Howdy people of the internet, hope you have a good New Year’s adventure. Today is my first post of 2015 and so I thought why not give you a TV review and today’s show is one I’ve been meaning to review for AGES. I am of course talking about Hotel Babylon. It’s not even a joke how long I have been meaning to do this review, we’re talking like back in January/February 2013 and then I was meant to have the review done by this time last year. However, now the time has come, after re-watching this first season for the third time, I think it’s about time I got around to giving you my thoughts on one of my favourite TV shows from the late 2000’s. So let’s start by talking about season 1.
So what is the show about? Well, Hotel Babylon is a fabulous five-star hotel in the heart of London, it is a fairly expensive establishment, however, if you have the money to afford a visit you will find your stay very comfortable in a lavish, beautiful and well-organized hotel where you can have anything you want, for the right price. This show introduces you to the world of how a hotel works and shows you the stories from not only the perspective of the staff but of the guests as well.
Story-wise the show primarily focuses on the lives of the hotel staff, however an equal amount of time is given to the guests of the hotel. The stories in this show are mainly episodic, however there are arching storylines over the course of the 8-episode season. Each episode features one or more storylines to do with the staff and/or guests of the hotel and sometimes they crossover into each other which is also interesting.
I think the stories in the show are very fun, dramatic and relatable. I think what separates this show from other British dramas is the setting and the stories that get told. I mean we’ve all been to a hotel once in our lives right? However there are not many TV shows that have depicted what goes on behind the scenes and given you such a stylish, complex and interesting look at how things operate. The show is handled with a great deal of care as the directing is well-done and the writing is great with a lot of good stories and dialogue. What also makes this show work is the individual stories, whether it is the guests who are rock stars, adulterers, millionaires, hotel inspectors or have weird habits or feel suicidal tendencies, there is a variety of people who come in and it’s just fascinating to see their stories unfold and see how they will get wrapped up in a 1-hour episode. It also helps that the stories involving the staff is great too, since they are the people trying to give the guests a pleasant stay its interesting to see them interact with not only the guests but their other colleagues whether they are bonding, competing, at each other’s throats or having an individual episode dedicated to themselves it is great to watch them grow and develop. If I have any complaints I would say that some of the stories in the episodes can be a bit dull and some of the scenarios can get a bit over-the-top and ruin the realism side of things, but otherwise it is fine.
When it comes to the cast they are amazing and it is their wonderful performances that hold everything together. What I like about these characters is that most of them don’t get an introductory episode, from the first episode we are shown these characters and just get on with things. However as time goes on we get to learn about them, see them develop and start to get attached and that is thanks not only to great writing, but also the performances and since everyone has such good chemistry, you buy the fact that these people care for each other and have a family dynamic.
Let’s start with Max Beesley as Charlie Edwards. Now this is primarily Charlie’s show. He narrates each episode and good few of the episodes have a focus on him. He is the deputy manager and former head receptionist, the man is attentive, handsome, determined and knows how to get things done. That being said he can be secretive, a bit ambitious and naive and because of his past it puts him in an awkward position when the law gets involved. Beesley does very well in this role, he’s likeable, cool and every time he’s on-screen I feel a sense of ease and happiness each time. Tamzin Outhwaite is the next big character as Rebecca Mitchell, the general manager. Rebecca is a smart, strict, efficient and beautiful woman who likes to run a tight ship, loves success and hates excuses. However even though she is a good manager, she has a messed up personal life which she keeps secret from her staff and it is her shortcomings that make her human and Outhwaite is great in this role. Emma Pierson as Anna Thornton-Wilton, that woman is great. Anna is a gorgeous, yet snobby, self-centered and high maintenance kind of woman, she enjoys gorgeous men, money and expensive items. She’s good at her job as head receptionist, however she is a bit lazy and doesn’t always do what she’s told.
Oh and Natalie Mendoza is fabulous as Jackie Clunes. Jackie is the head of housekeeping, she’s kind, perceptive and cares a lot for her housekeeping staff, oh and she is one sexy seductress. Ms. Mendoza acts very well and she is also one of the most gorgeous women ever and it is hard to keep your eyes away from her (sorry but it has to be mentioned). Dexter Fletcher is awesome as Tony Casemore. Tony is the head concierge, he is the man who can get anyone anything because he super smart and aware of people’s needs. Fletcher has a great screen presence and adds a lot of fun, charm and humour to his scenes. Martin Marquez is fun as Gino Primirola, this guy is the head barman, he’s of Italian/Spanish descent, knows how to make good drinks and is the source of most of the comic relief with humourous lines and funny situations. Ray Coulthard is nice as James Schofield who is the food and beverage manager. James is the posh one of the group, he’s a perfectionist, but he is also a bit of a snob and his bickering with Gino while sometimes humourous, can also be annoying. And Michael Obiora is good as Ben Trueman, he’s a receptionist, he’s gay and quite camp but that’s part of his charm and its fun to see him paired up with Anna because that’s when he shines. Oh and shout out to Anthony Stewart Head who played Mr Machin, I did not even notice him the first few times but after watching so much Buffy recently I noticed him instantly and got so happy! 😀
As for the presentation it is great. Visually the show is shot very well, it makes the city of London look very beautiful during the day and at night. The cinematography is nice and the scene transitions are swift and keep the pace going. And then there’s the music, my god I love the music. The soundtrack composed by Jim Williams and John Lunn is so lovely, it can be chilled out and slow or upbeat and good to dance to. The music is primarily jazz-inspired and while there are other genres sprinkled in, it does seem like jazz is the main genre and together is the vocals of the woman/women some of the individual tracks is just awesome and adds to the cool and sexy vibe of the show. I still think this show has one of the best intros to any TV show ever and that is definitely due to the music which is just ear-melting.
In conclusion the first season of Hotel Babylon paints an interesting picture. With a great deal of varied stories, along with a great cast of characters and beautiful presentation especially in the audio department, Hotel Babylon is truly one of the most intriguing and engaging shows I’ve encountered from the BBC in a long time.
Rating: 9/10 (Some of the slickest, sexiest and coolest TV I’ve ever seen)
So have you ever seen Hotel Babylon and if so what did you think of it? Whatever your thoughts are drop them in the comments below and I’ll see ya next time for the review of season 2! 😀