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Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Check into the Hotel Babylon

August 8, 2007

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Bravo recently launched its latest occupation reality series, "Welcome to the Parker," set in a high-end Palm Beach, Fla., resort. Although the show pays scrupulous attention to the detail-oriented grunt work necessary to making a posh spot shine, the makers of "Parker" seem to forget that most people watch shows and movies about hotels for entertainment, distraction and voyeuristic fun.

The makers of the British series "Hotel Babylon" (8 p.m., BBC America) have made no such error, and the series offers a glitzy "Grand Hotel" for the 21st century.

Max Beesley stars as the ambitious deputy manager, Charlie, who works under the beautiful, no-nonsense Rebecca (Tamzin Outhwaite), who will stop at nothing to make sure their demanding clients spend a luxurious and expensive night at the Babylon.

In the series' effervescent first episode, a rock band with a bad reputation checks into the Babylon. On "Welcome to the Parker," this would probably make for a crisis.

The folks at the fictional Babylon see only the opportunity to bilk the band's record company for triple rates for expensive champagne and Cuban cigars. And if the boys misbehave, the publicity can be priceless.

"Babylon" never loses focus on the simple truth that going to a hotel, or watching television about hotels, should put the emphasis on the fun, the naughty and the unexpected. This saucy series will run weekly through Nov. 21. I'd make a reservation if I were you.

¢ "Great Performances" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) invites you to dance on the ceiling of your brick house. "Lionel Richie: Live in Paris" offers songs old and new from the former Commodore, whose biggest hits include "Hello," "Easy" and "Three Times a Lady."

¢ "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Kansas City Chiefs" (9 p.m., HBO) chronicles life inside an NFL training camp. The unscripted documentary film is shot and edited on the fly, offering fans an intimate and immediate look at a football team as players work out, practice and vie to make the squad. The team's media-savvy coach, Herm Edwards, should figure prominently in "Hard Knocks," which airs weekly on Wednesdays (encores Thursday) through Sept. 5.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Cat Deeley hosts "So You Think You Can Dance" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ The long-running nature series "Explorer" (7 p.m., National Geographic) tackles the touchy subject of jellyfish invasions.

¢ The long-missing and little-missed comedy series "The Knights of Prosperity" (7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., ABC) returns with two episodes.

¢ "Lost Worlds" (8 p.m., History) peels back the pages of the "Kama Sutra."

¢ The final eight get funny on "Last Comic Standing" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ Lizzie goes missing on "The Nine" (9 p.m., ABC).

¢ Janet wants revenge on "Rescue Me" (9 p.m., FX).

¢ Contestants prepare food fit for a hangover on "Top Chef" (9 p.m., Bravo).

¢ "The Real World" (9 p.m., MTV) goes down under and sets up shop in Sydney, Australia.

Cult choice

Some viewers treat movies like comfort food, devouring them every chance they get, be they "Footloose" (7 p.m., VH1 Classic), "The Dirty Dozen" (7 p.m., AMC) or "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" (7 p.m., FX).

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