Amazon Originals/Mad Dogs

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Amazon first Pilot season of 2015 kicks off as they try and decide what will stay and what will go out of their 13 shows. I’ve picked 3 pilots to do a review on, and I shall decide if I think they’ll get full season pickups by liking and rating the shows.

I’m unsure as to whether this is a good way of deciding what will go/stay for the simple reason of money, they have 13 titles to showcase and will probably pick up less than half, admiringly it’s cheaper to make a pilot than it is to maintain a long running show (depending on cast fees) I can only think of 1 show that’s really done something for Amazon in the four years they have been doing this and that is Transparent which was a huge hit in 2014 and would have been on many critics choice awards, it’s also a multi golden globe winner.

I have to confess I watched one episode of Transparent and I found it boring and too much of a “trying too hard” to be unique, but it seems to work. I feel it’s the same people who like HBO’s Girls for that exact reason, but I digress, usually I will give a show 4 episodes before I decide if I like them and I know others live by a similar rule, it’s hard to decide if a show has legs from a pilot, but here goes, first off we have:

Mad Dogs
(Amazon synopsis) When a group of underachieving 40-something friends gather in Belize to celebrate the early retirement of an old friend, a series of wild events unfold, exposing dark secrets, deception and even murder. Starring Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Billy Zane (Twin Peaks), Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) and Romany Malco (Weeds). Executive produced by Cris Cole and Shawn Ryan (The Shield).

This show is a remake of the UK series with some big names (see above) including Ben Chaplin who was in the UK version, Cris Cole the man responsible for the UK version also worked together with Shawn Ryan in creating this, I have to say that I haven’t actually seen the UK version, it never really interested me so I will unfortunately not be able to do any comparisons between the two.

Though I hadn’t seen it I kind of got the gist of what was going to happen, I’m not sure why maybe it’s not subtle in the scripting, we start by seeing 4 friends on their way to Belize to meet up with their rich friend who has flown them out, for a vacation as far as they’re all aware, they all seem more than thrilled to get away from their mundane lives, partners and jobs respectively and live in luxury for a time.

The transition work from Ryan really makes this pilot for me, it’s all happy middle aged men catching up, having drinks, lounging around, living up the good life, but there is an undercurrent from Milo (Zane) who will occasionally have subtle digs or manipulations to his friends, until the episode starts to take a darker turn and as a viewer you’re expecting something but not what you get.

The dynamic between the friends is very interesting as they are obviously good friends, but they also have resentment towards one another and all have their secrets and shames, the show has it’s amusing moments but I feel that may be something to come later with the darkness, and the shifted tone which surely will just become panic from each episode onwards.

With the shows underlying tension, costly mistakes and bad decisions played out by known actors I can’t see this show not getting more episodes, even with it being a remake, Ryan has thought this through and there is so much thought gone into it, the forethought in ideas and plot add to this show’s nuances and delivery.

Gavin Tones

Next I will do The Man in the High Castle