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Mad Dogs – final episode review

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

Review by Tim Carson

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

MAD DOGS, Sky 1’s four-part mini-series, came to a dramatic conclusion on Thursday night that thankfully did justice to the rest of the series. That’s an achievement in itself as too often the pay-off in such mini-series is too obvious and heavy-handed.

ITV’s Marchlands, for example, which has run at exactly the same time as Mad Dogs for the last four weeks, was a similarly gripping mini-series but the final episode felt a little pedestrian and obvious as the “mystery” was revealed.

Mad Dogs at least was a little different modelling itself more on The Sopranos and leaving us the viewers to decide what happened to the four unlikely lads.

The journey to that finale was a hugely enjoyable and entertaining one as the four friends Woody, Bax, Rick and Quinn got into more and more trouble. From seeing their friend Alvo shot before their eyes to finding a tiny thug in their freezer with his fingers stuffed in his mouth – this has not been your ordinary lads’ holiday.

The final episode began with the four having to dispose of the tiny thug’s body – while trying to figure out killed him, what the hell was really going on and if they were going to wind up dead too. Was it the police? Was it the Serbian mafia? And was the beautiful but mysterious policewoman who kept popping round to question them involved too?

The paranoia, suspicion and fear brought the tension inside the house to breaking point as the four barricaded themselves in. The cracks that had been appearing in the friendships split apart under the pressure and the petty bickering and back-stabbing explodes into rage and fisticuffs.

It’s all handled with great skill by the cast who make each argument so believable that you wonder why these four are even friends in the first place. They also bring warmth and vulnerability to each of the characters as they realise the truth of what’s being said to them and that in fact their friends have been there for them when they’ve needed them.

John Simm (Bax) and Philip Glenister (Quinn) probably steal the acting credits in the finale episode with two moving speeches but not by much as Max Beesley and Marc Warren also have great moments. They also managed to successfully balance comedy and tragedy with some hilarious lines to lighten the gloom as they face the prospect of not making it out alive.

The scenes as Bax pieces together the mystery are great as they provide a resolution to what’s been going on without spelling it out and hammering it home. But even then in the final moments the writers throw in a little bit of doubt as to whether the four lads and we as the audience have got it right.

The fate of all four lads marked out but Mad Dogs doesn’t show it to us. The ending is therefore left open not just for us to decide what happens but possibly for the writers and Sky 1 to decide to make a sequel. I for one would not be disappointed if they did as Mad Dogs has been great.

Mad Dogs episode 1 review