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Series / Mad Dogs

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A holiday to die for.
"In prosperity, your friends know you. In adversity, you know your friends."
Mad Dogs Tagline

Mad Dogs (2011-13) is a British dramedy in which four old college friends, played by The Master, Gene Hunt, Danny Blue and that guy from the adverts reunite with the newly successful fifth member of their gang, Alvo, at his new villa in Mallorca. Things take a dark turn when Alvo steals a "friend's" boat, dragging his friends into his own vengeance.

And then Tony Blair shoots somebody.

Tensions build as the Four-Philosophy Ensemble are caught in the middle of a nightmare of murder, drugs and corruption and the difficult pasts and conflicting opinions threaten to tear the group apart... did we mention Tony Blair shoots someone?

The series ran for three four-part series before a two-part finale at Christmas 2013.

This show provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil:
    • Drug baron and master criminal Mackenzie forces the Mad Dogs to eat ice cream on the beach with him, then gets them to work together in his kitchen to cook a Spanish Omelette for dinner.
    • Rick in particular is so perturbed by the pleasantries that it causes him to snap and scream at Mackenzie.
  • The Alcoholic: Woody in a past life, but he stresses his reformed nature throughout the series.
  • The Atoner: While on the run in Carmen's home village, Quinn sits alone in a church and confesses his murder of Maria to God, and eventually starts sobbing.
  • Bad Guy Bar: Quinn ends up the manager of one in his new life in South Africa, and becomes noticeably pissed off and anxious about the fact that everyone there, including himself, is a liar on the run from something.
  • Berserk Button: Referring to Rick as an "Accountant" causes him to seriously lose his shit. He insists that he is actually a Financial Advisor.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Lots and lots of native Spanish is spoken that the boys don't understand. In particular, Carmen's mother mentions Baxter with a devious smile on her face.
    • The poster's translation doubles as this and foreshadowing. The poster reads Road to Nowhere.
  • Black Comedy: Despite all the explosions, the gory murders, the body disposals and so on, part of the show's appeal is the four herberts' reaction and their incompetent attempts to deal with it.
  • Black Magic:
    • Paranoid Rick constantly worries about whether the Santerian village they're in will entangle them in voodoo curses.
      Quinn: "We're in a small Spanish village, not Lord of the Fucking Rings!"
    • Rick is also the only one to see visions of the Tokoloshe in series 3.
  • British Brevity: Only four episodes in each series.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • When the group is cornered by a hostile force, it is almost always Baxter who is targeted first for hostilities, simply based on his appearance. Tiny Blair in particular really seems to dislike him for no reason.
    • The title is eventually passed onto Rick, the only one of the four who fails to make something of himself in South Africa.
  • Call-Back: Dead animals found by the guys where they are staying, for instance the dead goat in Alvo's pool and the dead bird in the apartment they rent in Series 2.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Most of the time averted, most deaths are brutal and undramatic, adding realistic tension to the series. The deaths of Alvo, possibly Dominic and Hector are examples of this averted trope. The death of Maria is an exception; her death is very dramatic and is in slow motion.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything??: In Series 3, we see the top half of Rick at the urinals vigorously shaking, with his arms out of shot. He's actually trying to remove his ankle bracelet.
  • Double Entendre: Alvo makes sure to comment after playing tennis that he's got plenty of balls.
  • Downer Ending: Zigzagged. Series 1 ends with Quinn about to be shot by Dominic and the rest of the gang torn apart. Subverted with Series 2, which shows the other guys went back for Quinn and now have accidentally ended up in more trouble in Ibiza. Series 4 ends with the four being killed by a paralysed Dominic and travelling through purgatory before ultimately dying. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The Don: Mackenzie. a.k.a. the man Alvo stole the money from.
  • Drunk with Power: Doubly invoked by Alvo aboard the boat, gulping down a bottle of wine as he refuses to turn the boat back after he reveals he stole the boat from Jesus intended to be used for a drug deal.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Referenced by the head of the prison in Morocco, and used on the guys.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mackenzie pulls up next to Quinn posing as an innocent, good-natured tourist asking for directions, only to pull a gun on him and drop a Precision F-Strike. This is pretty much how Mackenzie comes across to everyone who meets him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Mackenzie asks for a volunteer to spend the night with him as his "hostage". Rick is the only one to volunteer, but gets told to take a hike.
  • Evil Cripple: Dominic in the finale.
  • Fair Cop: Corrupt Mallorcan detective Maria is ridiculously attractive, and succeeds in seducing the boys like a snake in order to interrogate them.
  • False Flag Operation: After the guys accidentally expose their true identities in South Africa, an American contact sends them on a Snipe Hunt out into the middle of nowhere to find "Lazaro", an ex-CIA spook who may be able to help them. It turns out that Lazaro is still in league with the CIA and is actually waiting to assassinate them.
  • Fanservice:
    • Maria Botto and Leticia Dolera.
    • There's also Marc Warren in little speedos.
  • Fingore: The boys return to the villa, only to find Tiny Blair murdered and stuffed into Alvo's freezer, with his fingers chopped off and crammed into his mouth. Cue panic stations.
  • Fish out of Water: The basic premise of the show. Four depressed, middle-aged herberts from suburban England get involved in murder, police corruption, drug dealing, money laundering, drug manufacturing, car bombs and identity fraud. All within the space of a week. Completely by accident and/or fate.
  • Foreshadowing: At the start of Series 2, when Rick and the boys arrive at the hotel you can catch a glimpse of Mackenzie's henchman when Rick looks over the balcony (dressed in a black leather jacket and sunglasses).
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Rick is The Cynic, Quinn The Optimist, Baxter The Realist and Woody plays The Apathetic. Carmen in Series 2 is The Conflicted.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Baxter: Sanguine
    • Rick: Choleric
