerhouse shows including, Homicide: Life on the Streets, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Lost, The Sopranos, and Mad Men to name a few. This fall, we will give The Playboy Club a chance, unless of course, there is not an NFL lockout and Monday Night Football is on.

about the show

It’s the early ’60s, and the legendary Playboy Club in Chicago is the door to all your fantasies… and the key is the most sought-after status symbol of its time.

Step inside the seductive world of the Bunny, the epitome of beauty and service, and rub shoulders with the decade’s biggest mobsters, politicos and entertainers (like Tina Turner and Sammy Davis, Jr.) With all these larger than life ambitions, there are even greater secrets. Like when innocent new Bunny Maureen – who wants to take the world by storm – accidentally kills one of the Windy City’s most powerful mafia bosses… and the only person capable of covering it up and protecting her is Nick Dalton, a man who once worked for the mob but is about to run for district attorney. Bunny Alice is married but hiding an explosive personal life while Bunny Janie is running from a past that threatens to catch up with her. It seems everyone has a secret – none more so than Maureen, who may not even be the innocent orphan she appears to be. Thank goodness Hef’s Playboy Mansion is open after hours for a little R&R… and burying your past.

From Academy Award-winning Executive Producer Brian Grazer, Executive Producer Chad Hodge (Tru Calling), and Director Alan Taylor (Mad Men) comes a provocative new series about a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary created an empire, and an icon changed American culture.

The Playboy Club in New York City made it into the storyline in “Hands and Knees”, Season 4, Episode 10 of Mad Men.

Lane Pryce, his father, and Don Draper chill at the Playboy Club NYC

Hugh Hefner and the Bunnies, circa 1965

Hugh Hefner and the Bunnies, 1960

Hef inspects the Bunnies before opening, 1969

Hugh Hefner and the Bunnies, circa 1960

Francis at the Playboy CLub