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Girls Next Door: Season 5, The
Kendra, Holly and Bridget still rule the house in Season 5 of a little show called The Girls Next Door. There's a contingent out there that doesn't know about this show. I don't want to know about that contingent. They don't understand that the silicone-enhanced pseudo-reality masterpiece that follows three of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's girlfriends is an astounding distillation of all that is good, pure, and full of boobies on TV.
However, this review will be full of all that is critical, snarky and spoileriffic, so if you somehow don't know what's been going on in the Playboy Mansion over the last year (which probably means you have no interest in this show anyway) then do yourself a favor and start watching from the beginning, knowing that Season 5 is a very worthy addition to the series.
Starting slowly, the show takes up with all the usual motifs: Bridget plans parties, Kendra avails herself of those parties, and Holly calls Hef Puffin every chance she gets. You can almost see Puffin cringe through the creases in his party-worn face. When Holly works up the nerve to redecorate the Playmate House, two things become apparent. 1) That mid-century marvel has gotten skanktastic over the years, with booze and vomit stains all over the scruffy carpet, and 2) the girls really are concerned that Hef will disapprove of their willful ways. Happily, Hef rarely seems to care, as long as he can make a crack about getting the girls into his perpetually-covered-with-magazines bed. So the girls contract to have new carpet put in after they paint the rooms pink and red, revealing that they've never lifted paintbrushes in their lives. Kendra gets so loopy on the fumes that she takes off her shirt to paint her boobs. She notes, "The paint went deep into my nipple pores. It's not worth it, do not paint your boobs." Point taken.
Further intimating possible de-evolution of the show are some of the travel episodes. The girls travel the country to pick a 55th Anniversary Playmate, visit Mardi Gras in New Orleans and also journey to Kentucky for the Derby. The best Holly can muster in her growing disinterest is her submission for a new state motto: Kentucky, Wanna Fuckee? Swinging by Aspen, Colorado, our heroines drop in on the 25,000-square-foot home of Barbi Benton and husband George. While the couple clearly swim in money, it hasn't bought them style, as control-freak Benton (oddly enough an interior decorator) has turned their copper castle into a nightmare of non-Euclidian Southwest style - every surface covered with colorful shards of pottery and the like. It's a delightfully horrific view into the lifestyles of the Rich and Unhinged that sets the tone for the rest of Season 5.
But then highlighting this season, the show in total, and Hefner's life too, is a visit to Hef's scrapbook library, featuring thousands of volumes from Hef's childhood to present. It's here his grandfatherly relationship with the girls comes into focus, as they reminisce about parties and girlfriends nearly sixty years gone. For our pleasure, awesome snapshots of Hef's style parade before our eyes, plus lots of archival footage displaying the gadabout's debonair and swinging ways. Fans of the man and the Playboy Empire will truly enjoy this trip down memory lane, even as it clearly means to lead us to some kind of exit door.
Hints of change begin dropping with regularity as the show's editors display their mettle. Frequent shots of the girls gazing wistfully out the windows or looking uncomfortably towards Hef as he intrudes on their doings blow through the usual stuff like an ill wind. Maybe it's that trip to Benton's place, a trip that shows the girls they can have more than pink, girlish suites in an octogenarian's mansion, but somehow it's clear they're simply rattling around the house now. Kendra (now squarely on my list of ten people I'd love to invite for a dinner party) drags herself around desultorily in dark glasses and slippers, Holly's exclamations of 'Puffin!' resound hollowly, and Bridget's clearly got something up her sleeve. I won't spoil any more, except to say that the season capper ends on a triumphantly bittersweet note, cementing The Girls Next Door in place as the ultimate in Reality TV - all that's good, pure and full of boobies.
Our fullframe (1.33:1 ratio) episodes are of standard quality for this series, with eye-popping colors and nice, sharp levels of detail. Aliasing appears occasionally, and I noticed one instance of heavy use of digital noise reduction, but that's about it. Be assured that you can clearly see Kendra's painty nipple pores.
English Dolby Digital Stereo Audio mixes things right, soundtrack music and dialog are never forced to compete, and volume levels are sensible, neither too hot nor to quiet. It's not the most amazingly active mix, and it doesn't need to be.
The Girls Next Door: Season 5 comes with the usual complement of frothy, empty calorie extras we've come to expect from this series. Commentary Tracks with the girls accompany each episode with standard giggles, as well as Deleted Scenes and Bonus scenes - we're talking about a lit of extra scenes that aren't that far off from those scenes that actually made the cut. English and Spanish Subtitles and Closed Captioning finish things off.
16 uncensored 24-minute episodes from Season 5 (minus the two-parter season finale, apparently) are here to delight and astound you with a level of unreal reality that only the life of Hef and his buxom beauties can create. Beginning with standard Girls Next Door shenanigans, (that in themselves represent way too much fun for TV) Season 5 soon turns - as much as it can - thoughtful and deep, providing that extra level of boob-fueled entertainment that you've come to expect. Change is afoot at the Playboy Mansion, and it's never been weirder or sexier. Recommended.