Ever since the magazine went on sale in 1954 (and since the Playboy mansion was bought in '71), there's been a lot of fantasizing about Playboy's Playmates. However, for all the fantasizing that's been done about them, these women who live at the mansion have never been explored (well, in terms of who they are) in much depth.
Enter "E!"'s "Girls Next Door", which takes viewers into the secretive mansion in order to follow the lives of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and his three main women: Holly (#1, Hef's girlfriend for 3-1/2 years), Bridget (#2, my favorite as she's the least slick, reminding me of a character from the beauty pageant spoof, "Drop Dead Gorgeous") and athletic newcomer Kendra (#3), who seems to have a lot more attitude in this second season. They're all blonde and blonder, but one's sporty and a tomboy, one's the smart one (who acts like a ditz) and one's the one the head girl who wants the other ones out of the picture. Holly brought out the claws in the first episode, with: "I think he needs to get rid of the extra girls." Despite the fact that the girls are always civil and even friendly to one another, there's occasionally a slight hint of a potential catfight.
Lording over it all is Hef, who is occasionally seen in the background of the series. While Hef is 80 at this point, he's still seen in the series working intensely, taking meetings and approving elements of the latest issue. He'll also hit the town with the girls, and we see the group heading out to events. There was also a series of interesting tidbits tossed out in the intro season, such as the fact that Hef enforces a 9pm curfew, is the only private owner in LA with a fireworks permit and doesn't like to travel. This season we find out facts like the popular Easter egg hunt at the Playboy Mansion has guests hunting for over 3,000 eggs.
"Girls" is as lightweight as you'd probably expect. In fact, this is the show's main issue: while it generally manages to create enough situations for these women, there are stretches of the series that mainly revolve around the ladies goofing around in the mansion, chasing after their yappy little dogs (one of the funniest moments of the season has one of the girls dressing up their dog in an absurd Easter outfit, which leads the dog to literally just slumping on the floor, looking potentially like the most depressed animal ever) and one uppity kitty while they try to fill their days at the Mansion.
I noted in my review of the first season that the series sometimes seems to be scrambling to put together things to do. While the second season does manage to send the bunnies on some trips (the girls and Hef visit Kendra's mother, who admits to having little idea on how to be a host and there's also a European vacation for the trio), the majority of the episodes focus on day-to-day events (throwing a party for a playmate leaving the mansion, throwing a party for the pooches, the girls not quite realizing what they got themselves into when they make a workout video) of the mansion. Seemingly in an attempt to add some more spice to the series, there seems to be considerably more nudity in this season than the first.
Overall, this is a light, fun series that offered an enjoyable look behind-the-scenes at the mansion. It does sometimes seem to strain to find enough things to do to fill the time, but it works as fluffy reality TV with the bonus of nudity.
16 Here's Looking at You, Hef! 7/30/2006
17 80 Is the New 40 7/30/2006
18 Career Dazed 8/6/2006
19 Mutiny in the Booty 8/13/2006
20 San Diego or Busts 8/20/2006
21 Heavy Petting 9/3/2006
22 Sleepwear Optional 9/10/2006
23 I See London, I See France 9/17/2006
24 When in Rome 9/24/2006
25 Baby Talk 10/1/2006
26 21 Club 10/8/2006
27 Girls Will Be Ghouls 10/15/2006
28 The Age of Aquarium 10/29/2006
29 Rabbit Season 11/5/2006
30 We Can Work It Out 11/12/2006
31 Playboys After Dark 11/19/2006
VIDEO: "Girls Next Door" is presented by Fox in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The presentation quality is generally terrific, although there are some moments where sharpness varied slightly. Still, the majority of the episodes looked crisp and detailed. Some minor shimmering and a few slight artifacts are spotted, but the picture largely appeared clean and clear. Colors remained bright and vibrant throughout, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Girls Next Door" is presented in stereo and the audio offers clear dialogue, with no distortion or other issues.
EXTRAS: Kendra, Holly and Bridget offer audio commentary for all of the episodes. Their commentary offers some fun behind-the-scenes tidbits, jokes about the episode and general chit-chat. Fans will enjoy the discussions, but there are certainly some stretches of silence at times.
Each disc offers plenty of deleted scenes for the episodes, as well. Although a fair amount of these rightly hit the cutting room floor, some offer entertaining moments that should be fun for fans. We also get episode promos, a combo "premiere" version of the first two episodes and an extended version of "Girls Will Be Ghouls."
Final Thoughts: This is a light, fun reality series that takes viewers behind-the-scenes at the legendary mansion, with Hef's three "leading ladies" as the guides. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality and a very nice set of supplements. Recommended for fans.