At first glance Mad Dogs may come off as some sort of Hangover rip off. But this pilot is not laugh out loud comedy; don’t get me wrong it’s kind of a dark comedy mixed with a lot of drama. A group of guys travel to Belize to see an old friend, when things take an unexpectedly dark turn. Honestly this was not my top pick of the Amazon pilots and I only watched it because Billy Zane was in it, yes in my mind that’s a reason to watch something. But the pilot really ended up being something that I could relate to. One of its leading themes is male friendship and how it can be strained and fades away over time; this is kind of a personal fear of mine. You look at men of my father’s generation and my grandfathers too, they tend to have people that they are in contact with as drinking buddies and work friends but they don’t really have good friends. Men have a tendency of drifting apart over their lives, this is something that is happening less and less especially as we live in this heavily connected age, but Mad Dogs at its core is about a group of childhood best friends struggling to keep their group together.
Directed by Charles McDougall (Tube Tales, House of Cards and Parks and Recreation to name but a few), the episode is stylish, flashy and just beautiful to look at. In some scenes you feel like a fly on the wall, in other words you feel like one of the guys. Mixed in with this is some beautiful locations and it sits somewhere between artistic and awesome.
We can praise the director all day but in the end a great part of the joy of watching the pilot is the cast. The guys gel so well together and they are really convincing as lifelong friends, not just the natural chemistry but the delivery and reaction to snide comments really helps add to the realism . Ben Caplin ( London Boulevard, The Thin Red-Line), Michael Imperioli (Good-Fellas, The Sopranos), Steve Zahn (Knights of Badassdom, That Thing you Do) and Romany Malco (Weeds, 40 year old Virgin), are perfect matches for each other and shine so well in this pilot. Though these actors do a fantastic job they are all over shadowed by Billy Zane, Zane just oozes cool, every group of friends has this guy, the cool guy who has made it, the confident guy, the dude of the group and Billy Zane plays that so well, from the moment you first see him just chilling out you really want to be that guy. The perfect mix of relaxed laid back dude and impulsive man’s man. Zane plays it all so well, not an easy role for anyone to play.
This has been a wonderful and unexpected joy, it made me laugh, it made me cringe, it even made me a little jealous. It’s a quiet pilot but when it gets noisy you will be drawn in, so sit back, pop open a nice bottle of whiskey, put your feet up and enjoy, because this is a great piece of television and has been one of my favourite pilots of 2015. In closing it may be an American remake of a British show but it’s pretty dam good. Hopefully this pilot will get picked up for a full season by Amazon Studios.
You can view the pilot on Amazon