Monday, January 27, 2014

The Girls Next Door – The Complete Series DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
For six eye-opening seasons, The Girls Next Door dropped the towel to reveal all the goings-on at the Playboy Mansion and beyond, from exotic European escapades to sexy and scary camp-outs in the “wilds” of the Mansion’s backyard, from tender moments among friends and lovers to the occasional friendly rivalry among the Playmates. The Girls Next DoorThe Complete Series captures it all in 35 glorious hours, centering around the three original girls – Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson – as well as newcomers Crystal Harris (who came this close to becoming the next Mrs. Hef) and the centerfold twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon.

Film (3 out of 5 stars) 

The Girl’s Next Door refers to Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends.  Holly, who is considered the main girlfriend, shares a room with Hef and spends the most time with him.  Bridget and Kendra are basically extra girlfriends who each have their own bedrooms.  Bridget is the most educated of the girlfriends with both a bachelor’s and a Master’s degree under her belt, and she continues to go to school during the show.  Kendra knows her best asset is her body and she caught Hef’s attention after getting her body painted.  Season after season, the girlfriends get to do things they certainly never would have been able to without Hef and his money.  They attend award shows; take trips to NY, Chicago, and Europe.  There are also multiple trips to Las Vegas to visit their Playmate friends, open the Playboy club and visit the Hugh Hefner Suite at the Palms Casino.   The girls also have their own activities where they take day trips to their home towns (attempting to meet Hef’s 9 p.m. curfew), shoot a workout video, plan parties for each other, so everything doesn’t always center around Hef.
To me,  Bridget is kind of sweet,  Holly is completely clueless, and Kendra’s personality just drives me crazy.  I’m sure that men may be more forgiving since I realize that all three of them would irritate me less if I actually enjoyed looking at them naked.  While the girls didn’t do much for me, I did find Hugh Hefner pretty interesting.  He obviously has a ridiculous amount of money, but I had no idea he had an entire staff waiting on him non-stop.  There is a team of butlers on call 24 hours a day to be ready to serve him any meal whenever he wants it.  Even more interesting to me, is that he is such a creature of habit since he eats the same soup every day or the same breakfast in the same specific way (cereal with cut up bananas on the bottom).  Another insight into the man is that even with all his money that would allow him to go anywhere in the world, he is quite happy to remain in his mansion.  On the rare occasions where he does have to leave the mansion, his extensive staff works hard to make everywhere he goes feel as comfortable as home.  I even found watching him scold wait staff at a restaurant interesting (they took too long with his dinner).  It seems as though everyone knows and expects that Hef likes things in a very particular way and you don’t mess with that.  It’s amazing how involved Hef is in every detail of the magazine and all its spin off events, and it’s even more amazing that the man is in his eighties.
Towards the very end, things do start to change. Girlfriends move on and new ones like Crystal and the Shannon twins appear.  The episode titled transitions really explains it all.  It’s Hugh Hefner, you have to expect that girlfriends come and girlfriends go but when I think of The Girls Next Door I think of Holly, Bridget and Kendra.  Holly is now off doing a burlesque show in Las Vegas, Bridget and Kendra had spin off shows of their own (although Bridget’s only made it to the pilot stage) and Crystal almost married Hef but called it off.  Don’t feel too bad for Hef though, since he now has the Shannon twins to keep him company.  My love of reality shows is the only thing I can think of that could have possibly possessed me to watch The Girls Next Door.  I watch a lot of trashy reality television, but The Girls Next Door are really not suited for me, but I’m sure a lot of men would enjoy it (it’s probably the only reality TV show that men would like)!

Video (3 out of 5 stars) 

The Girls Next Door is unfortunately only on DVD, not Blu-ray which I’m sure will disappoint a lot of men that would have liked to have seen the girls in high definition.  Seasons one through five have a full frame (1.33:1) ratio while season six has a (1.78:1) ratio.  The colors look good and the very important flesh tones also look natural (something has to!) and consistent.  The black levels are fairly solid but the night footage is often very grainy and has a lot of noise it reminds you that you’re not watching high definition footage.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars) 

The Girls Next Door is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.  The dialogue is clear and consistent and did not need adjusting.  There is nothing amazing about any part of the soundtrack, (which wasn’t that great), whether it’s the musical guests at the mansion or the score itself.  Effects are well balanced with the rest of the mix which includes animals roaming the property.

Special Features (3 out of 5 stars) 

There are a lot of special features, some of which seem pretty pointless and strike me as just being a lot of filler.  With such a large set, I was a little bit annoyed when I was trying to locate all the features.  Some were harder to find than others.  I would have preferred a special features disc since the placement of the features throughout the series was a little odd as well.
Seasons One and Two Special Features:
  • Deleted Scenes – Deleted scenes are found on multiple discs throughout the set.
  • Un-aired Pilot Presentation – Hef’s World – An episode of the Girl’s Next Door with slightly more of a focus on Hugh Hefner, although a lot of the episode is devoted to Bridget and her birthday party.
  • All About the Girls – Each of the girls explain where they came from, how they got to the mansion and provide additional details about themselves.
  • Photo Gallery – Still shots related to the episodes.  Not photos from the magazine if that’s what you’re hoping for!
  • Happy Birthday Hef! – Special Premier Version of the First Two Episodes
  • Happy Birthday Hef! Podbusters – Very short clips.  I don’t see the point of having these.
  • Career Dazed Promo – A preview of the episode.
Seasons Three and Four Special Features:
  • Bedtime Stories:  The Best of the Girls Next Door - Hef and the Girls talk about clips from the show – high and low points.  I don’t know that I’d call it the “best”.
  • Season 3 Teaser – A Teaser Trailer for season three.
Seasons Five and Six Special Features:
  • The Bunny House Pilot – Basically the girls across the street from The Girls Next Door, and a lot less interesting.

Final Thoughts (3 out of 5 stars) 

The Girls Next Door on DVD is different from what you see on TV in two big ways – it has nudity and swearing that you wouldn’t see on cable TV.  I’m not sure who I would recommend this to.  The girls I know that like reality TV, probably don’t want to see the naked chicks.  The guys I know that like naked chicks probably don’t want to sit through the reality aspect of the show.  I’ll have to think about whether or not this would make a good Christmas gift for the guys I know, or if I should just skip right to the Playboy subscription and give them what they really want.
Order your copy today!

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