Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season Two review, Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season Two DVD review
Starring
Billie Piper, Iddo Goldberg, Ashley Madekwe, Callum Blue, Cherie Lunghi
Director
Various
Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season Two

Reviewed by Ross Ruediger

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A

t the close of the first season of “Secret Diary,” the show looked as if it was set to deliver a far superior second season. While Season Two is an improvement on the first, the bad news is that the upgrade in no way rocks the foundations of the series. Season Two’s dramatic arc is nearly identical to what it’s already given us. It does lead to a considerably different outcome, yet one can’t shake the feeling that this is mostly a case of “been there, done that.” If the show can’t scale some risky heights in its sophomore outing, it probably never will. The good news is that it is much funnier when it needs to be, and much more dramatic when it’s required. Clearly this is never going to be a “great” show, yet it remains, at the very least, an entertaining one – as long you embrace the seedy, duplicitous adventures of a London whore.

Season One saw the unveiling of Belle the call girl/Hannah the person (Billie Piper), and explored the relationship with her best friend/ex-boyfriend Ben (Iddo Goldberg), and what happened when she let him into her world. Season Two sees Belle/Hannah falling for a new guy, Dr. Alex (Callum Blue, cue obscure “Orb” joke here). Of course, the hook is that she hides her profession from him for the first half of the season. (Sound familiar to you “Diary” vets?) Alex discovers Hannah’s secret life in Episode Five, and the series must be given kudos for finding an engaging, melodramatic way for this to unfold. Yet it does it in such a way that you’re forced to side with Hannah. Manipulative or smart? You’ll have to decide, as I’m on the fence.

Afterwards, there’s a push and pull between Hannah and Alex, with Ben taking notes as an outsider. Ben’s not nearly as much of a factor here, as it seemed he might be at the close of the first season. Will Hannah find a way to make it work with Dr. Alex? Given the Doctor’s distaste for what she does for a living, it’s not a huge spoiler to say it doesn’t work out. Besides, if it did, there’d be no reason for the show to continue. (And yet, after two seasons of Hannah chasing two men, would not the bravest move be to find a way for someone to just accept her as she is?)  Season Two is all about facing the inevitable, even if the heart desires just a little bit more. The final episode of the season is outstanding, and amidst delivering some fine drama, it also sets up the book the series is based on.

All that said, Billie Piper deserves much better than this, and she has such a gripping screen presence that surely she’s the only thing keeping this show on the air. One of the big problems I have with “Diary” is that it’s a drama masquerading as a comedy. Once the opening and end credits are removed, there’s only about 20 minutes worth of story for each episode – not really enough time to go somewhere that makes a difference. Sure, the show attempts to make some points, but really it’s nothing that will matter to anyone other than the random call girl who happens to watch the series. The man or woman on the street will always be left with the “she reaps what she sows” vibe, which is a shame, because there may actually be something worth exploring within this concept. If it were an hour-long show, there might be something with which to work. However, my opinions of what this show could be really shouldn’t reflect on what it is, and that’s the entertaining and sometimes frustrating story of a hooker. I mean, really, if people dug on “Pretty Woman,” what is ultimately wrong with the story being told here?

Billie was pregnant during the making of this season. She looks radiant throughout, make no mistake, and even in the latter episodes when she appears somewhat voluptuous she’s a knockout. But those looking for some Piper skin will be disappointed as there are a ridiculous amount of ham-fistedly edited scenes featuring body doubles. Plenty of tit and ass – but it ain’t Piper. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if they’d simply omitted the skin altogether, as I don’t watch this show to catch glimpses of Piper in the buff. Finally, the season introduces a new call girl – Bambi, played by Ashley Madekwe, who’ll be brightening TV screens here in the U.S. shortly in “The Beautiful Life” on the CW. Just thought you’d like to know.

Special Features: There’s an interview with Piper called “Billie on Belle,” that pretty much goes to show there isn’t a whole lot to say about this show outside of what it says about itself (and therefore I’m not really sure any commentary tracks would be particularly enlightening). There are also 10 webisodes (ranging from 90 seconds to three minutes) starring Ashley Madekwe and Iddo Goldberg. Harmless, throwaway fluff, although one of them, which features Ben getting shitfaced via mixing a bunch of different poisons, is both hugely amusing and disturbing at the same time.

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