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Mongrels is a BBC Three production that started airing in 2010, which is, as it says in the ads, 'a puppet show for adults'. Indeed, the show does revolve around five puppet animals who hang out in the back of an inner city pub.
It was created by Adam Miller, who claims he wants 'to do for puppetry what American shows like The Simpsons have done for animation'. The show's first season ran for eight episodes from June through August 2010, and the second season of nine episodes began with a double bill on the 7th of November 2011. It was not renewed for a third season.
There were some controversial claims that it was plagiarizing the Channel4 programme Pets, but those have pretty much been found to be without basis as the two shows don't really share much beyond a broadly similar concept and a few shared backroom staff.
Mongrels contains examples of:
- Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Parodied in episode 9 - after Destiny is brushed off by a dog she fancies, she starts hitting him and generally treating him like crap... and it works. It even ends up being the topic of that episode's song.
- Abusive Parents: Vince has eaten at least five of his kits and caused another one to become roadkill.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Destiny.
- All Just a Dream: Used twice in the final episode of series one and subverted just as quickly when the dreams are shown to be about things that actually happened.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Apparently foxhunting beagles, even if they were just following orders, according to them.
- Animal Talk: Why Nelson couldn't talk to the humans on Springwatch.
- Though strangely a number of celebrities in the cutaway scenes seem to understand the animals.
- Axe Crazy: Vince
- Ascended Extra: Season 2 saw some background characters getting some characterisation and more speaking role.
- Berserk Button: Nelson and poor grammar, see here. Also, Vince if anyone ever so much as insinuates that he may be a c***, or insults his mother.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Destiny somewhat fits the bill, though she's not very good at the 'pretending to be nice' part.
- British Brevity: Though at eight episodes a series it's over by two episodes as opposed to the usual six but under US season lengths by a lot.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Nelson marries his sister in episode six.
- Busby Berkeley Number: The show has one Once an Episode. Subverted once though, when Nelson attempts to sing a love song to Destiny and she walks off as the number begins.
Nelson:"But...it's this week's song!"
- Camp Straight: Nelson, kind of. And particularly Destiny's "gay best friend" (who is neither).
- Cartwright Curse: Nelson's lovers seem to have rather short life expectancies (probably to ensure he's back to pining for Destiny by the next episode). The chicken in the first episode turned out to be psycho, head cut off; his sister was squashed by an overweight Kali; Vince's mother had a heart attack when Nelson proposed; Destiny's double was killed by the real one for stabbing her guy of the week.
- Cat Up a Tree: Lampshaded by Marion:
Marion:"I'm a cat stuck up a tree, I'm such a cliché."
- In Season 2 Episode 5, Kali wonders if a plot about Nelson's lost vegetables is a good way to "start it this week".
- Catch Phrase:
Vince:"Did you just call me a c***?"
- Cats Have Nine Lives: Parodied in the third episode
- Cluster F-Bomb: Vince, although censored.
- Conspiracy Theorist:
Partially-Seen Familiar-Sounding Fox: 6 Million Dead! Not a single gas chamber!Nelson: Yes. Yes. Alright, Basil Look! a gray heron!
- Couch Gag: Every episode (much in the vein of King of the Hill) has a soundbite played over the production date after the credits.
- Country Matters: Vince's favorite word.
- Crapsack World
- Cutaway Gag: Lots and rather frequently.
- Cute Kitten: Subverted with Marion, and parodied with his barely legal girlfriend.
- Cyanide Pill: The foxhunting beagles end up committing suicide that way.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Rob compulsively masturbates when stressed, which isn't a good trait in a performing chimp.
- Dead Baby Comedy:
- Literally, Vince Eats Babies (the first time his own) in at least two episodes.
- Seemingly averted in the episode where Nelson marries his sister:
(After Nelson's wife dies) Marion: Sorry about the ah, kids.
Nelson: No, turns out it's impossible to get pregnant if she penetrates you.
