Universal // 2008 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // May 28th, 2008
It's a jungle out there. Dress accordingly.
All over the promo spots for Lipstick Jungle, you couldn't miss "from the author of the best-selling novel Sex and the City." It was an odd year for designer knockoffs of the much beloved HBO series as two major network programs sought to become the new Sex and the City for the masses of women out there still feeling a void years after that sensation ended its television run. Lipstick Jungle (which had author Candace Bushnell helping out) and Cashmere Mafia (helmed by Sex and the City producer Darren Starr) went head to head in a ratings battle, and neither hit the jackpot with viewers despite star-studded casts and lots of designer clothes. Yet, somehow, Lipstick Jungle won the war, because it is coming back for another season thanks to better ratings and a more significant storyline. Lipstick Jungle: Season One will be followed by another set of discs in the future; whereas, Cashmere Mafia has been canceled and is finished. So I guess we'll be seeing more of Brooke Shields and less of Lucy Liu on the small screen in 2008.
The premise of Lipstick Jungle is all about women in their forties who are just as powerful as men; they are the major providers for their families, and yet they are not your typical "witchy" business women. The show follows three high-powered gal pals at the top of their chosen creative professions in Manhattan -- each of them is officially ranked on the list of "New York's most powerful women." There's Nico (Kim Raver, 24), who is the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine, movie executive Wendy (Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon), and fashion designer Victory (Lindsay Price,Beverly Hills 90210). The story zooms in on the three success stories as they struggle and support each other through highs and lows, but there are some men in the mix. Wendy fights to produce an Oscar-worthy picture while supporting her underemployed husband (Paul Blackthorne, The Dresden Files), Julian Sands (Boxing Helena) plays Nico and Wendy's high-powered, gossip-hungry boss who seems impossible to please (he's a Rupert Murdoch-mogul character); Victory has a billionaire suitor played by ex-"Brat Packer" Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink); and there's the attractive photographer (Robert Buckley, Killer Movie) who ends up in an affair with Nico, who is in a sexless marriage at the moment. In contrast to the single women of Sex and the City, two of these three leads are married, so they can add some marital drama to the mix of three women wanting it all. Don't think the series doesn't have its share of sexy moments littered throughout, but somehow this one is more driven by business and races to the top.
The writers strike of 2008 left many shows in the lurch, and Lipstick Jungle only got to produce seven shows out of its planned season. This makes Lipstick Jungle: Season One feel like a short but promising package. The characters are well cast, and the story follows the basic premise of the book pretty closely. The series has a lot going for it, with a likable cast headed up by Brooke Shields, and nice production values that make New York City look just as glamorous as it has in the past. It's certainly an engaging show that deserves a second season to see if it can find its legs. What the audience gets here in the first seven episodes is simply the introduction to each character, and an idea what her struggle will involve.
Lipstick Jungle was broadcast in HDTV, and it looks great on DVD. The widescreen transfers look as lush as the high-powered settings, and colors are appropriately saturated and well executed. There's a nicely done surround five speaker sound mix that adds a lot to the presentation. Technically everything looks great in this "jungle."
As a package, Lipstick Jungle: Season One feels a bit light on content. The DVD set splits the seven episodes across two discs, with four episodes on disc one and three on the second. Deleted scenes are the only extras we get, and it feels a little short changed. There is no insight from the cast or crew, and nothing from Candace Bushnell, either. It seems like we should be getting more for our hard-earned dollar, and there's no justification for charging consumers about the same price when we aren't getting even half a season and hardly any supplements. I'm afraid TV on DVD will have to face that from this season, and it's going to be interesting to see how things pan out.
We'll have to see if this one has legs or not. Fans of Candace Bushnell will recall that the first season or two of Sex and the City wobbled until they found the right voice. This one seems more grounded, but not in reality. Rather, this one uses power as the new sex for women, and the hardest thing to buy is that these three gorgeous, wealthy women could ever have a truly bad day. Perhaps that is what makes Lipstick Jungle great escapist entertainment, the chance to see three women who have it all and just want more. Is anyone ever truly happy? Guess we'll see next season if these women can find out. Until then, we have this light on content but promising package to check out.
Guilty of wanting to be the next big "chick" drama, Lipstick
Jungle amps up more on the power and less of the "sex in the
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes