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Reviewed by Will Harris
lthough there’s little room for argument against the suggestion that “Hotel Babylon” remains the very definition of a “guilty pleasure” series, one can be equally confident when stating that Season Three provides more change within the show than in either of the seasons that preceded it.
Season Two of the show wrapped up with Hotel Babylon’s manager, Rebecca Mitchell (played by Tazmin Outhwaite), losing the trust of the staff and subsequently deciding that the time was right to leave. Her last act at the hotel, however, was to recommend to management that her second-in-command, Charlie Edwards (Max Beesley), be considered for her replacement. And so it was that Charlie became the new general manager of Hotel Babylon – though, by the end of Season Three, he’s out the door as well!
But we’re jumping ahead.
Here’s how the changes go down during the course of the season. First, we’re introduced to a new member of the Hotel Babylon staff: Emily James (Alexandra Moen), who’s to be serving as the hotel’s new public relations person. Just as we get used to her presence, we’re introduced to another new member: Jack Harrison (Lee Williams), who’s replacing Charlie in the assistant manager position. Good timing, filling that spot, what with Charlie making his jump a few episodes later, but surprisingly, he’s not the only one departing. We also lose Jackie (Natalie Mendoza), who, after a tough is murdered within Hotel Babylon, skips town due to her concerns for her son.
As for the new characters, Emily arrives during the first episode of the season, so she gets the opportunity to experience a bit of growth, particularly when she gets rip-roaring drunk while trying to serve both as an employee of the hotel and a member of a friend’s bridal party. Jack, however, shows up rather abruptly and takes over the reign of command from Charlie so quickly that it’s rather hard to accept the transition. Indeed, the amount of fluctuation within the cast makes it a little hard to embrace either of the new characters very well, but there are still some enjoyable episodes to be had in Season Three, including one where we meet Gino’s brother and learn why the two of them don’t get along very well. The best, however, revolves around the hotel serving as the site for the final auditions for a new West End musical called “Princess Scrunchie.” Not only do we get to meet Tony’s daughter for the first time, but the original music performed by the kids during their auditions will stick with you for days.
Unfortunately, the final episode of the season isn’t as solid a finale as one might have liked, particularly given that, at the time, there was no guarantee that the show was going to be coming back. (As it happens, Season Four is set to premiere later in 2009.) There’s an interesting plot about faith healer Jonah Slaughter (played by the former Young Sherlock Holmes, Nicholas Rowe) which tackles what happens to the families of the people who put their faith in him, only to still die from whatever ailment he’d attempted to rid them of. Unfortunately, there’s a bit too much humor incorporated into a potentially serious premise, and although Samantha Bond (best known for her role as Miss Moneypenny in the Brosnan-era Bond films) has many funny lines, you can’t help but think that it would’ve been better if it had been taken seriously. This is ironic, however, given that there are several episodes within the season that are almost too serious, including Tony’s attempts to save the life of a teenage prostitute or Anna’s noble desire to out a designer for his use of child labor to produce his clothing line.
All told, it’s still another relatively pleasant – if not groundbreaking – season of “Hotel Babylon.” Here’s hoping that things settle down a bit in Season Four, however, and everyone actually manages to stay from the first episode ‘til the last.
Special Features: Disappointingly, there’s no bonus material at all, unless you count the trailers for other BBC series on DVD which preface each of the three discs of the set.