DVD Review – The Spoils of Babylon

It’s always interesting to see what a group of actors will do when they don’t have to succeed with a project. Deciding to make an adaptation of a fake novel as a soap opera styled mini series for IFC, it’s kind of amazing to see the cast of The Spoils of Babylon pulling off a project that wouldn’t work without the need for it to be a massive success.

Babylon is a simple concept. It’s a chronicle of the lives of the super wealthy Morehouse family. Jonas (Tim Robbins) is the patriarch and we follow him and his daughter Cynthia (Kristen Wiig) and adopted son Devon (Tobey Maguire) as they go from the oil fields of Texas to the boardrooms of New York City. It’s a wild, over the top ride over six episode ride as one of the most high profile casts for a TV series in what’s a really interesting experiment of television.

Something like this wouldn’t work on network television or even a premier cable network like FX because it’s a show that’s intentionally over the top on nearly every front; it’s a farce presented in the old tradition of epic mini-series like Roots. It comes complete with an introduction by Will Ferrell, ostensibly as the novelist who’s “work” is being adapted.

The show itself is an interesting one at times because it’s mainly about what choices an actor will make when they operate without a net, so to speak. There’s no high water mark, ratings wise, for the show to have to hit and thus it’s curious to see the acting choices that are being made. It’s interesting to see veteran comedy actors be fairly bold in going over the top; this is a show that is lampooning the “big, epic” series of the past and everyone is trying to do something different.

That’s what makes the show interesting but not necessarily good. It’s so intent on trying to be a farce that sometimes letting the material work, and not over exaggerating everything about it, would be a better choice. It’s so over the top about it that sometimes it just gets irritating to watch. You can experiment with twee-hipster productions like this, when ratings aren’t an issue to begin with for a channel like IFC, but a little commercialism wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.

A handful of EPK pieces are included.

Anchor Bay presents The Spoils of Babylon. Starring Val Kilmer, Kristen Wiig, Tobet Maguire, Tim Robbins, Haley Joel Osmont. Run Time: 138 minutes Not Rated. Released on DVD: 3.8.2015

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