Appellate Judge Tom Becker once went to the secret dairy of a call girl; best butter and eggs for miles!
Belle? Or Hannah?
I went into Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Final Season with a disadvantage, and it wasn't a maxed-out Amex. I'd never seen a single episode leading up to the "Final Season." In fact, if not for DVD Verdict's reviews of Seasons One and Two, I would never have heard of this British series that airs on Showtime.
A little check-up showed me that Secret Diary of a Call Girl's final season was its fourth; like the previous seasons, the fourth and last consisted of eight episodes running about 23 minutes each. This means the entire series ran 32 episodes, which is just a few episodes more than a single season of most U.S. sitcoms.
I thought it might be tough to tell a compelling story in such a short amount of time, but Secret Diary of a Call Girl really doesn't have much of a story to tell. It's not a bad show, just trifling.
Our call girl is Belle (Billie Piper, Doctor Who), as in "Belle de Jour," though her non-call girl friends call her Hannah. Belle is a wildly successful professional who has published a book about her experiences (anonymously, of course), and this season, there's talk of a film being made based on her book.
But Belle has more pressing concerns. Her best friend, Ben (Iddo Goldberg, The Tourist), has become her live-in lover, and while he seems OK with profession, there's still tension. Belle's boss, escort service Madame Stephanie (Cherie Lunghi, EastEnders), has gone to jail for money laundering and left Belle in charge of the business—and more challengingly, in charge of her 19-year-old daughter, Poppy (Lily James). Poppy doesn't know the truth about Mum's business, which means Belle has to do a bit of juggling while also dealing with the other "girls," including dominatrix Charlotte (Gemma Chan), who sees Belle as a rival.
And, of course, there are the men, the clients who call on Belle to satisfy all sorts of whims and desires.
Since Belle is a call girl, the show offers up plenty of sex and sex talk. While it's all reasonably entertaining, the sex-worker aspect is the hook, and by and large, the reason for the show's existence. It's pretty much what you'd expect: risqué but not tasteless, with bits of nudity here and there and clients who are clean, affable, and not hideous to look at with their clothes off. The various sex sessions are played off as jokey interludes; most of the clients' requests—being treated like a baby, wrestling, a male "virgin" with a secret—are mined for comedy in a fairly simple and straightforward ways, and rather than being shocking, it ends up vaguely reminiscent of The Lucy Show (or was it Here's Lucy?), wherein Lucille Ball's Lucy character took on various temp jobs that had her babysitting chimps and such.
It's all fairly breezy and an OK way to pass half an hour, but if an actual session with Belle were this uneventful, I'd probably ask for a refund. The "serious stuff" didn't make much of an impression; I suspect that even if I'd watched all 32 episodes, I doubt that I would have been invested enough in the characters to be but so concerned as to how they ended up.
The whole season is on a single DVD. The shows look and sound fine. Supplements are limited to on-screen text cast bios, a photo gallery, and a blooper reel at the end of the final episode.
Just as a side note: Apparently, whoever has the rights to Season Three has not yet released it on DVD, meaning the series is being released out of order. I don't know why this is, and certainly, if like me, you're not a Showtime subscriber and catch their series on home video, it will probably be a little frustrating to watch the final season prior to the penultimate.
Not as shocking as it seems to think it is, nor as engrossing as it should be, Secret Diary of a Call Girl is amusing enough, just not especially meaty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Showtime Entertainment
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