    • Quinn: Melancholic
    • Woody: Phlegmatic
  • Gainax Ending: As graves are being dug up for the gang by over a dozen Tiny Blairs with Dominic waiting for them. They surrender as they are forced to kneel over the graves while one Tiny Blair puts a black bag over their head while another four prepare to shoot them execution style. As we are watching from Baxter's point of view the executioner's hood has been removed by an unseen person. All of the Tiny Blairs and Dominic have seemed to have disappeared. As the gang make their way back to a car they drive onto the motorway only to have the black car turn up on the side with two Tiny Blairs in the front. One of them removes his Tony Blair mask to reveal the face of Baxter as he waves at him while Baxter watches. The final line is spoken by Baxter saying "So is this the end of it?". The final shot then shows the car driving over a gap in the on the motorway and freezes as the credits roll.
  • The Ghost:
    • The guys' families back in England.
    • Up until the finale anyway. We see Baxter's ex-wife, his daughters and Rick's wife.
  • The Mafia: The Serbian Mafia, although they actually have nothing to do with the money or the boat are referenced and there is a huge trade in drugs around Spain and Ibiza.
  • The Napoleon:
    • "Tiny Blair", the Police-affiliated dwarf gangster who wears a giant Tony Blair mask.
    • This is actually accidental as the script called for "Tony Blair", but was misspelled "Tiny Blair" and loads of short men auditioned for the role.
  • Never My Fault: Baxter explodes into a petulant rage whenever someone (usually Quinn or Rick) insinuate that everything is his fault.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • Woody reverses into Dominic at high speed, smashing into him and sending him flying straight over the bonnet. His body appears a bloodied, very dead-looking mess at first, but he then manages to get up and stagger forwards, muttering incoherently before collapsing again.
    • He returns in the finale as the Big Bad except he's completely paralyzed this time.
  • Oh, Crap!: The entire series and all of its cliffhangers are built on Oh Crap moments.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Quinn is shot in the upper arm by Maria after he shoots her to prevent her from killing the other guys. Although it bleeds quite badly he suffers no ill effects at all.
  • Only One Name: Every single character in the show is only referred to by one name. In the boys' cases, they go by their nicknames that date back to their college years. Their full names are revealed in their CIA files during the final episode of series 3.
  • Only Sane Man: Oddly enough, Rick is often the only one to see how bad things are and what to do. For instance, in Series 2 he sensibly suggests they throw the 3 million Euros into the sea and go back to England, so they cannot be traced. Of course, the other guys don't listen to him.
  • Paranoia Fuel: In universe, all four of them get increasingly tense and paranoid.
    • Especially Rick, who snaps under the stress when Mackenzie serves him a home-cooked Spanish Omelette, instead of beating him up or killing him.
  • Posthumous Character: Alvo, Maria and possibly Dominic (it was unclear whether he died) all appear in "two weeks ago" flashbacks.
  • Sanity Slippage: Just after killing Maria and saving his friends lives, Quinn, complete with face paint, bandana and gunshot wound, turns the gun on those same friends and tells them to fuck off and never come back.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: After all of their efforts across the entire series just to survive, and watching everything they care about come apart around them, the show ends on the main characters careering off of a bridge to their deaths.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: In Ibiza, the boys get their money changed and are about to go home as rich men, when suddenly their hire car explodes into a gigantic fireball.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A highly insecure, miserable Alvo does this to all four of his friends, and seems intent on causing as much embarrassment and humiliation to them as possible in order to boost his own self-esteem.
    • This could be justified, as we see in Series 2 Alvo is confronted by the Big Bad and has his feathers ruffled. See Drunk with Power above.
      • Rick, the most histrionic and least reliant Mad Dog, also gets this speech multiple times from Baxter and Quinn for just generally being a pain in the arse.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: At the villa, Baxter acquires Tiny Blair's pistol and starts carrying it around with him wherever he goes, even to the police station. He stops after accidentally blowing a hole in the roof.
  • The Reveal: In the first episode that Alvo is has gang connections, and in the last that Maria is not a member of the police but a gangster. Although the last one was suspected since they showed up.
  • Running Gag: Rick missing a hug from everybody is prevalent from the first episode.
  • Third Act Stupidity: Baxter stupidly shoots Carmen dead, firing a gun like a lunatic the minute he's confronted with mild anxiety despite knowing his friends are nearby. In the final showdown, Rick fires the group's only weapon (a shotgun) at some henchmen who are miles out of its effective range until he completely empties the ammunition, dooming them all. Quinn also offers up an extremely lame excuse when asked if he has any contacts who can help the group from the shady bar he runs: "They don't just give out numbers." This completely ignores the fact that he owns the bar and could just call his staff and ask them to put his friends on the line. Not to mention that he personally knows many of the "connected" patrons he's been talking to for years, and should know their contact details anyway. Getting them on the phone to help out should be no problem at all.
  • Wham Line: "What if [Dominic's] not dead?"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The toy eyeball motif (which seems borderline ripped from Breaking Bad) seems to be important. One of the characters even risks his own life to save his friends after gazing at it; the meaning of the metaphor is never explained and it's never visited again.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After Lazarov's plan to assassinate the mad dogs goes awry, he resorts to growling, howling and barking at them while pinned under a table.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • Baxter falls in love with Carmen during series 2 and embarks on a short, yet passionate summer romance with her amid the drug dealing and money laundering. Both are left emotionally devastated when Baxter is forced to flee Ibiza and never see her again.
    • And again in the finale. He accidentally shoots Carmen in the face, killing her when he's startled by the homeless South African kid.