Follow TV Tropes


Series / Mongrels

Go To
"It's a puppet show... for adults."
"They may be furry, they may be feathered, they may be feral, but scratch their hairy surfaces and they're just a group of messed-up little creatures struggling with life, love, dreams and what happens when your Parisian pen-friend turns up with a chronic case of rabies."
—Official Series 1 DVD Blurb

Mongrels is a BBC Three production that started airing in 2010, which is, as it says in the ads, 'a puppet show for adults'. It was created by Adam Miller, who claims he wants 'to do for puppetry what American shows like The Simpsons have done for animation'.

Set in Millwall, on the Isle of Dogs in London's East End, the show follows the misadventures of five animals who congregate behind the bins of The Lord Nelson pub. The protagonist is Nelson, a fox who lives a metrosexual middle-class lifestyle despite being a wild animal. He has a massive crush on Destiny, a self-absorbed and pretentious Afghan hound and pet to the pub's landlord, Gary - but Destiny has absolutely no interest in Nelson whatsoever. Best friend to Nelson is Marion, a good-hearted but idiotic cat who's been abandoned by a lot of owners and views Nelson as a father figure. Rounding out the cast is Kali, a spiteful and sarcastic pigeon who is quick to dole out revenge for the slightest wrong against her, and Nelson's "friend" Vince, a violent, foul-mouthed sociopath who considers himself a "proper ***ing fox".

The show's first season ran for eight episodes from June through August 2010, and the second season of nine episodes began with a double bill on the 7th of November 2011. It was not renewed for a third season.

There were some controversial claims that it was plagiarizing the Channel 4 programme Pets, but those have pretty much been found to be without basis as the two shows don't really share much beyond a broadly similar concept and a few shared backroom staff.

The pitch reel can be seen here. Part 1 of the pilot can be seen here. Part 2 can be seen here.

