Mongrels series 2 episode 3 review

It’s another week of swearing puppets and pop culture references, but is Mongrels running out of ideas? Here’s James’ review of episode three…

Another week and another set of lewd and crude antics with our puppet friends in Mongrels. This episode starts with Nelson leading a disastrous protest against a new branch of Tesco being built, where he encounters a feisty older vixen named Eileen.

Despite Eileen being “of an age”, romance is soon in the air. But there’s an obstacle: Vince, who we learn is Eileen’s son. After bonding with Vince, Nelson tells him that he wants to marry Eileen and asks for his blessing. He receives Vince’s blessing, a head-butt, and the threat of something horrible happening to him if he hurts Eileen. Nelson’s surprise proposal causes Eileen to suffer a fatal heart attack. Tim the badger gets his paws on Eileen’s body for a while but it eventually ends up being mistaken for a fox fur stole and is bought by Zoe Ball.

Nelson sets out to retrieve it, but ends up becoming Ball’s stole himself after a mix-up in a cloakroom. Vince discovers that Eileen has died but Nelson’s role in events remains under wraps. This plotline plays with characterisation to interesting effect, as we see Vince being infantilised both by his reliance on Eileen, and by Nelson becoming more of a father figure to him. It’s just a shame that the relationship between Nelson, Vince, and Eileen was ended so abruptly, since it was a great way of temporarily altering the programme’s character dynamics. There are some good moments, though, particularly Eileen’s stories about the old days (Well, 2004), and Nelson’s attempt to a put a stop to the new branch of Tesco.

Also in this episode, Destiny runs away to avoid being taken to the vet’s, and upon her return home, discovers that Gary has adopted Marion and renamed him Frizbee. The two battle for Gary’s affections until Destiny finally decides that if she can’t have him, no one can. She plans to kill him by putting mercury in his tea. Marion stops her by knocking the tea out Gary’s hand, scalding Gary testicles, and getting thrown out of the pub in the process. This plot’s quite an interesting one, as Destiny and Marion are rarely seen together, and it’s refreshing to see them interacting for extended periods of time.

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Meanwhile, Kali’s perch is taken over by a Zimbabwean immigrant. Infuriated with having to nest on a section of broken wall close to the ground, she hatches a series of plots to get rid of him, including trying to blind him with a CD, and trying to scare him away with a model of Robert Mugabe. Eventually, she imitates him and says that Eileen was a slag. Enraged, Vince kills the immigrant and Kali proudly reclaims her perch before realising that she is part of the problem of the Western world, using brute force against Third World countries. As with last week, Kali’s story in this episode goes some way to developing her character as, once again, she realises the consequences of her actions. But then, if it had been an English pigeon, she probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

There’s an interesting change of pace in terms of guest stars this week, as Zoe Ball’s role in the episode actually serves to further the story rather than just appearing in a one-off gag as is usually the case for Mongrels’ guest stars.

The cutaways have seen a mild drop in quality since the last episode. Most of them completely miss the mark, and are simply very boring. Specifically the cutaway of David Schwimmer leaving a message on Jennifer’s Aniston’s answering machine. And the less said about Danny Dyer’s cameo, the better. There are still a couple of good ones in there, but the best jokes in this episode come from the plot-driven moments and character interactions.

Also, the meta-references are starting to get a little bit tiresome, and there’s an exceptionally annoying running gag where a character gives their opinions on a film or TV programme. It just feels like the writer shoehorning his own opinions into the script more than anything else. The only instance where it’s actually amusing is where Marion rants about how awful Date Movie is. But as it’s the third gag of its type in a single episode, it loses some of its comedic potential.

However, this week’s song is definitely a step up from the second episode’s, and manages to get away with some very contentious subject matter (though that’s nothing new, really), with some witty lyrics and an upbeat, jazzy melody. But, as good as it is, it still doesn’t reach lofty of heights of series one’s songs.

On the whole, it’s a good episode, but the series seems to be struggling a little and isn’t yet on a par with series one. And given that the two preview clips for next week’s episode are crammed full of pop culture references and film parodies, I’ll say I’m not overly optimistic about what’s to come.

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You can read our review of Mongrels season two’s opening double bill here.