Because I review a whole tv series rather than individual episodes, there is a chance of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the whole series yet, stop reading now!
No matter what setting you choose for a sitcom or who your characters are, you won’t ever be able to beat the sitcoms set in and around a family. The most successful or memorable are the sitcoms that focus on the family dynamic, Only Fools and Horses being one key example, The Royle Family being another. They probably make double the amount of sitcoms set in and around families than they do elsewhere, which is why the “miss-rate” is much higher for these type of shows.
Moone Boy manages to hit the mark perfectly. It must help that it is auto-biographical and based on Chris O’Dowd’s childhood because it has a perfect mix of realism and relate-ability and is also silly and outrageous.
O’Dowd has managed to write a great family; strong Mum, well-meaning Dad, three sisters with terrifying but distinguishable characteristics and the hero of the show, the young boy, Martin.
The show will either succeed or fail based on how good a character Martin is and luckily, he is fantastic. It’s in no small part to the young boy who plays him, David Rawle, who conveys the sense of wit, cunning and downright naive stupidity that makes the character the funniest person in the show. Martin is our eyes and ears into the show so he had to be good but Rawle manages to make him brilliant.
The best moments in the show all revolve around Martin and his imaginary friend, played by Chris O’Dowd. He works, in the simplest terms, as Martins skewed conscience. The scenes between the two, where Chris O’Dowd’s Sean Murphy (this itself a good running joke) gives Martin (bad) advice, make for some the best in the whole show. Whether its convincing him to destroy a wall at the back of the garden to shorten his route to school or helping him “train” to be altar boy, Sean Murphy helps Martin do the most ridiculous but ultimately hilarious things.
That’s not say there isn’t great humour from the rest of the cast. There is a surreal realism to the whole show, be it the Dads being scared of their children and having to form a “support group” to help each other cope or the Mum’s desperate attempts to introduce “weight wishers” to the Irish town. The family have great individual characters and really funny moments in the show to go with them.
There is also fantastic support in the guest star roles. Steve Coogan is great as “Touchy” Feeley and Johnny Vegas plays rival imaginary friend “Crunchie” Haystacks, with unnerving ease. It’s a testament to Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy, who write the show, that people of that comedy calibre want to star in the show and it’s because it’s a very funny, touching and entertaining show.
Above all others, David Rawle manages to make the show his. He has great comedic timing, a brilliant “chemistry” with Chris O’Dowd and manages to throw himself into some ridiculous but very funny situations. You’d think he’d been acting for ages based on his performances here.
Overall, a very funny, original, sweet and entertaining sitcom. It shows that there is still life in the sitcom set around the “family” but it may just take a touch of the surreal, silly and to be set in Ireland for it to work. Plus, it helps if your child-star is brilliant.
Best Episode – Another Prick in the Wall; Where Martin uses the Berlin Wall to as inspiration to destroy the one at the back of the garden. The dancing at the end is funny enough!
Best performance – David Rawle as Martin Moone
Should there be another season? – Definitely, love Moone Boy and there are so many more stories to tell.
Season Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)