I want to clarify a few things at the outset of this unfavorable review of The Girls Next Door Season Six, including the fact that prior to this I had not seen seasons 1 through 5.
But considering this isn't like walking into something like Lost mid-run I assumed I would be more than up to the task. For starters, I love gratuitous female nudity; it can liven up even the worst of movies and somehow make it all seem worthwhile (if I can paraphrase the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show). I make no bones about finding comfort in the dumbest of the dumb when it comes to entertainment when the mood strikes, and my tastes typically have no firm boundaries. I'll even admit that back in my teen years the mystique of the Playboy Mansion was huge, and the fantastic thoughts of "what goes on there?" that wriggled through my skull back then escalated the place to near mythical status.
So why the hate for this?
I wish I knew. Really, I wish I fucking knew. It seems to have everything that's on my prerequisite list: attractive girls who frequently doff their duds, an inside look at The Playboy Mansion, supremely mind numbing situations and revelations. But the truth is this show drained me mentally, as if I were huffing paint thinner in an enclosed room for 243 minutes. While I applaud the uncensored presentation spread across these ten episodes (aka: there's nudity and language not seen on the E! broadcasts) I couldn't even take satisfaction in the flagrant skin because the whole quasi-manufactured reality show format is a mixture of the insulting and idiotic, a lowest common denominator exercise set in some weird dying fantasy world that now just seems pathetic. Hugh Hefner - while certainly having lived some part of the prurient adolescent fantasy for decades - is now a shuffling old man in a smoking jacket and captain's hat, and though it's an inevitable fate that awaits us all (the aging, not the smoking jacket/captain's hat) he is trotted out as a sad caricature of himself, surrounded by ass-kissing girls who have to SPEAK UP AND TALK SLOWER when they have a conversation with him. Very depressing.
Apparently the wrinkle for this 2009 season is that the "original" batch of girls have left the mansion and we're introduced to relative newcomers Crystal Harris and 19-year-old twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon as the centerpieces. Crystal seems like a nice enough girl, but it's tough to work up any suspense at wondering if Hef will like her nude photo shoot enough to make her a Playmate. Have you seen her nude? I mean really: what's not to like? The fake tension of the shoot exists here to showcase Crystal nude (thanks for that!) and while that's all well and good from the most base standpoint it seemed like manipulative boob-induced filler. The twins, on the other hand, are all I dislike about the world today, a pair of giggly youngsters who wear find great fun in hanging thongs from chandeliers or working their little brains very hard when it comes to learning how to pole dance for a film role.
Gosh, life is hard when you're temporarily riding Hef's gravy train, I guess.
When the show tries to paint 55th anniversary playmate Dasha Astafieva as a home-wrecking villainness - whether she is or isn't is irrelevant - I had to roll my eyes at the lazy forced drama being foisted upon me. Maybe it says something about me but Dasha was the European bad girl spark that gave her arc the kind of lift lacking in the other episodes. Dasha and her see-through dress is temporary fun stuff in season that lacks it, especially as she peels off her thong on the red carpet in Italy, gives Hef a hideous painting, and wears her hair pulled back so tight she seems like a henchwoman extra out of a campy action movie.
This is bottom tier programming, and for reasons I can't quite rationalize even the abundant nudity isn't enough for me to find this even remotely entertaining. Instead, it's sad, lonely and just a little desperate.
As the show has progressed over six seasons so has the aspect ratio, as all episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and that's a step up from previous fullscreen season sets. Despite my unwavering dislike of the series there is little to quabble with on the quality of the transfers, as all sport vibrant colors and warm fleshtones (which for a show set at the Playboy Mansion is key). A wee bit of aliasing is evident sporadically, but overall the presentation here is well above bar for such lowly content.
The 2.0 stereo audio is a workable vessel for the material, with everything clear and discernible. There's not a lot of opportunity for the audio presentation to necessitate being flashy, and the mix here is more than up to the task of being perfectly average for the on-location coverage, whether it be a crowded event in Italy or somewhere in the bowels of the Mansion.
There's a feeble attempt to give this 2-disc set some heft by including commentary tracks on all episodes (except for the "special" season-opening "Transitions" ep), but if that means more vacuous, pointless ramblings by Crystal and the twins I vote "no thanks". They offer little in the way of substance, and actually little in the way of commentary, as most tracks are slathered in long, silent gaps. There are a total of seventeen equally unnecessary deleted scenes, typically about two per episode, which if you are a glutton for even more giggly dumbness (exciting moments such as the girls at a pumpkin patch) go right ahead and have at it.
I feel stupider for having seen this, and despite the skin I can't even muster the enthusiasm to give this a "look at the boobies" recommendation.