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Case Number 16770

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Secret Diary Of A Call Girl: Season Two

Lionsgate // 2008 // 176 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // July 8th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Christopher Kulik dated a call girl. He didn't know it until she asked for money the next morning.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Secret Diary Of A Call Girl: Season One (published January 6th, 2009) and Secret Diary Of A Call Girl: The Final Season (published August 9th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

What happens when a girl who loves for a living starts living for love?

Opening Statement

Readers of my review for Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season One know I wasn't all that impressed. I was hoping for an insightful look behind the trials and tribulations of being a high class courtesan. All I got were eight episodes focusing on the clients and their fetishes. That would have been fine, except the show didn't give me much information about our protagonist. It seemed like she was going through the motions, breaking the fourth wall every now and then for the sake of cleverness.

The sole virtue of Season One was star Billie Piper (Doctor Who). She exuded radiance, charm, and humor, even if her character was buried underneath mounds of Penthouse-style babble. With Piper now back in a new season of tricks, is there anything else to make it worthwhile? Luckily, yes.

Facts of the Case

When we last left Hannah (née Belle), she was still working for madam Stephanie (Cherie Lunghi, King David). Now Hannah has gone independent, thus keeping 100% of the fees. She still hangs out with her best mate Ben (Iddo Goldberg, Defiance). She even befriends a young ingénue named Bambi (Ashley Madekwe, How to Lost Friends and Alienate People), who's eager to learn the hooker ropes. And her relationships with her clients remain strictly professional for the most part. In other words, life couldn't be any more uncomplicated for her.

Then she meets a doctor named Alex (Callum Blue, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement). He's handsome, successful, and genuinely sincere. And he's fallen for Hannah big time, little realizing the double life she leads. At first, she attempts to not cross the line with Alex. However, they begin to see each other more and the inevitable happens. Will he turn away from her simply because of her profession? Or will she sacrifice her profession for true love? Let the drama begin…

The Evidence

Largely because of my verdict of Season One, I was sure giving the show a second chance would be a waste of time. And, yet, I was curious to see if creator Lucy Prebble would take the show in a different direction. This is never a cure of course, but it can be a start. What surprised me the most was not the romantic subplot, but the toning down of bedroom activity. Each episode in the first season detailed a different kind of sexual encounter, whether it involved multiple partners, S&M, or golden showers.

We spend more time following Hannah around away from work, which is an absorbing relief. Ironically, this sharp left turn makes Secret Diary of a Call Girl more seductive in its storytelling.

Season Two is more concerned about character relationships than sex. Right from the get-go we see Hannah open herself up more. The two key individuals who get to know the real Hannah are Bambi and Alex. The former is completely inexperienced and must deal with some strange individuals. Belle can spot their dangerous personalities a mile away, and she's more than happy to take Bambi under her wing. In turn, Bambi learns from Belle not just how to handle clients, but how Belle really feels about the work.

As for Alex, he's an alarmingly normal guy in whom Hannah sees potential. She boldly begins a relationship with him while still working, a risky move to be sure. While it's certainly predictable he will find out what she does (in the season's most memorable scene, no less), it's how both deal with the situation after the fact that makes Season Two so rewarding.

Thankfully, Season Two abandons the endless scenes of heavy breathing in Season One. We get to actually know Hannah herself, allowing us to see her as a human being. She becomes three-dimensional, emotionally conflicted in virtually every moment she's with either Alex or Bambi. Much of this positive turnaround can be attributed to Piper's bravura turn as Hannah. Sexy, funny, and strikingly committed, she alone makes Season Two worth watching.

Another asset of Season Two is the polished presentation. The first season suffered from heavy uses of light and flat color schemes. Lionsgate rectifies this flaw with a much more pleasing visual style here. Shadows are more frequent, colors are much brighter, and the flesh tones are exquisite in the 1.78:1 anamorphic picture. Very little grain or scratches are present. Audio is also perfectly serviceable. The 5.1 Surround tracks capture all the sights and sounds of downtown London. The music comes through just fine, and dialogue is easily heard. Still, viewers who are intimidated by the British slang can easily turn on the English subtitles or closed captioning.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

The conclusion to Season Two wasn't entirely satisfying. It suggests exciting new adventures in Hannah's future, but I feel there was also some missed opportunities. The relationships weren't consummated in exactly naturalistic fashion, and Hannah's new outlook on life is a bit too hard to swallow. These are nitpicks, but they generate light frustration all the same.

The extras leave much to be desired as well. Lionsgate does include more bonus items than Season One, but they all come off as heavy-handed. A short interview ("Billie On Belle") with Piper falls flat, as the actress has very little to say. Still, it's a gem compared to the string of ten "webisodes" provided on the second disc. Only one word came to my mind while watching them: pointless.

Closing Statement

Rarely have I been glad to revisit a show that was a colossal disappointment the first time around. Despite a somewhat disjointed conclusion, Secret Diary Of A Call Girl: Season Two is sparkling entertainment that gets a recommendation.

The Verdict

Hannah and her alter ego are free to go, and the second season is found not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 92
Extras: 75
Acting: 90
Story: 85
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• English (CC)
• Spanish
Running Time: 176 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Drama
• Romantic Comedies
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Interview
• Webisodes

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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