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Mad Dogs episode 1 review

Mad Dogs cast. Max Beesley, philip Glenister, John Simm, Marc Warren and Ben Chaplin

Review by Tim Carson

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out 5

The cast list for Mad Dogs is a big enough reason to tune in to Sky1’s new drama. It reunites John Simm and Philip Glenister from Life On Mars and throws in two more big stars of the small screen Marc Warren (Hustle) and Max Beesley (Survivors) as four school friends off to visit their old school chum Alvo (Ben Chaplin) in Mallorca.

The trip starts off as a lads’ holiday for a bunch of 40-year-olds who’ve been friends for 25 years but not seen that much of each other in recent times. Arriving at Alvo’s stunning villa they are soon cracking open the beers and cracking jokes at each other’s expense.

Everything seems idyllic, but it doesn’t take long for the jokes to take on a bit of an edge and for the cracks to start appearing in the group’s friendship. Alvo in particular seems to be deliberately prodding and probing old wounds – ribbing Quinn (Glenister) about his job, reminding Rick (Warren) that he missed out on joining him in his success and pushing Baxter (Simm) about his divorce and his lack of money.

The arrival of an unexpected guest on their first night – a dead goat floating in the pool – does little to calm the mood. The air of foreboding builds nicely throughout the episode and having seen the four visitors bloodied and beaten at the very start of the show we know something is going to go horribly wrong.

Ben Chaplin is excellent as the mysterious, menacing, even-unhinged Alvo whose antics spark the drama into life. The rest of the cast inhabit their characters with ease making each one real and credible. It seems like they have known each other for years and you can feel the ups and downs of those friendships and the underlying frustrations and resentments they all have.

The dialogue flows naturally and there are plenty of snappy lines to add to the strong performances. The plot is a slow-burner and only really grips in the last explosive few minutes. However, it’s still fun watching cast doing their stuff and there are enough intriguing questions raised in the episode to keep you interested right up till the dramatic ending.

So far Mad Dogs is good, solid television. Entertaining and compelling enough to make you want to tune in next week. Whether it makes it to the next tier of TV greatness depends on where the next three episodes take us.

Mad Dogs, Sky1, Thursdays 9pm