Mad Dogs from Amazon: dark comedy or flat-out drama?

Ever since I heard a Marc Maron WTF podcast interview with Michael Imperioli back in the spring, I've been greatly looking forward to Mad Dogs, Amazon's first new original series of 2016 (the first episode is now available, with episodes 2 through 10 premiering on Friday, January 22nd, 2016).

Here's the trailer:

A little personal spoiler alert up front is that I'd pretty much watch Michael Imperioli in anything. Sure, Goodfellas is one of my all favorite films, and sure, I constantly go back-and-forth on whether The Sopranos or Mad Men is the greatest TV show of all time, but Imperioli is a factor as to why (especially in the latter case, with no disrespect to my man Spider).

As you might have guessed, Imperioli stars in Mad Dogs along with a sterling cast that includes -- in terms of the pilot at any extent -- Ben Chaplin, Steve Zahn (who retains a place on my Good List from his goofy-tastic role in Saving Silverman), Romany Malco (a standout on Weeds), and Billy Zane. The plot is wonderfully simple: four old friends are summoned to an extravagant mansion in exotic Belize by a fifth friend (Billy Zane) who seems to have suddenly gotten mega-rich under mysterious circumstances. Then... things start to happen. Wild things. Crazy things. Some nice character moments. And yeah, there's some comedy too.

mad dogs

It's fascinating that co-executive producer Shawn Ryan (he of The Shield, The Unit, and Angel fame, among other things) refers to Mad Dogs as a "dark comedy" after watching the pilot episode as I would term as more of a drama with a goodly dose of comedy in it. A subtle distinction, you might say, and perhaps that true. But my opinion comes with the highest of respect as my all time favorite shows, The Sopranos among them, falls directly into that category.

For all of the acclaim that The Sopranos has received, relatively little has been written about its downright quirky point of view, and all of the comedy that it drove out of very human moments, typically having nothing to do with the mafia or criminal activity.

While there are some funny moments in the Mad Dogs pilot, I'd say that it's definitely geared more along those lines then say, a "dark comedy" like the film Very Bad Things, which had a vaguely similar plot as Mad Dogs (four guys head to Vegas, cut to things going sideways), but which in its case wound up being on the whole Just Very Bad.

Perhaps we'll see a tilt more to the comedic side as Mad Dog progresses through its first season (after, shall we say, quite a twist near the end of the pilot episode), but what's also interesting that "comedies" tend to run at 30 minutes while Mad Dogs, at least from the jump, is an hour-long show.

Not that I'm complaining. After one episode I'm very much looking forward to what mad cap adventures Mad Dogs will bring next.

And if you watch the first minute of the pilot alone... then you know what kind of madness is surely coming.

By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

About the author

Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at] 

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