I hadn’t heard of the TV programme Mongrels, but when I plucked it out from one of the aisles during a casual shopping trip around HMV I thought it would be worth a try. Admittedly, it was because the cover possessed a furry fox character and I assumed my younger brother would enjoy it (as well as the little kid within me, of course).
However, upon watching the British puppet-based show I realised that the 15 certificate DVD probably wasn’t most appropriate for my 12 year old sibling. As a black comedy, the BBC production is aimed at an adult audience, with recurring elements of slapstick, satire and cannibalism. It contains some scenes of a sexual nature and violence, so I kept the DVD to myself, understandably.
Mongrels was created and directed by Adam Miller and was first broadcast on BBC Three in 2010. The series is based at the back of a pub in London, and follows the lives of the five animals who occupy said habitat. Main character Nelson is a charming metrosexual fox that has a crush on snobby Afghan hound Destiny, who certainly doesn’t reciprocate the affection. Marion the stray cat has been abandoned by multiple owners and isn’t the most fortunate of animals, and Kali is a vindictive pigeon hell-bent on getting revenge on mankind for mistreating her species. Finally, violent potty-mouthed fox Vince is an intimidating predator who swears a ridiculous amount.
Without a doubt, Nelson (voiced by Rufus Jones) and Kali (voiced by Katy Brand) are my favourite characters. Although completely contrasting in personalities, they are both incredibly entertaining and likeable in their own way. Kali’s straight talk and serious attitude is supplemented by her trademark cackle and amusing habit of voicing her evil plans aloud, whilst Nelson is just undoubtedly loveable. Being overtly geeky and slightly feminine, the kind-hearted fox with a penchant for board games holds a firm status in the neighbourhood as a low-ranking male, so is constantly struggling to prove himself. Personally, I think that these two contribute the most comedy to the series and are truly hilarious personas.
To be frank, upon the first viewing of Mongrels I was startled and bemused by the blunt comedy. Call me sensitive, but I don’t find the references to dead individuals that are sprinkled throughout the episodes even remotely funny. Also, some jokes are long-drawn out which gets very tedious, and ruins the comedic value as it is just too repetitive.
It is worth mentioning that Mongrels contains celebrity cameos (from Toby Anstis, Christopher Biggins and Jeff Brazier amongst others) and humorous songs; both elements are thoroughly entertaining and didn’t fail to make me chuckle.
Conclusively, Mongrels is refreshing, entertaining and very different, with sharp scripts and clever puppetry. However, if you are strongly against farce then it won’t be to your taste. Also, don’t be fooled by childish DVD cover – it really isn’t suitable for kids!