A sleek late-night comedy/drama from Showtime, "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" has been a success for the network, standing out as a success, both critically and commercially. The series may be racy in its content, it does certainly at least give a fine try at trying to delve deeper into the spiritual and emotional side of the characters.
The series is based upon the book, "The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl", which was apparently based upon the real-life stories of one "Belle de Jour". The series focuses on Hannah Baxter (Billie Piper), a seemingly average woman in London who spends her nights as a high-end call girl. The show focuses on her attempts to balance an unusual professional life with her personal life, and both the laughs and sadness that results.
The second season sees the series open out Hannah/Belle's life a bit, with the inclusion of a young woman, Bambi (Ashley Madekwe), who becomes both a new friend and a co-worker who Belle - who has now become an independent call girl after leaving mentors. There's also Alex (Callum Blue), who Belle meets accidentally while on the job, as she mistakes him for another client. While the two start to find feelings for one another (and her going on an actual date with someone is more than a little awkward, at first), there's the matter of her telling him what she does at night - or him finding out first. Belle's friend, Ben (Iddo Goldberg) also has feelings for her, as well, which complicates matters throughout the season.
The series does become mildly repetitive at times, but it's thanks to Piper's lovely, confident performance that the series is as enjoyable as it is. The Brit actress gives depth and feeling to the performance, and creates a sympathetic character. While the occasional asides to the audience could be ridiculous, Piper's sly efforts allow them to go over surprisingly well. Madekwe provides an interesting, less composed contrast to Piper's performance, while Blue and Piper have solid chemistry together.
While I'm not sure how many seasons the show can pull out of the core storyline, "Secret Diaries of a Call Girl" is well-acted and manages to offer a fine blend of comedy and light drama, while also creating a sympathetic, engaging main character.
The set includes all 8 episodes of the second season.
1: After mistaking a man at the hotel bar for her client, Belle is followed by a journalist who tries to blackmail her regarding information about one of her high-profile clients - a politican. Bambi, a new call girl, asks Belle for advice and Belle finds that Alex - the man she mistook for a client - may not have been such a mistake.
2: Belle considers enhancing her breasts in order to gain more clients. Belle tries to act as a mentor to Bambi. While an unexpected date with Alex goes well, Belle gets a call from Bambi, who's in trouble.
3: After her date with Alex, Belle gets confronted by the angry wife of a client. Troubled by the encounter, Belle begins to consider the boundaries between her personal and private life.
4: Belle's business begins to fall off as her relationship with Alex improves. When Belle accepts a job, she has difficulty getting Alex out of her mind.
5: Belle decides that she's going to tell Alex what she does so that she can finally come clean to him, the man she's grown to love. However, first is an appointment with a disabled young man - but the meeting with the client does not go as expected.
6: Trying to keep her mind off Alex, Belle concentrated on work and agrees to accompany Bambi to a sex party at a country estate. While the strange party makes Belle suspicious, she goes against her rules and drinks on the job. When things do turn South, Ben comes to the rescue.
7: Belle convinces Alex to give the relationship another try and Belle decides to finally go straight and give up the job - she throws out her call girl gear and tries to fit into normal life, although that turns out to be a more rocky road than she could have even expected.
8: Belle's relationship with Alex is tested when she's offered one last job with a mystery client who has requested her. While she initially refuses, she realizes she misses the mystery and rush of the job. However, when she gets to the appointment, the client is the last person she ever expected.
VIDEO: "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" is presented by Showtime in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is generally quite good, as the image appears mostly crisp and detailed, although there are some minor moments here-and-there that look a little softer in comparison. No edge enhancement is present, but some slight shimmering and a couple of traces of pixelation are spotted. Colors are bright and vivid, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: Not surprisingly, the show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is generally a subtle affair, remaining dialogue-driven during most scenes. Audio quality was quite good, with clear dialogue and well-recorded music.
EXTRAS: Not a whole lot - we get a series of mildly enjoyable "webisode" features, as well as a brief EPK interview with actress Billie Piper. A couple of commentaries would have been nice, but this small selection of supplements is all that's offered.
Final Thoughts: "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" does have stretches that seem a tad repetitive, but overall, the series is worth watching thanks to Piper's delightful performance. The DVD edition provides satisfactory audio/video quality, as well as a couple of minor extras.