Background: As one of the reviewers at DVD Talk to concentrate his efforts on adult or mature fare, I tend to get dibs on some of the better porn and titles associated with the complete lack of social redeeming values that many of you find favor with. My point of view is that men like watching hot ladies in limited clothing (if any) bounce around and tantalize which is why I have enjoyed watching even the lighter titles like the Playboy 2006 Video Calendar, The Girls of McDonald, Hottest Housewives, and Playboy: At The Beach since I grew up reading (yeah, looking at the words in between my admittedly more concentrated focus with the pictures) Playboy decades ago. Men look at attractive women and that's not going to change, no matter how much it upsets some femi-misfits, and the old adage "It doesn't matter where you get the appetite as long as you eat at home" as espoused to me by a former girlfriend has always struck me as the healthiest way to view such material. Well, for those of you in the dark ages, the published pictures in Playboy have long featured airbrushed babes posing and stoking our male fantasies but the video revolution back in the 1980's fueled an expansion in the company special projects by making a series of fantasy vignette driven short films, each lasting under an hour called the Playboy Wet & Wild series, originally on VHS and then later on DVD as the popular medium overtook the tape format. Today's review is on the collection of the ten part series and rather than try and bore you with a listing of each starlet or scenario, consider this to be a brief glimpse that will tell you if the series is something you might enjoy or not.
First off, if you're a hardcore porn junkie who fusses about condoms, gals that don't do the latest circus act sex tricks, or have a very specific fetish involving whips and chains, you can pretty much forget about enjoying this one. All it will do is bore you for the 8.5 hours (or until you stop watching in frustration) the series provides and there are far too many choices on the market to waste your time and money like that. The basic premise of the series is that almost all the approximately 5 minute long vignettes have water as a theme with the busty playmates prancing about in scenarios designed to take full advantage of the natural substance; typically starting off at least partially dressed and then ending up without a stitch of clothing on their physically gifted bodies. The limitations of this format include the repetitive nature of the vignettes; no hardcore sex takes place and men are rarely in evidence as the ladies sun themselves, rub themselves, and occasionally caress one another before the scenario ends and the next one starts up.
The first disc of the series contains Wet & Wild I, II, III and appropriately enough, starts with a Pirates theme (appropriate for this discussion considering it was the best basis for the best selling porno of last year at least). The volume of material here means that some situations are revisited by different ladies, with beach, swimming pool, and car wash themes plentiful as were showering and bathing themes. The idea was rarely to seek out the strangest possible scenario so much as to focus on believable situations that have a lot of power for us due to the commonality of the experience. Most of us have experienced the joy of girl watching at a beach (even if just at a landlocked lake) so that type of fantasy appeals to a broad spectrum of us. The same holds true for the bathing vignettes or the strip club teases but you could dig deeper if that were your purpose too. It seemed like a lot of desert fantasies where the life giving quality of water was nurtured by the playmates as they poured copious quantities on their parched bodies or down their throats (head tilted back as though other fluids were being consumed in an erotic manner) were provided too.
Keeping in mind that the series started in 1989 and continued through until 2002, there were some minor adaptations that took place as the series evolved but by and large, it didn't change much and some would say that this is why the series (and company itself) saw a downturn in fortunes. As hardcore material became increasingly available to home consumers, as Playboy on cable aired the shows for free (at least not as pay per view extra costs to subscribers), and as a number of competitors sprang forth that offered an increasingly diverse selection of equally attractive ladies that would either do more or address specific niches/fetishes, the Playboy Wet & Wild Series felt the squeeze. Of all the company shows though, these worked the established formula the best for me (with the possible exception of the volumes that showcased an individual starlet) and getting the entire ten volume series in a single three disc package when most of them are out of print was too sweet a deal to pass up.
The major selling point for me as the series came into the new millennium was the use of Playboy's bigger name stars; though it seemed to be like a farm team at times when a newcomer would prove popular and get exposure in the magazine and/or become a playmate, most of the time the series simply took the already proven quantities and made them bigger. I'm not going to list every gal in every vignette but the repeat use of Jenny McCarthy, the handful of clips with Pamela Anderson, numerous Playmate of the Year models, and grade Z movie regulars like Dona Speir gave me reason to keep watching. In the final volume of the series, the Wet & Wild X: Live! Backstage Pass show, the emphasis changed to a showcase presentation where the gals would simply perform as though live without the filmed scenarios bogging them down. I had mixed feelings about that approach but at least the producers were trying to stay modern or try new things, even if ultimately it proved to be too little, too late. The titles in the series were as follows (noting that the later volumes stopped the numbering):
Wet & Wild I
Wet & Wild II
Wet & Wild III
Wet & Wild IV
Wet & Wild V
Wet & Wild VI: The Locker Room
Wet & Wild VII: Hot Holidays
Wet & Wild VIII: Bottoms Up
Wet & Wild IX: Slippery When Wet
Wet & Wild X: Live! Backstage Pass
So, how exactly do you rate a series that you've personally enjoyed for the last 15+ years, given there were no real extras, no new content, and only a marginal increase in technical values like a better picture and audio? For me, the equation includes the fact that there were ten volumes, a low price, and some of my favorite ladies doing all kinds of teasing in fantasies that I've had longer than many of the ladies have been alive; Recommended.
Picture: Playboy Wet & Wild Complete Series: was presented in the original 1.33:1 ratio full frame color the vignettes were shot in over the years between 1989 and 2002 by various directors and cameramen (some of whom are better known under their porn aliases by the way). Some of the older volumes had more grain than average and compression artifacts but in overall terms, they looked better here than I remember the ones that I saw years ago. The fleshtones were largely accurate, the composition of the shots tended to favor the ladies more than a little bit (this has long been an area of excellence in the Playboy Empire), and the deficiencies minimal as the fantasy clips were presented in the same format they proved to be so popular in years ago.
Sound: The audio was presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo English but the vocals were mostly voice overs and that lowered the heat for me. The music seemed to have some mainstream hits, albeit older hits, that were left intact but any changes in the soundtrack were unreported and this isn't the type of show where the music is paramount to a successful release if a few were altered over copyright issues.
Extras: The only extra included was a double sided DVD cover and a paper insert that had a small montage of pictures.
Final Thoughts: Playboy Wet & Wild Series was a romp through memory lane (or was that mammary lane?) with regard to the series of water related vignettes that showcased a number of very physically appealing ladies teasing the camera in a variety of unrelated vignettes. The three discs had about eight and a half hours of material with decent technical values and lots of fun so it should be no surprise that if you're appreciative of lighter adult fare, Playboy Wet & Wild: The Complete Series will be well worth checking out. It won't suit everyone's needs but I have to hand it to Image for releasing the series in this form as it bodes well that they might try the approach with some of the other series by Playboy that I'd like to see in value oriented sets.