If last week’s episode of Sky1’s sunshine-fuelled new drama was about a woman disrupting the lives of men, then this week’s was most definitely about how men disrupt one another, despite their “friendship”.
So far Mad Dogs has seen the group of four chums – Phillip Glenister (Ashes To Ashes), John Simm (Life On Mars), Max Beesley (Hotel Babylon) and Marc Warren (Hustle) – comically try to cover up the murder of their friend only to find themselves in ever-escalating scrapes, involving drug deals and now a policewoman asking a lot of questions.
Sensing that their time may be up, the boys decide to ditch the corpse of their friend Alvo, who was offed by “Tiny Blair” in Episode 1 (and whose Majorcan villa they’re staying in), in the sea. But the tension and pressure is beginning to show on the gang, with Rick (Warren) the first to crack.
His personality, aided by drink, is also starting to grate on Quinn and Baxter (Glenister and Simm, respectively). Rick riles Quinn up by discussing the latter’s shortcomings in great detail and belies the trust of Baxter by revealing he had lent him money. Tempers begin to fray and we wonder if Warren’s character would be joining Alvo underwater too.
Simm, so sympathetic in the previous instalment as the “DNA raped” victim, becomes prick-of-the-century with his belligerent goading of Rick and sarcastic mocking of the self-important, quote-spouting teacher Quinn. The language-o-meter also gets a bit steamy as snideness and nastiness are deployed in equal measure. The opening episode saw the group somewhat restrained and middle-aged, but here these men are ferocious, bitter and ready to kill.
The first two thirds are quiet moments, though; focusing on the discussions about their failures. Particularly poignant is Quinn’s confession about children. He states: “When you’re in love with someone, they tell you there’s no greater experience than having a child together. As soon as you do, as soon as you have that kid, the love that you had for each other is consigned to history,” concluding, “It’s one of the last great taboos isn’t it? Wishing you never had your kids.”
Just as Russell T Davies chose to highlight delicate interpersonal relationships as the world/universe/time was in turmoil during his time on Doctor Who, writer Cris Cole does the same here. With jail and/or death around every corner, the men use these moments for honesty – bluntly delivered honesty, at that.
But this wonderful character-building does take a back seat to the events of the last 15 minutes or so, which dive into pure comedy (or jump into, if you like). Finding the man behind the first episode’s “Tiny Blair”, the boys are faced with more choices, especially as the midget in question can bark, spite and bite better than he can speak English.
Despite the gravity of the situation, there are some genuinely hilarious moments that will make you forget about the frailty of the male ego. Thankfully, it’s tonally appropriate with a sharp script and, most importantly, fitting performances. Being an effed-up middle-aged man with no prospects has never been so much fun.
Airs at 9pm on Thursday 24th February 2011 on Sky1 and Sky1HD.