Now has a recap page

Mongrels contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Vince has eaten at least five of his kits and caused another one to become roadkill.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Destiny.
  • All Just a Dream: Used twice in the final episode of series one and subverted just as quickly when the dreams are shown to be about things that actually happened.
  • And I Must Scream: The Guide Dog at the end of episode 3.
  • Animal Talk: Why Nelson couldn't talk to the humans on Springwatch.
    • Though strangely a number of celebrities in the cutaway scenes seem to understand the animals.
    • Deconstructed when No human character can understand the animals, and the animals understand their roles in the food chain. For example; the animals decide to attack the humans as part of a protest... only for the humans to defeat and kill them with ease because the animals are just a composition of woodland and urban creatures, while the humans are adults. In other cases; the animals are amoral and will hunt each other or have indiscriminate sex.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology: None of the foxes or dogs ever experience a coital tie when mating.
    • When the tortoise uses a dog whistle to get Destiny's attention, none of the other characters can hear it. Cats and foxes can both hear higher pitches than dogs - if she could hear it, they could.
  • Artistic Licence Medicine: In Destiny's song 'Ugly Women Are Beautiful Too,' one of the lyrics refers to her fat friend having a thyroid gland that's "clearly over-active." An overactive thyroid would actually make you thin - it's an under-active thyroid that makes you fat.
  • Ascended Extra: Season 2 saw some background characters getting some characterisation and more speaking roles.
  • Ax-Crazy: Vince is a violent fox who freely murders and beats people.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Nelson and poor grammar, see here.
    • Also, Vince if anyone ever so much as insinuates that he may be a c***, or insults his mother.
      • However, if this lovely song is anything to go by, Vince is perfectly fine calling HIMSELF the c-word, doing so at the start and end of the song.
    • Another berserk button for Vince is chickens. And yes, he sings all about it right here.
    • Comparing Morgan Freeman Lamb to Laurence Fishburne is sure to piss him off, and if a certain Cutaway Gag is anything to go by, in-universe, the real Morgan Freeman does not like being told he's using the wrong pronunciation.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Destiny somewhat fits the bill, though she's not very good at the 'pretending to be nice' part.
  • Black Comedy:
    • Literally, Vince Eats Babies (the first time his own) in at least two episodes.
    • Seemingly averted in the episode where Nelson marries his sister:
      Marion: (after Nelson's wife dies) Sorry about the ah, kids.
      Nelson: No, turns out it's impossible to get pregnant if she penetrates you.
    • But played straight less than a minute later when Destiny uses powder on her fleas:
  • Black Comedy Rape: When Vince and his bride-to-be first met, she "felt an instant spark". Namely, he tased her, then raped her while she was unconscious.
    • Vince has threatened to rape Nelson a few times, and it's implied he has done so in the past. This is treated as if it were humorous.
  • British Brevity: Though at eight episodes a series it's over by two episodes as opposed to the usual six but under US season lengths by a lot.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Nelson marries his sister in episode six.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: The show has one Once an Episode. Subverted once though, when Nelson attempts to sing a love song to Destiny and she walks off as the number begins.
  • Camp Straight: Nelson, kind of. And particularly Destiny's "gay best friend" (who is neither).
  • Cartwright Curse: Nelson's lovers seem to have rather short life expectancies (probably to ensure he's back to pining for Destiny by the next episode). The chicken in the first episode turned out to be psycho, head cut off; his sister was squashed by an overweight Kali; Vince's mother had a heart attack when Nelson proposed; Destiny's double was killed by the real one for stabbing her guy of the week.
  • Cat Up a Tree: Lampshaded by Marion:
    Marion:I'm a cat stuck up a tree, I'm such a cliché.
    • In Season 2 Episode 5, Kali wonders if a plot about Nelson's lost vegetables is a good way to "start it this week".
  • Catchphrase:
    Vince:"Did you just call me a c***?"
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Parodied in the third episode
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Vince, although censored.
  • Conspiracy Theorist:
    Partially-Seen Familiar-Sounding Fox: 6 Million Dead! Not a single gas chamber!
    Nelson: Yes, yes. Alright, Basil. Look! A gray heron!
    (Nelson flees)
  • Couch Gag: Every episode (much in the vein of King of the Hill) has a soundbite played over the production date after the credits.
  • Country Matters: Vince's favorite word.
  • Crapsack World: Best summarized in Nelson's "Estate Agent's Song", where he goes to great pains to claim that Millwall isn't a rough place to live, even while robberies, domestic arguments and drive-by shootings are going on right behind him.
  • Cutaway Gag: Lots and rather frequently. Not that that's a bad thing of course.
  • Cute Kitten: Subverted with Marion, and parodied with his barely legal girlfriend.
    • Played straight with Marion's young son in "Nelson and the Human". He is cute enough that Nelson chooses him as a gift for Neil the human to give to the girl he's pursuing.
  • Cyanide Pill: The foxhunting beagles end up committing suicide that way.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Rob compulsively masturbates when stressed, which isn't a good trait in a performing chimp.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kali, and sometimes Nelson and Destiny.
