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Discovering Mad Dogs

Discovering Mad Dogs

Dedicated television viewers know that there will always be shows that everyone wants you to watch, either it’s a cult show, a show that ended way before it’s time, or seems to grab everyone’s attention but yours. However many viewers find themselves stumbling upon these shows either years later or late into a shows run. I’ve compiled a list of ten shows, published once a week, that have become classics or are on their way to doing so and have recently been discovered by this writer.

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Mad Dogs

Created by Chris Cole

Original run February 2011-Present

Four friends from school, who don’t really like each other and have drifted apart and into middle age come together when a fifth friend invites them to his villa in Majorca. Alvo (Ben Chaplin) is celebrating his early retirement after making a lot of money in some very shady ways. For the first three days things go great. There are a few hitches like a dead goat floating in Alvo’s swimming pool and stealing a boat but it doesn’t seem to effect things to much. That changes though when a small person wearing a Tony Blair mask bursts in and kills Alvo. Baxter (John Simm), Rick (Marc Warren), Woody (Max Beesley), and Quinn (Philip Glenister) soon find themselves in possession of almost four million dollars and being pursued by a dirty female cop.

Mad Dogs, the atmospheric and darkly funny, British show veers off after that crazy and bloody first season. I came to Mad Dogs after I realized it was the reunion of Simm and Glenister after Life on Mars had ended. I’m not really sure what I was expecting from Mad Dogs but the David Lynch style, frequently violent and often hilarious show changed all of my expectations and gave me a great ride in the process.

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Show’s are so frequently littered with anti-heroes these days and Mad Dogs is no different. Baxter, Woody, Rick and Quinn aren’t really the greatest guys and as the show goes on they don’t get much better (in a lot of ways it’s about their fall from civilized society into the crime world) but like any wonderful show with a challenging anti-hero Mad Dogs frequently rises to the challenge and gives us characters that we hope survive the brutality of their situation. It works because very early on it’s made clear that these four are actually kind of screw-ups and very early in the first season they don’t have a choice. Calling the police, returning the money, cutting up bodies? Par for the course because essentially these guys just want to spice up their rather meaningless lives.

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The show’s greatest accomplishment is it’s atmosphere. Obviously inspired by movies like Shallow Grave and Sexy Beast, you can feel the desperation and heat radiating off of every surface in the show. It’s actors also manage to raise the show. Even when frequently cruel all four of the main leads make their characters actions understandable with Glenister and Beesley as particular standouts and as usual Simm gives an unusal and consuming performance.

Mad Dogs is an unexpected, thrilling and darkly funny find.

Tressa Eckermann