Howdy people of the internet, time for another TV review and today after a long break I am returning to Hotel Babylon with my review of season 3! Now I loved season 1 and season 2 was just as good if not better, now I am returning to the third season for the first time in 7 years! And I’m curious to see if my thoughts have changed or remained the same. So how does this season fare? Well read on and find out.
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.
The show’s premise primarily focuses on the lives of the hotel staff, however an equal amount of time is given to the guests of the hotel as well. The stories are mainly episodic, however there are arching storylines over the course of the 8-episode season and there are also some ties to the previous two seasons. Each episode features one or more storylines to do with the staff and/or guests of the hotel and sometimes they crossover too.
Story-wise with season 3, you get a feeling of familiarity with the characters, setting and plot format, but also because of the passing of time and new situations presented with the guests and hotel staff. Some of the strong themes of season 3 are love and relationships, change, trust and loyalty. The show doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to issues relating to fashion and child labour, deceit within the hotel staff, a guest dying of cancer, prostitution, and a man struggling with weight loss. HB is still sleek, sexy and dramatic, and not only presents the characters and audience with ethical and moral dilemmas, but it’s also incredibly fun, humourous and engaging…
That being said, one of the issues I have with storylines in season 3 is that they don’t seem as well thought out as before and some of the new scenarios feel a little haphazard just for the sake of change rather than feeling like a natural progression of the series. It’s hard to describe without giving you an example, but you can tell that there’s a dip in quality as this season goes on and while it still has its moments the show doesn’t feel as compelling and fun as it was before. There is a moment where the show peeks at episode 5 and it is at that point where you see the talent of the writers at work as they are able to create some really tension-filled, dramatic and heart-breaking material for you to watch. It is awesome and yet so sad at the same time… Unfortunately it is that point the season takes a huge loss and it never seems to recover from it and those who have seen the show will know exactly what I mean. Another aspect not as strong as before was the season finale, while the last two were brilliant, this one felt a little over-the-top, crowded and not as satisfying as it could have been, and I think it was primarily due to the impact of episode 5 which was much stronger.
When it comes to the cast they are all pretty good, the returning cast do a good job while the new additions add to the show in an interesting way. So start with Max Beesley who was solid as Charlie Edwards. I wasn’t keen on the way Charlie was handled, he’s more Rebecca (the former manager) than himself and while that comes with the job title, I feel like he lost a little charm and humanity. This season focuses a lot at first on Charlie taking on the role as general manager and changing up his attitude towards his coworkers/friends as he starts making choices that aren’t ethical or moral for the sake of business over the more humane decisions he used to make. That being said when push comes to shove Charlie comes through. Dexter Fletcher is still good as Tony Casemore. As head concierge and most senior form of staff he knows his coworkers and the hotel pretty well, but also has to get with times and change things up, he had plenty of moments to standout whether it was because of personal issues or aspects that related to his coworkers/friends. Emma Pierson once again does well as Anna Thornton-Wilton, while her character traits are familiar, she has a lot more dramatic moments and time is dedicated to her relationship material as well.
Natalie Mendoza comes back and does well as Jackie Clunes. Here she’s just as sassy, fun and gorgeous as ever, but she doesn’t have as big of a presence as before. Martin Marquez is good as Gino Primirola and this season we get more dramatic moments for him which was welcome. Ray Coulthard again does well as James Schofield and has some time to shine with scenarios relating to his restaurant and wine collection, and while there’s no proper development for his character he is still fun to watch. Michael Obiora is good as Ben Trueman, but he’s not nearly as noticeable as his coworkers. New members to the main staff include Emily James played by Alexandra Moen and Jack Harrison played by Lee Williams. When it comes to Emily at first she’s quite annoying and mischievous, and doesn’t really fit into the main staff’s dynamic, however she eventually started to show loyalty and humour that made her more relatable and likeable, and Moen does well in her role. And when it comes to Jack he comes in as a bit of a know-it-all, has no sense of flexibility and totally lacks the human touch at first, but eventually he becomes a tolerable character. And finally there are some great appearances from Jon Culshaw, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Paula Abdul and John Barrowman (who was looking very much like Tom Cruise for some reason).
When it comes to the presentation it is still very nice. Visually the show still has good cinematography and camera work used throughout the hotel and across London too. The soundtrack by Jim Williams and John Lunn is once again one of the best aspects of the show, however the music wasn’t as strong as before and had less of a jazz focus which was a real shame for me.
In conclusion by the time season 3 of Hotel Babylon is over you feel like there’s certainly been bumps in the road, but overall it is still pretty good. There is still a lot of heart and fun to this show, it is just unfortunate that it lost some key characters and had lacklustre stories. I’d like to say that things get better in season 4, but alas that’s not true.
Rating: 7/10 (Good, but a substantial step down from previous seasons)
So have you 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 4. 😀