Amazon has been giving us the really hard sell on its streaming service lately, spending countless advertising dollars promoting Mozart in the Jungle, a show which inexplicably won a Golden Globe, after which Amazon made it available for free this past weekend in an attempt to lure new subscribers.
This was a mistake, because Amazon’s newest show is much, much better — in fact, it’s their best show since Transparent, though it will likely appeal to a broader audience. We suspect Mad Dogs will be one of the most talked-about shows of the year; and will almost certainly invite comparisons to Breaking Bad and Bloodline. Here's why you don't want to miss it:
1. Mad Dogs is not your typical bro show.
I mean, it is, in the sense that it is about a group of dudes doing very dude-like things, but it has none of the vapidness off Entourage or the dumb, man-child jokes of Two And A Half Men. The men of Mad Dogs are realistic, flawed characters with relationships and responsibilities to people other than themselves. And while the show is primarily focused on an urgent crisis the friends are facing together, we meet a mix of well-drawn supporting characters, including a pint-sized hitman, a crooked lady cop, and a hilariously hyper-competent Embassy officer. And a ghost!
2. You’ll barely be able to keep up. In a good way.
While Mad Dogs has plenty of moments of tense stillness, the plot moves forward at a breakneck speed, at times nearly leaving your head spinning. You definitely have to pay attention, but that won't be difficult, since the show keeps you on the edge of your seat from almost the very beginning. The series’ biggest shocker takes place in the very first episode, and from there Mad Dogs is a lethal obstacle course; watching sometimes feels more like you’re playing a video game in living color.
3. Mad Dogs perfectly captures the dangerous beauty of Belize.
If you’ve ever been to Belize, you probably remember feeling a nagging sense of unease; that something menacing was right around the corner. That’s because it probably was: Though it’s teeming with tourists, it has a with a very strong gang/drug trade element. But it’s also a breathtaking paradise, and Mad Dogs’ tremendous cinematography — of the likes we are not used to seeing on television — really shows off Belize’s technicolor beauty. It will make you want to go there, even if it means risking a bullet to your head. (Well, maybe not.)
4. The ensemble cast is a dream team.
It's not easy to find a group of actors who play so seamlessly together, without even a hint of a square peg, but Mad Dogs pulls off the nearly impossible with Steve Zahn (Shattered Glass), Romany Malco (Weeds, The 40 Year-Old Virgin), Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line, The Truth About Cats and Dogs), Michael Imperioli (Christopher from The Sopranos), and Billy Zane (Titanic, Zoolander). Imperioli already showed us he was a heavy-hitter in The Sopranos but his work here will make you wonder why he hasn’t been turned into an A-list movie star since then. Where has he been hiding?
5. Mad Dogs asks some big questions — but doesn’t answer them for you.
At the heart of Mad Dogs is a very slippery moral relativism; in this nightmare in paradise, there are betrayals far worse than murder and a single can of mini-Coke that can turn men into beasts. But even the shittiest behavior is presented in a mildly sympathetic way, suggesting that we, too, should withhold our judgment until we’ve walked in the same shoes. The only vice that Mad Dogs purports to condemn if selfishness; still, without it, many more characters would be dead.