The Rise and Fall of Babylon

SoHo has rescheduled British police satire Babylon for next month — but prospects of a second season look grim after its ratings went into freefall in the UK.

The original pilot, which aired 9pm on a Sunday in February, drew a consolidated (live and delayed) audience of 2.3 million.

But since the series proper went to air in November, albeit on a weeknight and an hour later, viewership has plummeted from 1.2 million for the first episode to 700,000 the following week to 411,000 for the most recent.

Compare that to the latest episode of The Fall, which aired the same night and drew 2.61 million.

Babylon’s rise and fall seems to have more to do with its inconsistent tone than shift from a weekend slot to a weeknight.

“The pilot of Babylon, broadcast back in February, was a promising mess,” The Guardian said. “A kind of satire on policing, set in the Met’s HQ, it tried to do too much and didn’t quite succeed in anything.

“The resulting series seems a little less frenetic, but not a great deal more coherent in tone … As a half-hour comedy, it could work a treat.

“The addition of some genuine moments of drama, however, make it a confusing hour.”

The Independent agreed: “Babylon – a dizzying, protean, at points incoherent comedy-drama  – doesn’t appear to know what it really wants to be at the moment. All the best of luck to it.”

The Telegraph recalls the pilot for “this quick-fire comedy drama about the public-relations obsessed folk at the top of the police hierarchy in London (and the sometimes less than savvy officers who ‘represent the brand’ at the sharp end), directed by Danny Boyle and written by Peep Show’s Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, was seen as an uneasy mixture of high-concept political satire and bathetic cop comedy.

“Still, Channel 4 commissioned a six-part series, and last night’s opener served up more of the same problematic blend.”

Here, Babylon will air 8.30 Wednesdays, from January 7.

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