‘Mad Dogs’: Episode 4 review

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Sky1’s star-studded drama comes to an end for the four blokes suffering more than a simple case of mid-life crisis. But is it fun in the sun for the gang or just a bad case of sunstroke? Sadly, for the viewer, it’s the latter.

After three episodes of wonderful character building and some beautiful shots of foreign climes comes a clunker so baffling that you may well wonder if the production team had left the episode’s original script back in Blighty and made the televised one up on the spot. But more of this later.

The episode starts promisingly enough with the boys – Max Beesley (Survivors), Marc Warren (Hustle), Phillip Glenister (Life On Mars) and John Simm (Doctor Who) – under threat and stuck in their palatial villa. Already we’ve seen them breakdown to an extent, but here they begin to crack even more under pressure. Old grudges come out, yet again, and this is where Mad Dogs falls apart.

We’ve seen them fight and now we’re seeing it a bit more. Only now, Quinn (Glenister) has decided to “white up” his face (well, imitate the Eng-er-land flag at least) and start acting very oddly indeed. Why? Who knows. But his mania catches on and then suddenly, in the space of ad break, all the boys are dressed up in camouflage, masks and various fancy dress ephemera.

Obviously, the makers were going for a Lord Of The Flies vibe, but it’s a comedic misfire, especially as the group have unconvincingly transformed into gun-toting, Serbia mafia-hating/fearing nut jobs. There’s more odd directions taken before the story finishes, though we shan’t spoil them for you, plus an “ending” (and we use the term quite wrongly) that will infuriate.

On the one hand, it’s a bold finale, but on the other hand the pretentiously unresolved nature of the story leaves a bad taste in the mouth, with too much going on in the space of the final minute (after fifteen minutes of mind-shakingly bad decisions) to give the situation any further thought.

Disappointing doesn’t cover it. Mad Dogs had been something quite special – a so-so story fired up by some neat set-pieces, sharp lines and performances that grew with each episode. But Episode 4 nullifies the point of the previous three instalments with overblown histrionics, brain-strokingly poor character choices and, worst of all, a denouement that’s further compounded by the sickeningly overused plod-rock tune, ‘Run’.

A Snow Patrol montage does not an ending make.

Airs at 9pm on Thursday 3rd March 2011 on Sky1 and Sky1HD.

> Order the DVD on Amazon.