Hotel Babylon (Series 3, Episode 6)

I have finally come to the realization that Hotel Babylon is a guilty pleasure, and, as such, is no better than Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place. In many ways, it’s actually worse than those shows: you’d think the writers would have learned from 90210 and Melrose’s mistakes. But no, they haven’t. You can actually see it with your own eyes as Hotel Babylon slides ever closer to jumping the shark. What was once a clever show based on a titillating tell-all book about the real-life “behind the scenes” world of a luxury London hotel is now nothing more than Gossip Girl, really. But that’s OK, because, in true BBC fashion, the show is put together really well. It’s a good show… it’s just not what it once was.

Here’s a summary of the episode, ganked directly from the BBC website:

Jack has just been promoted to General Manager, and this year’s big ‘rom com’ is being filmed in Babylon by a very emotional director (John Barrowman). Problems arise as leaks to the press, a lack of on-screen chemistry between Katy (Megan Dodds) and Tom (James Lance) and a gaffe by Jack all threaten the film, and ultimately Babylon’s profits. It’s up to Jack to save the day, but will he succeed?

Anna is having a dilemma. Ned has just invited her for a weekend away in New York, but she can’t get Charlie out of her head. Finding it hard to know what to do she confides in Rachel (Donna Air), an enigmatic young woman who seems to have it all. But Rachel has her own secrets and reasons for living the high life, and Anna resorts to bring Rachel the happiness she deserves, and also to make amends with Ned.

So – how was the first “Charlie-free episode”? Not as bad as I feared, but not as good as I hoped. The storyline – a movie filming at the Babylon – was just plain silly… especially with hotel staff just standing around the set. Anna’s storyline is the only one worth mentioning: she’s having all sorts of issues with the whole “Charlie vs. Ned” thing when she becomes friendly with a mysterious guest named Rachel. Come to find out, Rachel is dying of pancreatic cancer. She’s just broken up with her boyfriend to spare him the pain of her death, and Anna wants him to at least know about Rachel. Maybe he’ll want to run away from Rachel. Maybe he’ll stay with her until her last breath. But it should be his choice, right? Anna sets up a scam where she calls the boyfriend and says that he’s won a free stay at the hotel. When he shows up, Anna escorts him to Rachel’s room… where the two of them immediately start arguing. Once Anna breaks down and tells him that Rachel is dying, it’s all tears:

Hotel Babylon (S3, E6 - 01)

It was really sweet. Seriously.

However, Gino and Ben were unbearably annoying in this episode. They want a part in the film, right? So they harass the film’s director without mercy, with Gino doing horrible impressions of movie stars from 50 years ago and Ben turning the “queen factor” to HIGH. I wanted to punch them through the TV screen.

Jack continues to impress, however. I don’t like the guy – especially with his “alcohol ban” in this episode – but it’s nice to see that he can pull a rabbit out of his hat when he needs to. He’s actually pretty sneaky, which I like. But he ain’t Charlie, which I don’t like.

Word on the Intarweb is that Tony (Dexter Fletcher) is leaving the show (the previews for next week showed him getting fired, but you know how previews can trick you). I honestly don’t know if I can watch the show without ol’ Dexter. I’ve liked the guy since I first saw him in The Rachel Papers, and the departure of Fletcher would\will be a huge loss for the show.

“Say it ain’t so, Joe!”


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