Secret Diary of a Call Girl: The Final Season
Showtime // Unrated // $26.98 // August 9, 2011
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 15, 2011
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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, but 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 fourth and final season of "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" managed to pull together an entertaining and memorable eight episodes. Season three ended with Hannah's friend Ben (Iddo Goldberg) telling her that he loves her, and in Season four, the series focuses on where they take their relationship, and whether Hannah will give up her life as Belle. The ending result may satisfy some and disappoint others, but the good news is that the series does manage to wrap itself up in the usual eight episodes.

Of course, the fourth season isn't just about Hannah and Ben, as there are other things in Hannah's life that draw her attention back to her work as a call girl. First, there's the fact that her boss is in jail for money laundering. While her boss Stephanie (Cherie Lunghi) is in jail, not only is Hannah running the escort business, but she's also taking care of her boss' daughter, Poppy (Lily James) who is initially unaware of her mother's profession. Things get a little out of hand with Poppy in some instances, and another call girl, Charlotte (Gemma Chan) plays a part in creating some conflict in Hannah's work and personal life. Additionally, Belle is in talks with turning her book into a movie, which has some very unexpected results.

Season four offers more of the same in relation to Hannah/Belle's professional life and the men she sees, however the storylines involving her questioning whether or not she should remain an escort, her relationship with Ben, and her role as temporary boss remain engaging and fresh.

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.

After four seasons, "Secret Diaries of a Call Girl" remained well-acted and managed to offer a fine blend of comedy and light drama, while also creating a sympathetic and engaging main character.

The set includes all 8 episodes of the fourth season.

Episode 1: Belle's back! But with a new business proposition, an uninvited house guest in a new home, a challenging client and the all-important question hanging over her head: should she commit to best friend Ben? Belle's life has never been this complicated.

Episode 2: Has Belle taken on more than she can chew? As the reality of being a Madam at the agency, a girlfriend to live-in boyfriend Ben, a chaperone to Stephanie's daughter Poppy and a high-class escort hits home, Belle struggles. And, when she meets Ben's mother, there's an even bigger shock in store.

Episode 3: Belle's ability to separate work from pleasure is tested when she meets Harry, an alluring and dangerous new client. Meanwhile, Poppy's curiosity about Belle gets the better of her.

Episode 4: While weighing an offer to turn her book into a feature film, Belle attempts to help Poppy come to terms with recent revelations, but Poppy has other ideas. And the rivalry between Belle and dominatrix Charlotte continues when Charlotte plays a cruel trick, leaving Belle somewhat... holding the "Baby.

Episode 5: Having had a fight with Ben, Belle is determined to leave behind her complicated London life as she arrives in New York to ponder an offer to turn her life into a movie. But the experience isn't quite what she'd hoped and Belle soon starts to miss Ben. Meanwhile, Ben has his hands full with the increasingly minx-like Poppy and Madam-in-waiting Charlotte.

Episode 6: There's a nasty shock in store for Belle when she arrives home from New York, which leaves her in fighting spirits. She unleashes the closet wrestler in her client and battles Charlotte for London escort supremacy. But relations between Belle and Ben hit a new low when Poppy comes between them.

Episode 7: Belle throws herself into a vampire role play, but the appointment comes to an unfortunate end. Meanwhile, Ben and Belle's already-rocky relationship is further tested by an unpredictable Harry and alluring Poppy.

Episode 8: The series comes to a climatic end when Ben asks Belle to give up her job to save their relationship. Belle is thrown into turmoil and her life is further complicated by the presence of the dangerous Harry and a client who looks...familiar. It's decision time: her relationship or her job?... Belle or Hannah?


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: There are some biographies included for the cast/crew, as well as a photo gallery featuring behind-the-scene photos.

Final Thoughts: "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" offers a nice wrap-up in this final season, which again offers a fine performance from Piper. The DVD edition provides satisfactory audio/video quality, as well as a couple of minor extras.

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