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Mad Dogs: Series 4 Episode 1 Review

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Reviewed by James Wynne.

Mad Dogs has returned for one final hurrah, and despite the pervading sense last series that the show was beginning to drag its heels somewhat, it has bounded back onto our screens with all the enthusiasm of a ‘mad dog’.

Adrian Shergold brings his inimitable directorial style to proceedings once more, and showcases for the umpteenth time his distinct ability to summate the aberrance of Mad Dogs from behind the camera.

For example: Baxter’s floundering attempts to deliver his wedding speech are framed by a series of close-up ‘fisheye’ shots imposing on him, which inflict the same feeling of unease that Bax is experiencing at that moment. Rick’s hasted departure from the ceremony after his phone goes off is given similar treatment, and evokes an identical sensation of discomfort.

Shergold’s zany techniques have contributed so much to the identity of the show, and he’s done a customarily cracking job with the finale thus far.

As has Chris Cole. One of the frequent criticisms I directed at the previous series was the repetitious bickering between the lads. It wasn’t so much the arguing itself, but rather that the nature of it ploughed the same old courses, which we’d seen frequently enough in prior series. There’s an intrinsic dysfunctionality to the characters of Quinn, Bax, Woody, and Rick, so hostility will always arise at some point or another, but watching the same old argumentative routines play out time and time again is a wearisome viewing experience.

It’s not long before a conventional bout of squabbling breaks out in this episode, instigated as it so often is by the improvidence of Rick, but it takes a surprisingly violent turn, when Rick brandishes a pool cue and begins attacking his friends with every implement at his disposal. It harks back to the ‘vending machine brawl’ of the first series, only this time it transpires more like a hilarious disaster skit, with it culminating in Rick being forcibly tabogganed down a flight of stairs and into the midst of a load of wedding guests and one hapless waiter.

So much of this penultimate outing is reminiscent of the first series and first episode. The plot structure even follows a strikingly similar pattern (i.e. the lads abscond from their mundane, dissatisfactory lives in Britain to an exotic location; content at first, only for events to take a couple of horrifying twists). It’s a deft touch from Cole to remind us of how it all began right as it’s all about to end, and he does so without it just feeling like a stale retread.

Verdict: 9/10

With the usual stellar performances from its principal cast, this is a faultless slice of traditional madcap, Mad Dogs fun and terror, and it sets up the final episode with aplomb. The reappearance of Dominic (Tim Woodward) as the orchestrator of the lads’ latest nightmare addresses the last of the lingering plot threads, and hopefully promises a full circle closure to the events of the last three series.

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