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DVD Review: ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’ Season 1
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By ScarletScribe

Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Season 1
Starring Billie Piper, Iddo Goldberg
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 6, 2009

If you’re a dedicated geek with a penchant for overseas sci-fi, then you’re more than familiar with Billie Piper, the one-time U.K. pop singer who co-starred in the BBC’s relaunching of Doctor Who. If that’s the case, do away with your image of Piper as a flirty, adventurous companion to the Doctor and get ready for Piper as a flirty, adventurous, companion to anyone who can afford her.

As the lead in Showtime’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Piper plays Hannah, your average well-to-do London girl whose nights working as a “legal secretary” conceal a seedier truth: she’s a high-class, high-priced hooker named Belle. But that’s not much of a secret considering the title. In fact, the eight short episodes (about 23 minutes each) that comprise this first season collection are less about secrets than they are stand-alone sex stories centered around Hannah’s less-than-shocking confessions. Each of the episodes is fairly formulaic: Hannah talks to friend Ben on the phone, Hannah has a client situation that’s outside the norm, Hannah realizes why things are hard for her, Hannah has sex, Ben and Hannah argue and/or make-up, and Hannah puts something in her mouth (at some point).

So if you’re looking forward to a tawdry, documentary-style look at the life of a London sex worker, this is not it (unless you think that Hannah’s confession that she uses lubricant and male prostitutes use Viagra is ground-breaking). Secret Diary of a Call Girl is a light, fluffy sex comedy-drama that’s enjoyable to watch and much easier to swallow than alternatives like Sex and the City. It never takes itself too seriously and the relationship drama that occurs between Hannah and Ben adds a needed, but not distracting, center to the series.

Unfortunately, while the focus is on Hannah and how she juggles being a call girl with her normal life, it never felt like that was the driving force behind it. The episodes could be viewed in any order and still make sense — though some character development would be lost – and I never felt really invested in Hannah’s story. What did keep me watching, though, were the generous doses of humor, Piper’s delightfully coy acting — and the sex scenes.

Ah, you thought I’d never get around to that, right?

Secret Diary of a Call Girl stays true to its soft core porn predecessors with soft lighting and clever camera cuts but adds enough variety that things never get dull. As pointed out before, Hannah’s clients throughout the series don’t always ask for the usual, which means we get scenes of her riding a client with a saddle, attending an invite-only orgy, dallying with S&M, and taking part in a foursome with Ben. Depending on the scenario, these scenes can range from sexy to funny, but they’re always apart of the plot and Hannah always comes away with a lesson (such as not trying to have a quickie with a cyclist whose stamina exceeds your time limit).

It’s a series that’s well worth a watch, especially as the second season just began airing on Showtime last month. While the extras are scant on the DVD (translation: none), it’s worth a buy as the episodes stand up to repeated viewings.

And come on people, it’s Billie Piper (and Matt Smith, future 11th Doctor, in episode six).

1 Comment »

  1. Billy Piper did a good job in the 1st season which trailed off a bit in season 2, as she filmed while pregnant. It seems to lack a bit of daring that the 1st season had.

    Comment by DM Osbon — February 18, 2009 @ 6:21 am

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