Review: Mad Dogs (UK)

Another British series, this one ran for four extremely-abbreviated seasons beginning in 2011. I admit it, I watched this because two of the actors from the BBC’s Life on Mars are in it: Philip Glenister and John Simm. Anyway, fourteen episodes over a total of four “seasons.” That’s like half a normal TV season, stretched out over four years. Even the US version of Life on Mars, which only ran for one year, had seventeen episodes. SMH.

So what shall we say about this show that’s spoiler-free? Four old British school-chums go on a holiday to visit a fifth school-chum at his island getaway. He’s done well for himself so he’s hosting this get-together.

First we spend a little bit of time getting to know the characters. Then we get to watch their superficial friendliness degenerate into sniping at each other. There’s nothing like an old friend to know just what to say.

Then they get into trouble. At first it’s somewhat mysterious, but it quickly turns deadly. They don’t know where to turn or who to trust. They have a stubborn streak that insists on believing that they can just go home and things will be back to normal. That seems less and less likely as time goes on.

Let’s just say that this is a long, drawn out series of nightmarish disasters. There appears to be no escape from the cycle.

It’s an interesting watch because you get to like the characters – mostly. You get to see how they cope with each new situation, much as you’d watch a train-wreck in slow motion. The settings are very distinctive, the people they meet are all very different, and of course none of us know who can be trusted.

It can be difficult to watch how the protagonists sometimes treat each other. But of course we’re seeing them trying to deal with the worst situations imaginable. Makes you wonder how you’d hold up in similar circumstances.

The end of each “season” is written so it pretty much could’ve ended right there. I don’t know how the renewal situation played out, but if it were me I would’ve ended it at the close of season three. The two-episode fourth season was unnecessary, and not the ending I would’ve preferred.

But the actors do a fine job, regulars and guests. The story isn’t too predictable. The locations are exotic. Can’t say that I noticed the music, which I suppose could be a positive. If I had to categorize the series, I’d call it “absurd tragedy,” perhaps Theatre of the Absurd.

In any case, while it’s not upbeat by any means it’s certainly well done, and a good watch. Recommended.

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