Despite some compelling themes, Babylon seems to have missed its mark.
Danny Boyles name is enough to get people up and interested in a new project, so when his new TV series, Babylon – on Channel 4 – was announced, attention was fixed firmly on the police comedy-drama. But has he managed to make the grade with the critics?
The show centres on the concept of spin within the police force as one of the UK’s most controversial institutions tries to cover up – or at least spin – some pretty bad press. Bringing in Instagram’s PR maestro is the Metropolitan Police’s way of changing their public façade.
But despite a contemporary, hotly discussed and emotive subject matter, not everyone was agreed on Babylon’s merits. Expecting a biting, satirical ‘dramedy’, most critics were surprised to find themselves empathising with certain characters, and lamenting love interests between others. That said, the reviews were certainly slanted with positivity.
“Does Garvey’s background in social media and faith in “transparency” adequately equip her to deal with such a shambles?” ask The Independent. “Unfortunately, the answer seemed to be yes. Unfortunate, because spotless professionalism doesn’t sit well in a British workplace dramedy, and because Armstrong and Bain’s best characters have always been incompetents – the cowardly Mark and the vain JP,” added Ellen E Jones in her review.
“The only dud note for me was the teeing up of a potential romance between Miller and Garvey, which was an extraneous bit of romantic fluff in an otherwise streamlined show,” said Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian. “But Babylon is not the vicious satire that some had anticipated. It's too funny, too human. Viewers are even led to empathise with the armed officer returned too quickly to duty after shooting an unarmed suspect, which is a brave thing to ask, given recent events.”
James Nesbitt in Babylon
The Telegraph’s Ben Lawrence decided the show deserved 3 stars, suggesting “Channel 4's Babylon would have worked better without Danny Boyle,” in his review. “While it had many strengths, Babylon was not quite as great as the sum of its parts and the problem lay in Boyle’s direction. He may be Britain’s most-lauded director but his filter of coolness was at odds with the very British, rather dyspeptic dialogue of Bain and Armstrong.”