  • Deadly Doctor: A badger attends to the medical needs of the surrounding animals. His method of testing for rabies is to inject some of the subject's blood into a guinea pig and wait to see if it dies.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Possibly Marion, especially after offering a circle stroke to Nelson, and later in the episode looking forward to being gang stroked, not to mention what he did with the scare(lesbian)crow at the end, and the Cutaway Gag with George Best.
    • And Vince claimed that the "circle stroke" was only the second gayest thing he'd seen Nelson (aka the "Divine Miss Vulpine") do in the last 10 days.note  Though Nelson's also the least depraved member of the cast, so he'd just be bi.
    • Archie the stud Afghan hound, how he got rabies
    • Vince is generally just depraved, though in episode 7 he threatened to bum Nelson to death if he messed up his territory. He also apparently regularly rapes the male cat in his territory.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Double subverted in episode 10. Basically, a cyclist runs over Kali's dinner (a badger, if you're interested), and she swears to get revenge upon him. She builds it up to be something huge and then... it turns out that she merely crapped on his seat. However, about five seconds later, the bicycle explodes - it turns out that Kali had planted a bomb there all along.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Does this a lot, though not in a very subtle way.
    • Lampshaded/parodied in Episode 3, with petting as an equivalent of sex.
      Nelson: We are being stroked day in, day out, whether we consent to it or not! How could it be any worse?!
      Marion: Well, we could literally be being forced into having sex with people.
      Nelson: Oh, that's right, you just blow the whole subtext!
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Parodied in episode 9 - after Destiny is brushed off by a dog she fancies, she starts hitting him and generally treating him like crap... and it works. It even ends up being the topic of that episode's song.
  • Dropped A Pigeon On Her: At the end of episode 6, Sandra (Nelson's sister/wife) runs away. As she does so, an incredibly overweight Kali is dropped out of the window, and ends up killing her.
  • Dude He's Like In A Coma: Destiny becomes... attached to Vince when he's knocked unconscious in episode seven.
  • Easy Evangelism: Deano the dove in the second episode manages to convert Marion and Vince to Christianity with little trouble.
  • Enfant Terrible: Vince's first evil act was shooting his grandmother for her pension book.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Vince certainly acts like a puppy dog around his... until someone insults her
    • Kali also went nuts on Harry Hill for killing her mom on tv.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kali's boyfriend and mother, both killed by people.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Vince might be an unrepentant racist, thief, murderer, and rapist, who assaults and mutilates other animals for kicks, but he draws the line at joining the BNP, as hypocritical as it sounds.
    • Also, Kali actually cried for a man that she killed, when it was revealed he had a pregnant wife and child.
  • Fake Band: Vermin, a group of random animals who always play the songs in every episode.
  • Fantastic Racism: Vince is racist against chickens. He even sings an upbeat song about how much they suck.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Inverted - Destiny is a female dog, and Marion is a male cat.
  • Flock of Wolves: Sneaking into an office, Nelson dresses up as a human in a moment of desperation to hide from an oncoming office worker, who turns out to be Tim the Badger...also dressed up as a human.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: Here.
  • Fox-Chicken-Grain Puzzle: In the first episode where Nelson takes Wendy (a chicken) on a date, 'wins' a bag of grain then takes her to a lake where a sign says "Two Occupants per Boat" and gives a tired look to camera.
    • Nelson "solves" it by throwing the grain at the boat owner's head, knocking him out.
  • Funny Animal: Yes and yes.
  • Furry Reminder: Not frequently as the characters are usually played close to their species' traits but happens to Nelson and Destiny on occasion.
  • Genius Bonus combined with Punny Name: "Kali Pigeon" = "Callipygian" (which means having a nice ass).
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: The song "Everybody loves a Lesbian"
  • Gold Digger: In the episode "Nelson and the Human", Destiny marries an old, mean-spirited and half-blind dog for his squeaky toy pig.
  • The Grim Reaper: Makes an appearance in Episode 3.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: Both Destiny and Kali seem very interested in what happened between Nelson and Vince when they were stuck on the island.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Vince.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Almost the second Marion's underage girlfriend Lollipop comes of age (four weeks old) he proceeds to make out with her while Destiny, Nelson, and Kali all tilt their heads.
    Nelson: Is it just me, or is that technically legal, yet still really very creepy?
    Destiny: Still creepy.
    Kali: Oh, yeah!
  • Helping Granny Cross the Street: Nelson the Fox helps an elderly chicken across the street. He takes the time to also ask the question of "Why did the chicken cross the road?"note 
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Kali.
  • High on Catnip: Marion is introduced to catnip at a nightclub in the second episode of series 1.
    Male cat: Go on, Marion! Just try it!
    Female cat: Don’t be such a square, man! It’s only a bit of catnip!
    Marion: Guys, I don’t never mess with that stuff. It screws you up. And nothing anyone can say will eeeeever change my mind!
    Male cat: All the cool cats do it!
    Cue intense drug-crazed dancing time lapse
  • Hollywood Tourette's: Vince claims such in the second episode of series 2 except when singing karaoke.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Not that the animals (except maybe Nelson) are any better.
