Mad Dogs: Call me Tantalus…

I had given up hope of actually seeing Mad Dogs before reaching the end of the tantalising press release all those months ago. Philip Glenister and John Simm reunited! Plus Marc Warren and Max Beesley (who was frankly excellent in the darker than dark Bodies and is thus forgiven for Hotel Babylon)! Shenanigans in the sun! Murder! Mystery! Oh – it’s on Sky1… *deflates*

How is it that I can blog this first episode then you might be wondering? Have I shelled out for Sky1? No, instead the evil people at Sky decided to taunt those of us who have Freeview Sky3 by letting us watch the first episode. But ONLY the first episode. Gits.

Anyway, enough of my bitterness and resentment… Was Mad Dogs any good? Unfortunately for me, yes. It was blokeish without wandering into the usual casual misogyny. It had suspense and plenty of dark underbelly which I imagine will be fully explored in the next three episodes. It had a dead goat in a swimming pool… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Four friends, Quinn (Glenister), Baxter (Simm), Rick (Warren) and Woody (Beesley) come together to visit their mutual friend Alvo in his luxurious Spanish villa (clearly – as far as the sofabound viewer is concerned – paid for with some distinctly dodgy wonga).

Every stage of life comes with its own set of worries (spots, will I ever get a snog/boy- or girlfriend?, will I ever keep a boy- or girlfriend?, kids, spouses, careers, death etc), Mad Dogs turns its eye on early middle age trauma. Two of the men are divorced. One is married to another’s girlfriend of twenty-years before. The last had a girlfriend who killed herself. They’re an embarrasment to any kids they’ve had. They don’t own a luxurious villa in the Spanish hillside. And for reasons best known to himself, their supposed friend Alvo needles each of them individually and then en masse about their weak spots. We all know roughly what he’s got coming and it’s hard to muster any sympathy for him – unlike our four going mad in Majorca.

I might be wrong (those of you continuing to watch on Sky1 in the next three weeks can come back and let me know!), but Alvo certainly appears to be a drug dealer (as well as a bastard) who has got on the wrong side of a bigger fish by claiming to be out of the business. (Although I can’t help thinking there are going to be drugs in those fancy leather satchels he’s given each of his friends as arrival presents…)

After an hour we have a little insight into each of the four. Quinn is divorced, a lecturer, the kids are at university and is the least up for partying like it’s still 1999. He seems to be the most moral of the group too.

Baxter is still a bit of an enigma. Also divorced and perhaps down on his luck (although that could easily just be Alvo’s view), he’s also quite reserved. So far.

Rick is married to Quinn’s ex-girlfriend (cue much stirring from Alvo) and gets himself laid with great vigour by a young gorgeous – but morally vacuous and enormously vocal – English woman on the first night. His wife shops for him and bought him Speedos at least one size too small for this trip. Never have Speedos looked less sexy  – Daniel ‘007’ Craig rising from the sea this was not.

Woody is teetotal – we’re being led to suspect some tragedy caused by past alcoholism and drink-driving – and had the suicidal girlfriend.

I’m dying to know where they’re going to take all this backstory (I’m told the DVD is out in March, so perhaps I’ll find out then), but we also have the big problem that a small man in a huge Tony Blair mask has just shot Alvo, spraying the four in blood. The homevideo of them asking if they can have the villa if he dies before them, is going to be a problem you sense. As is the fact that (to stop them Tweeting/Facebooking/texting incessantly) Quinn had them lock all their mobiles in Alvo’s safe for a £50 bet.

If there is any flaw to be found in Mad Dogs, it’s that the script could have done with at least one more round of polishing (perhaps two), but the onscreen chemistry of the actors just about makes up for the occasional slack or clunkingly expositional bit of dialogue.

So good luck to those of you who can watch the next episode next week – enjoy it. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I have three weeks of Glee to catch up you know…

Posted by Jo the Hat

1 Comment

Filed under Drama

One response to “Mad Dogs: Call me Tantalus…

  1. pauseliveaction

    I loved this- it was funny, weird, unsettling and atmospheric.

    Ben Chaplin was brilliant as Alvo. Sinister, superior, with a barely hidden agenda and a nice line in barbed comments. Shame he ended the first episode splattered over the walls.