Season 4, episode 6
Aired: July 31, 2009 on BBC1
Hotel Babylon is in trouble. Thanks to an accounting error, the hotel now owes £200,000 in taxes. Sam thought he’d fixed the problem when he snagged a “royal wedding” for the hotel – a wedding between a member of Britain’s 24th wealthiest family and a minor princess from Liechtenstein’s royal family. As always, though, things don’t go according to plan: the groom was spotted cavorting with another woman, so now the wedding’s off… and the £250,000 that Sam was charging an Italian gossip magazine for the wedding pictures falls through… or does it? Sam has an idea. Since Gennaro Fazio, the Italian magazine’s owner, doesn’t know what the couple looks like, the hotel will have a fake wedding, thus bringing in the much needed £250,000.
Meanwhile, Tony spies a lonely teenage guest, Jo (Kelly Osborne) and tries to play “friend matchmaker” with equally lonely Mandy (Eleanor Gecks). Mandy is a competitive swimmer, and is staying at the Babylon to film a commercial, for which she thinks she’s getting paid £60,000. Her overbearing parents seem to be enjoying the good life – ordering expensive wines and high-end dinners, having expensive designer shoes brought to the hotel – while Mandy is forced to work and train almost non-stop. After Mandy’s mother, Alexis (Annabelle Apsion) rubs Tony the wrong way, he tells Jo how much money Mandy is really getting paid to film the commercial – £300,000! Jo, of course, tells Mandy, who retaliates by inviting her grandmother to take charge of her finances.
While all this is going on, James is livid. The hotel apparently participates in some kind of government work training program, and a new trainee is due in that day. But instead of the “troubled teen” he was expecting, the trainee is an old man, Ken, who can’t seem to do anything right. He drops plates, he talks excessively to customers, and even sits down at the table with them. James flips when Ken appears to start a fire in the kitchen and accidentally (and repeatedly) sprays James with a fire extinguisher. James softens his tone when he finds out that a younger member of staff had actually caused the fire, and Ken volunteered to “take the rap” for it. James also finds out that food critic Tristrum Calder (John Savident) really enjoys Ken’s company. James then looks at Ken in a new light and offers him a part-time position in the hotel. But come to find out, Ken was a train repairman for fifty years, and he enjoys working in all kinds of new places. Oh, and he’s never left the country, and all the stories of his overseas exploits that made people love him so much… were all made up!
The “fake wedding” plan hits a few wrinkles along the way. First, the fake couple – Ben and Emily – are asked to take some candid pictures in one of the Babylon’s rooms. In doing so, Ben and Emily are required to kiss. The kiss stirs Ben (the show’s token gay character) into thinking that he might not be gay. Secondly, Gennaro announces that an Italian count (who knows the bride) is coming. At first, the hotel staff claim a mix-up and send him away. But just as the fake wedding is about to start – complete with Geno as the step-father of the bride, James as the best man, Tony as the minister, and tons of Tanya’s friends as guests – the Count shows up again with Gennaro. Fortunately, the Count appears to be senile, and he claims that the bewigged Emily “hasn’t changed a bit”!
Unfortunately, the wedding doesn’t work out. Gennaro spots someone wearing inappropriate shoes, then spies a tag from the costume shop on Emily’s dress. He stands up and threatens to sue the hotel. But Sam and Juliet have an ace up their sleeve. Gennaro had shown Juliet some pictures of a celebrity in rehab the night before, and Sam and Juliet were able to suss out that Gennaro was bribing the celebrity to keep the pictures from appearing in his magazine. They use that knowledge as leverage to keep Gennaro quiet. As for the tax bill, Sam says that word of the royal wedding has convinced two minor celebrities to book weddings there, too. So maybe there’s hope for Hotel Babylon after all.
There might be hope for Hotel Babylon (the fictitious hotel), but there’s little hope left for Hotel Babylon (the show). This was the stupidest episode of the show, by far. It beggars belief that Sam, no matter the hotel’s financial situation, would not only try to con a magazine out of £250,000, but that he’d get all of the staff to go along with him. They might do things differently in Britain than in the US, but there’s no way that a business that owes that kind of money couldn’t get some sort of extension or payment plan. There’s no hotel in the US where the IRS would simply show up and say “you owe us $500,000 – we’re taking the business”.
It was also too much to swallow that Gennaro would have no idea what the bride and groom looked like. There’s this thing called “the Internet” see, and you can find pictures of just about any celebrity on the planet there. If the “happy couple” were important enough for an Italian magazine to pay around $420,000 for their wedding pictures, then you should be able to find pictures of them online.
And, in case anyone hadn’t noticed… Ben is black. I’m sure the list of Britain’s wealthiest families includes some black families… but why would Sam and Juliet immediately think of Ben and not James or Tony when it was time to cast the groom? Admit it – if you think of “Britain’s 24th wealthiest family” you think of white people, don’t you? And not some nice (but swishy) black guy.
It’s established early in the episode that Sam allowed the “royal couple” to have the wedding at the hotel for free, in exchange for the rights to the photographs. But preparing for a wedding isn’t free, right? The hotel had to prepare a ballroom for the wedding, order a bunch of food and drink, hire extra staff, etc. Why wouldn’t Babylon’s lawyers insist on some kind of “refundable deposit” in case the wedding fell through? I wouldn’t think it’d be too much to ask the potential bride and groom for, say, £50,000 up front to pay for all the prep work. I know, I know… £50,000 wouldn’t have paid the tax bill either… but at least it would have given them enough to not lose money on the event, and it would have helped with the tax bill a little bit.
And who half-asses a royal wedding? No one on Babylon’s “five-star” staff spotted that guy’s shoes, or the other “guest’s” radio? Or the giant tag on Emily’s dress? Please.
Is it just me, or is Tony now given a “problem of the week” to solve? Maybe his character has always been like that and I’ve just never noticed. But it seems as if this entire season he’s been given some problem every week, usually one in which he would come out better by doing the “wrong thing”, yet he ends up doing the “right thing” every time. It’s not that it’s unrealistic (even though it is), it’s that one gets weary of seeing it every week. As soon as I saw Mandy’s jerk-ass parents, I knew Tony would have to do something to “fix” it.
There was a lot of unexpected hawtness this week: I hate the Emily character, and I don’t think that Alexandra Moen is attractive at all. But seeing her in that lingerie was kind of hot. She has a nice bottom… who knew? Also Eleanor Gecks is cute as all get out, isn’t she? I’m putting her on the “Hottie in Training” list! And even Kelly Osborne looked pretty good in this episode… which was surprising to say the least.
Thank God there are only two more episodes of this show. Sadly, given the show’s ratings, it might return next year… but this show was past its “sell by” date at the end of last season.