  • Identical Stranger: Nita to Destiny in "Kali and the Urinary Infection".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episodes so far have the pattern "<character> the <adjective>" i.e. Kali the Genetic Engineer or Marion the Superfluous Feed Character.
  • Imagine Spot: Used liberally
  • Interspecies Romance: A lot. Nelson is chasing after Destiny, in the first episode Nelson got involved with a chicken, Kali once almost got involved with a female crow, Kali's attempts to breed the "pigeox", and what Destiny did with Vince while he was in a coma.
  • Jailbait Wait: In one episode; Marion gets a girlfriend called "Lollipop", who is a 3-week old kitten, nobody supports this relationship and are rightly disgusted by it. Eventually, the couple decide to wait until Lollipop reaches 4 weeks old to have sex. When Lollipop does finally reach the age of consent and the two can finally have sex legally... everyone is still disgusted by it due to the significant age gap between Lollipop and Marion, especially since Lollipop was still underage a few seconds ago.
  • Jerkass: Everyone at some point or another - the most consistent Jerkasses are Destiny, Kali and Vince. This can sometimes be taken even further based on Rule of Funny.
  • Just Following Orders: One of the hunting beagles invokes this defence when Nelson confronts them for killing foxes. However, when questioned further, he admits that they probably wouldn't have been punished if they'd refused to hunt.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Kali and Destiny have many characteristics of the "chav" stereotype.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: More often than not for the songs. Examples include Nelson's "Breaking Up Is Such a Faff", a Meat Loaf-style power ballad about how he hates his wife but is too lazy to divorce her, and Rob's sensitive ballad about wanting to murder Justin Bieber.
  • Malaproper: During a Cutaway Gag, Morgan Freeman is shown to be prone to these including "Nelson Mandola," and the Cumberbatch-esque "peng-wines."
  • Mama Bear: Little Lollipop's mother shows up when Marion is making the moves on her underage daughter. The next time we see Marion, he's wearing bandages around his crotch. (Fridge Logic sets in when you consider that he actually got castrated in the first episode.)
  • May–December Romance: Nelson with Vince's mother.
    Nelson: Before we start, do you have any brittle bones I should know about?
    Eileen: No. (they proceed to get dirty)
  • Medium Awareness: Destiny finds a treasure map and says she's going to search for treasure, but is taken off by her owner before she can. Nelson turns to the camera and says, "Shame, sounds like it would've made a good storyline."
  • Mercy Kill/Dying as Yourself: Parodied in the Rabies episode when Nelson asks Marion to kill him if he goes mad but Marion's a bit too keen to kill.
    • In Season 2, a terminally ill beagle asks Nelson to mercy kill him. Surprisingly, Nelson actually succeeds.
  • Murder-Suicide: In the ending of "Nelson and the Human", Nelson's romantic comedy-inspired attempts to pair Neil up with the woman he's stalking ends with Neil killing the woman, her boyfriend, and himself.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: "Oh crap, I'm part of the problem..."
    • Also when Kali kills a delivery boy with a bomb and experiences genuine remorse when she finds out he had a family.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: It's probably not a coincidence that Kali is named for the Hindu goddess of destruction.
  • Narcissist: Destiny falls in love with the smell of her own ass.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Apparently foxhunting beagles, even if they were just following orders, according to them.
  • Negative Continuity: In the final episode of season 1, Destiny dies, yet in season 2 she's alive and well once again.
    • She doesn't conclusively die. She flatlines, and Marion is seen trying to revive her as the credits roll. Since she appears in the next series, we must conclude that he succeeded.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Parodied in the Season 2 finale, with a montage of all the characters who have died on the show.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Completely and utterly averted with a few C-list celebrities appearing as themselves.
    • Played straight with Morgan Freeman Lamb, a lamb that talks like Morgan Freeman.
  • Non-Indicative Title: None of the main characters are actually mongrels.
    • The episode "Kali and the Urinary Infection" is about pretty much everything other than the aforementioned illness. This gets lampshaded.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Mainly Played for Laughs and appear on quite a few female characters but averted for birds whose the lack of external genitalia is a plot point for an episode.
  • One-Shot Character: Lollipop is central to Marion's story in episode three, but is never seen again after this (although her puppet gets recycled in episode eight)
    • Sandra as well, though her disappearance makes sense because she was killed at the end of the episode.
  • One-Word Title
  • Orphaned Punchline: "...and nailed it to her face!"
  • Overly-Long Gag: When Nelson's French pen pal comes to stay, he goes through a lot of thinking noises before comes up with the English word he wants. Lampshaded by Marion.
  • Pink Is Erotic: Archie, one of Destiny's many lovers, has his ears dyed pink and it's revealed that he's actually a prostitute that Gary hired in an effort to make Destiny pregnant.
  • Product Placement: Parodied in S2E5 when Vince shoves a bottle of his "Cillit C***" kitchen spray right in front of the camera.
  • Racist Grandma: With Nelson and an elderly chicken.
    "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
    "There was a black man coming and I was afraid he might mug me."
  • Read the Fine Print: Nelson mistakes the intention of one of those "Adopt an endangered animal" campaigns and when explained exactly what it actually meant he comments that he should know better by now. Cue cutaway to Nelson agreeing to an iTunes update EULA and the Grim Reaper demanding his firstborn.
