The lad’s holiday – a celebration of decadent hedonism: booze, girls, cigars, cars and boats. And Tony Blair with a gun. Apparently. Welcome to the world of Sky 1’s Mad Dogs, a four-part sun-soaked psychological drama which looks very much like TV’s answer to Sexy Beast.
As mentioned, the focus of Mad Dogs is a group of men on holiday. Once upon a time they may have been lads, but now they are washed-up middle aged men, this fact is driven home hard, with words like ‘alcoholic’, ‘failure’ and ‘divorce’ littering the script at every turn. Quinn (Phillip Glenister), Woody (Max Beesley), Rick (Marc Warren) and Baxter (John Simm), are all planted in a Majorca villa owned by their fifth friend Alvo (Ben Chaplin), a successful businessman who has apparently retired early. The first episode’s opening scene finds the four visitors bloodied and injured, apologising to their children and/or wives via some shifty camcorder. It is a fairly gimmicky stab at grabbing the viewers attention, but while it may be a rather blunt instrument, it is not without merit.
When we flashback to our merry band of dad lads having fun in Majorca we can pick up on a certain slow-building tension between the four men and Alvo, the fifth friend they are visiting and by far the most interesting character. There’s a dead goat in the pool and a bit of nautical joy-riding, but the episode ends with a literal bang, brought about by a midget kitted out with an eerie Tony Blair mask and a gun. Cue splashes of ketchup and the credits, the only thing missing being the doof-doofs of a classic Eastenders cliff-hanger.
Despite Sky’s rather extensive publicity campaign, Mad Dogs comes across as a British attempt at some glossy American drama which has ended up towards the trashy end of the spectrum. This isn’t a terrible thing as the trashy atmosphere adds to the rather smutty scenes where the middle-aged men go clubbing in Majorca, but the sometimes amateurish camera manoeuvres – including an incredibly cringe-worthy sex scene – do somewhat damage the show’s credibility.
However, while it may have some questionable aspects and an absence of genre-breaking material (while effective, the opening scene is anything but original) Mad Dogs does have an air of mystery and watchability to it. Apparently the second episode gets proper weird though…