As last week’s first episode established, BBC3’s Mongrels tears into our collective, romanticised view of animals with gleeful savagery. The show’s animals may look as innocent as those of Sesame Street, but they’re anything but cute. In Mongrels, peckish foxes eat their young and dogs engage in lengthy conversations about the merits of bottom sniffing.
An episode of multiple strands, this week’s Mongrels sees overstuffed moggy Marion addicted to catnip, a narcotic substance that, in a brilliant opening scene in a nightclub, has him dance like his tail’s on fire. Meanwhile, cold-hearted pigeon Kali discovers that her long lost friend has discovered God, vacuous canine Destiny sniffs London’s hindquarters in search of a mate, and Nelson the posh fox unwittingly adopts a sickly fox cub whose ailments range from repetitive strain injury to Dane Bowers syndrome.
As was the case last week, Mongrels‘ humour is as scattershot as an arquebus drive-by shooting, but every now and again a joke or visual gag hits its target with wince-inducing accuracy. Foul-mouthed fox Vince has his own collection of obscene one-liners, and while this week’s song-and-dance routine (this one’s about God) doesn’t have the impact of the previous show’s filthy, foxy hoe down, the unexpected appearance of Christopher Biggins is more funny than it might sound, and leads to possibly the funniest line in the whole episode (“Screw you Biggins!”).
In fact, episode two has more than one appearance from a minor celebrity, with Paul Ross proving a good sport in a scene that has him eating from a dustbin while a collection of puppets attempt to recall who he is.
In a nod to Family Guy, Mongrels regularly pokes fun at other television shows, and these live-action sequences often provide the biggest laughs, with a joke at the expense of Hollyoaks, plus a scene which imagines what a remake of Lady And The Tramp would look like if it were directed by Mike Leigh.
Of all the puppets in the Mongrels menagerie, well-meaning fox Nelson is undoubtedly the most watchable, and it could even be argued that a series focusing entirely on Nelson and his sweary cockney friend Vince would make for a series more consistently amusing than this one.
Decadent cat Marion is an entertaining character, but Kali the pigeon and Destiny the dog are less well-rounded, and a little too self-serving and unpleasant to win our sympathy.
Nevertheless, Mongrels makes for fun, undemanding Tuesday night viewing, and it continues to show occasional sparkles of genuine imagination and wit. And while some jokes truly are below the belt (I can only hope Dane Bowers wasn’t watching), they evoke a guilty chortle.
Read our review of episode 1 here.