  • Refuge in Audacity: 98% of all jokes will hide in the refuge and never come out.
  • Repressed Memories: Nelson of his grandfather getting torn apart by beagles.
  • Retirony: Barney the police horse had only one day left before being put out to pasture. Then Vince cut him up.
  • Reused Character Design: Several puppets external to the main cast get re-used in different roles, either as a One-Shot Character or as extras. This is probably down to budgeting, mind.
  • Rule of Three: In one bit during Series 2 Episode 9, they take a moment to pay their respects to animals that have died over the course of the series. Vince comes up three times successively.
  • Running Gag: Kali not thinking things through. For example, in episode 6, she makes a protest against the way humans treat pigeons, and thus she decides to sacrifice herself by throwing herself onto some pigeon spikes that have been set up. Immediately afterwards she realises that this is exactly what they would have wanted her to do...
  • Sadist Show
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Nelson is the Sensitive Guy to Vince's Manly Man.
  • Shout-Out: The second episode in season two has Nelson and Marion as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead. Also, name of the Richard O'Brien-voiced dog doing the "Time Warp" parody was Riff Raff.
  • Situational Sexuality: Whatever happened between Nelson and Vince when stuck on that traffic island, it's not something to be mentioned in Vince's wedding speech.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Zig-zagged throughout the series. Most consistently done with Vince's favorite word.
  • Stalker Shrine: In "Nelson and the Human", Neil has one for the blonde girl, including a half-eaten biscuit she's bitten. It also turns out that Nelson has one of Destiny.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Nelson is one to Destiny to various extents, from being more like a Dogged Nice Guy to being especially creepy like when it's revealed he keeps track of her ovulation cycles.
  • Stalking Is Love: Used in-universe in the episode "Kali and the Psychological Warfare": Nelson considers Neil's obsession to be the stuff of romantic comedy and tries to get Neil and the girl together. It doesn't end well.
  • Status Quo Is God: Almost played literally straight as in the first episode Marion is neutered the next episode he is told that if he converts to Christianity Jesus himself will sew his testicles back on with golden thread.
    • Though characters that change Nelson's life significantly have a way of dying before the episode is over: Kieran (adopted son), the pigeox (biological offspring), Sandra (wife/sister), Vince's mother (Fiancee), and Nita (his one-shot girlfriend).
  • Subverted Kids' Show: Played straight if you feel puppetry is something that can only appeal to kids otherwise there's little analogous to a kids show besides puppets.
  • Suicide as Comedy: In the pilot episode, there was another character called Debbie. She was a suicidal chicken who was always considering ways in which she might kill herself. The producers decided that the character wasn't deep enough for a full series, and thus she was axed.
  • Take That!:
    • —>Kali: You can achieve a hell of a lot in life without any testicles!
      (cut to concert)
      Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Bublé!
    • Quantum of Solace gets one when Nelson tries to picture himself in "the iconic scene" from that film. He ends up remembering the card game from Casino Royale (2006) instead.
  • Training Montage: Spoofed in episode three:
    Destiny: This isn't a training montage, it's a trip to the opticians set to music!
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Presumably the subject of Nelson's erotic short story.
  • Unrequited Love: Nelson/Destiny.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Marion's Siamese "wife" turns out to be a neutered tomcat.
  • Villainous BSoD: Kali, of all characters, goes through one after killing a delivery boy, that had a family.
  • Villain Song:
    • Vince gets one in "Vince and the C***s Speech", singing about how much of a "c***" he is.
    • Parodied in "Kali and the Rickshaw Inferno". The episode's song is sung by the leader of the "zombies", but he spends the entire song trying to clarify that they're not really zombies as the mongrels beat him and the others to death.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Subverted when a beagle with lung cancer asks Nelson for a Mercy Kill and he tries smothering with a pillow. It takes a massive pile of pillows to kill him.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The Series 2 finale.
    Marion: It would seem, that we got drunk, and fell asleep in a rubbish barge, on the Thames.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Nelson, also known as The Divine Miss Vulpine.
    • Though exactly how wholesome is an open question. When asked about it in an online Q&A Nelson got a bit defensive.
      Nelson: Basically, right, I did it one time, for a laugh, for a couple of mates. Next thing you know, I'm being asked to do corporate events, private functions, hotel visits...Look, I was young, I was naïve, it was Blair's Britain! The boom years! Things were different back then! I mean, 'let he cast the first stone who hasn't dressed up as a woman and performed a private burlesque show for a lonely Taiwanese fund manager!' Right?
  • X Days Since: Episode four has a petting zoo whose sign is "days free of E.Coli 3", then later someone altering the sign to zero.
  • Yandere: Nita in "Kali and the Urinary Infection" obsesses over Nelson and gets downright murderous towards anyone who might possibly be a rival for his affections.
  • You No Take Candle: Subverted. Nelson uses this to communicate with Rob the chimpanzee when they first meet, leading Rob to think that Nelson doesn't know normal English and respond in the same way.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Parodied in one episode, only instead of "zombies", read "male dogs driven crazy by Destiny's pheromones".