Baby­lon Mon­day, 8.30pm, BBC First (117)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television / Pay -

At first glance, this looks as though it’s shap­ing up to be another ex­cel­lent Bri­tish crime drama. But it dif­fers from oth­ers in that it tack­les con­tro­ver­sies that have dogged Lon­don’s po­lice for years, and is laced with black hu­mour. Baby­lon cen­tres on a branch of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice Ser­vice that is do­ing a some­what dys­func­tional job of han­dling the chaos that crosses its path daily. Com­mis­sioner Richard Miller (James Nes­bitt) hires Amer­i­can public re­la­tions ex­pert Liz Gar­vey (Brit Mar­ling) as di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Her job is to ef­fect or­der and im­prove the force’s neg­a­tive im­age, but her ef­forts to get ev­ery­one to lift their game are not ap­pre­ci­ated by some of the boys. This 90minute episode was a test run (it was fol­lowed up with a six-part se­ries that pre­miered in Bri­tain ear­lier this year), and it opens with a squad raid­ing a home where the owner ap­pears half naked (the bot­tom half) and they taser the poor dog — which al­most lost me then and there, but it runs up­stairs so I re­laxed. Things take a dra­matic turn when a se­ries of what ap­pear to be ran­dom shoot­ings breaks out. All this tur­moil is off­set by some very funny lines. Writ­ers Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong and Jon Brown con­sulted the Met’s for­mer deputy as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner Brian Pad­dick to make sure the scripts were au­then­tic. That alone is some­thing to pon­der.

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