Hotel Babylon (Series Review)

I don’t see a major plotline season-to-season with this show, so I’m just bundling all 4 seasons together, though I don’t see any reason to watch past season 3, it goes downhill big time.

Plot: 2/5
This is a difficult series to describe. We’ll start with the Netflix description and see if any expansion is necessary.
At the posh Hotel Babylon, manager Rebecca Mitchell (Tamzin Outhwaite) and her staff cater to the whims of their rich and famous guests, regardless of their less-than-stellar behavior.

That’s definitely off. The show isn’t about manager Rebecca. The series is (through season 3) led by Charlie, the assistant manager of the Hotel. Basically Hotel Babylon is about the staff of the hotel. The 5 key players are Charlie, Anna (head receptionist), the concierge, the head of housekeeping, and the bartender.  There are some other characters who you see in most of the episodes, but these 5 drive the storyline, especially through seasons 1 and 2.

Generally the show is about these 5 people and how they react with the guests at the Hotel Babylon, a luxury 5-star hotel. It has an overarching narration that teaches something about hotels or describes them in some way, think Scrubs and you’ve got it. Except these aren’t doctors. They follow 1-2 guests an episode, their specific needs, and how the hotel works to fill those needs.

 

Tony, the Concierge

Execution: 5/5
I included this separate section because the plot description isn’t very thrilling. I’m not sure where exactly it comes from, but the show is actually quite addicting. It’s a good way to kill some time. I personally suffer from near chronic insomnia, and this show is something to watch and wile away the hours (Hell, I’m watching it again while writing this, Season 1, Epsiode 2 is kind of~~~). It was never a show that was going to last for a long time, but it’s still nice to watch.

 

The show looks at the glamor of a 5-star hotel, but you also see the areas only staff works. I’m not deluded into thinking this is really how it works backstage, but there’s dirt on the floors, the walls are chipped and scuffed, and the cafeteria looks like somewhere you would find a cockroach in your food. It’s an interesting contrast visually. I also like how you see the the way the staff handles customers vs how they speak normally to one another.

 

Series 3 cast

Acting: 4/5
The acting is, for the most part, pretty good. My main complaint is against Anna and Rebecca. Rebecca seems a little overdone. Her moods swing pretty fast, but that might just be a minor flaw in the writing. Anna’s voice is a little too high, and she seems way too flippant. Between seasons she goes through a massive personality change, hence the dip in points there as well.

 

In the series my favorite is Dexter Fletcher (the concierge Tony). He’s funny to watch and seems to be firmly comfortable in his role.

Directing: 5/5
This director goes for the invisible approach: most of the time you don’t notice the cuts. I’m not sure if there is one director for the series, or multiple directors (some shows have directors handle 1-2 episodes a season), but it feels pretty consistent and balanced well.

Other Things

 

Series 2 Cast

Like I said, after Season 3 it goes downhill fast. The writing gets bad, the acting quality shoots through the floor in response, and even the best director in the world wouldn’t be able to handle it. I myself stopped watching 5 episodes in. I won’t tell you the major change in that last season, it would be a plot spoiler, but you can give season 4 a shot yourself and see how it goes. Season 4 kind of stands out on it’s own anyways, the end of Season 3 could have been a series finale with no problems.

 

There isn’t much to say on this show. For how much it tries to built up it’s image episode by episode there isn’t anything memorable. I started watching it again on a whim. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good show, but it’s more of an enjoyable way to kill time than it is outright entertaining. Though, if you’ve worked in the hotel business you might get more of a kick out of it, like how IT people enjoy “The IT Crowd”.

 

Who I blame for Series 4

It may seem like it at first glance, but there isn’t much sex or nudity in this show as you’d think. There are a lot of lead-in sex scenes or lead-out (you see them pulling their jackets back on or falling onto the bed), but nothing as strong as you see on Showtime or late-night HBO. As far as Age-Range goes I’d say… 15+ or maybe 16+, though there is no specific age range that I can think of who would enjoy the show regularly. That’s what is hard about time-kill shows. They don’t have a specific genre. I was 19 when I first watched it and I enjoyed it alright.

 

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  1. #1 by Dan. on July 25, 2011 - 10:02 am

    I agree, half way through season 3 it just seemed to change entirely, everyones acting seemed forced and silly, the plots were stupid and the scripts seemed cheap and corny.

    It’s my bet they lost funding or key writers and so the leads started leaving and the rest of the actors crumbled.

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