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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Hotel Babylon - Season 1'
(Tarnzin Outhwaite, Max Beesley, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / BBC Home Video)

Overview: Hotel Babylon introduces the tantalizing and seductive world of the luxury 5-star hotel a place where money not only talks but can buy you just about anything you desire... Tarnzin Outhwaite and Max Beesley star with guests Joan Collins and Anthony Stewart Head.

DVD Verdict: 'Hotel Babylon' has to be one of the most incorrectly-advertised TV shows I've seen. When airing on BBC America this past summer, it appeared to be some glamorized soap opera with sexy women...and was premiering episodes on 'Wicked Wednesdays'. What these commercials forgot to tell viewers was that 'Hotel Babylon' was actually a breezy, fast-paced, funny, and surprisingly truthful look at a 5-star London hotel's happenings.

Each of the 8 episodes begins and ends with narration by Charlie (Max Beesley), the Deputy Manager of the hotel. Think Augutus Hill from "Oz", or the quotes from "The Wire", and you get the idea of how Charlie's philosophical monologues on the hotel business cleverly bookend each episode. Other characters include: Rebecca (Tamzin Outwaithe) - the workaholic hotel manager Tony (Dexter Fletcher from "Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels") - a top-of-the-line concierge who's mostly the moral center of the show Anna (Emma Pearson) - the superficial front desk agent you can't help but put up with.

Oh and there are many other hotel faces that you'll learn along the way. But what separates 'Hotel Babylon' from other tongue-in-cheek comedy-dramas is that although the stories in this show are exaggerated, they all carry a dose of reality. Should there be strange noises and electrical failures during the midnight shift? Probably not, but any hotel employee knows that midnight shifts are as weird as they get. Would rebellious staff members assemble a mock wedding at a guest's request? Highly unlikely, but I've been asked by a guest for stranger favors. Would hotel staff and guests have fraternize, flirt, and have private get-togethers? Well...yeah, I've seen that happen.

Shows like "Desperate Housewives" are so self-mocking that you can't take it seriously, and eventually stop caring altogether. Not so with "Hotel Babylon", because the acting is very strong, the photography is incredibly stylish (Guy Ritchie - take notes!), the characters are portrayed more with conviction than mockery, the production is top-notch, and the adventures (even the crazy ones) are so well-paced and structured that you just can't help but go along for the ride.

People who've worked in a hotel will appreciate the outlandish circumstances hotel staff can be put in, and how ridiculously dedicated and knowledgable some hotels require you to be. And if you've never worked in a hotel before ... after 'Hotel Babylon,' you'll appreciate the guest services provided and definitely be a better sport on your next vacation. Cheers! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio Commentary from the show’s producers (Episode One only)
Making-of Featurette