'Babylon' review: Scotland Yard’s image shot down in fine form

It’s been a long time between TV gigs for Danny Boyle, but the director’s return to the medium confirms good things are worth waiting for: “Babylon,” a six-part comedy-drama, with equal and equally effective portions of each, premieres 10 p.m. Thursday on Sundance TV.

Although the series trains its sights on Scotland Yard, it has an eerily timely – and obviously unplanned – connection to contemporary events on this side of the Atlantic about public perception of the police.

Chief Constable Richard Miller (James Nesbitt) hires an American public relations genius named Liz Garvey (Brit Marling) to improve the public’s perception of Scotland Yard. Liz thinks the way to achieve what Nesbitt wants is through transparency.

Good idea, except not every aspect of life at the Yard can withstand the glare of the spotlight, and perception quickly becomes more important than substance: good, honest police work.

When London breaks out in violence after the shooting of a black teenager by a cop, the Yard is caught with its scruples down.

The direction is, of course, perfectly paced with the escalating action. Boyle elicits superb performances from every member of his cast. The writing is the real heart of the story, and much of it is hilariously baroque.