'Grantchester,' 'Babylon' And 'Man Seeking Woman'

January 14, 2015 6:51 PM

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"Babylon," 10 p.m. ET, Thursday, Sundance Channel: This U.K. drama, which lists director Danny Boyle as an executive producer and premiered Jan. 8, has a few things to recommend it, notably James Nesbitt as the tough, charismatic head of London's embattled police force and a brisk, nimble energy (but fair warning -- some of the accents can be tough going). "Babylon" appears to want to take on very timely issues, including the ways in which the police interact (sometimes disastrously) with people in custody or members of the public on the streets. But the main focus of the drama keeps returning to the personal and professional life of an American PR woman (Brit Marling) advising the top cops. She attempts to steer coverage of the London police force in ways that will enhance its image (and that of her boss), but various media crises and political grudges keep throwing her plans off track. Despite the show's energy and good cast, there's a slightly anticlimactic feel to the whole enterprise: It won't come as a surprise to anyone that back-room dealmaking goes on between police brass and politicians in a big city, or that, for powerful people, concerns about image often trump more pressing priorities. Though "Babylon" is pleasant and reasonably well executed, there's not too much to grab on to at the center of the drama; it makes moves toward engagement of knotty issues, only to ultimately skate along their surface. But Nesbitt is typically excellent and the show's depiction of London, its cops and its cynical politics can be diverting.

"Man Seeking Woman," 10:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, FXX: The great thing about television's current wave of expansion is that all kinds of ideas are getting tested out. Not all of those approaches work, of course, and this new comedy is a prime example of a set of ideas that might have seemed OK in a pit...

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