- But played straight less than a minute later when Destiny uses powder on her fleas:
Flea: "MY BABY! SHE'S MELTING! I'M CRADLING A MELTING FLEA BABY, AAAAHHHHHH!"
- Deadpan Snarker: Kali, and sometimes Nelson and Destiny.
- Deadly Doctor: Tim the German Badger attends to the medical needs of the surrounding animals. He also appears to be a Serial Killer.
- Depraved Bisexual: Possibly Marion, especially after offering a circle stroke to Nelson, and later in the episode looking forward to being gang stroked, not to mention what he did with the scare(lesbian)crow at the end, and the Cutaway Gag with George Best.
- And Vince claimed that the "circle stroke" was only the second gayest thing he'd seen Nelson (aka the "Divine Miss Vulpine") do in the last 10 days. Though Nelson's also the least depraved member of the cast, so he'd just be bi.
- Archie the stud Afghan hound, how he got rabies
- Vince is generally just depraved, though in episode 7 he threatened to bum Nelson to death if he messed up his territory. He also apparently regularly rapes the male cat in his territory.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Double subverted in episode 10. Basically, a cyclist runs over Kali's dinner (a badger, if you're interested), and she swears to get revenge upon him. She builds it up to be something huge and then... it turns out that she merely crapped on his seat. However, about five seconds later, the bicycle explodes - it turns out that Kali had planted a bomb there all along.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Does this a lot, though not in a very subtle way.
- Lampshaded/parodied in Episode 3, with petting as an equivalent of sex.
Nelson: We are being stroked day in, day out, whether we consent to it or not! How could it be any worse?!
Marion: Well, we could literally be being forced into having sex with people.
Nelson: Oh, that's right, you just blow the whole subtext!
- Dropped A Pigeon On Her: At the end of episode 6, Sandra (Nelson's sister/wife) runs away. As she does so, an incredibly overweight Kali is dropped out of the window, and ends up killing her.
- Dude He's Like In A Coma: Destiny becomes... attached to Vince when he's knocked unconscious in episode seven.
- Easy Evangelism: Deano the dove in the second episode manages to convert Marion and Vince to Christianity with little trouble.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Vince certainly acts like a puppydog around his...until someone insults her
- Even Evil Has Standards: Vince draws the line at joining the BNP.
- Fake Band: Vermin, a group of random animals who always play the songs in every episode.
- Female Feline, Male Mutt: Inverted - Destiny is a female dog, and Marion is a male cat.
- Flock of Wolves: Sneaking into an office, Nelson dresses up as a human in a moment of desperation to hide from an oncoming office worker, who turns out to be Tim the Badger...also dressed up as a human.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot: here.
- Fox Chicken Grain Puzzle: In the first episode where Nelson takes Wendy (a chicken) on a date, 'wins' a bag of grain then takes her to a lake where a sign says "Two Occupants per Boat" and gives a tired look to camera.
- Funny Animal: Yes and yes.
- Furry Reminder: Not frequently as the characters are usually played close to their species' traits but happens to Nelson and Destiny on occasion.
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: The song "Everybody loves a Lesbian"
- Gold Digger: In the episode "Nelson and the Human", Destiny marries an old, mean-spirited and half-blind dog for his squeaky toy pig.
- Guy-On-Guy Is Hot: Kali seems very interested in what happened between Nelson and Vince when they were stuck on the island.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Vince
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Kali
- Hollywood Tourettes: Vince claims such in the second episode of series 2 except when singing karaoke.
- Humans Are Bastards: Not that the animals (except maybe Nelson) are any better.
- The Grim Reaper: Makes an appearance in Episode 3.
- Identical Stranger: Nita to Destiny in "Kali and the Urinary Infection".
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episodes so far have the pattern "<character> the <adjective>" i.e. Kali the Genetic Engineer or Marion the Superfluous Feed Character.
- Imagine Spot: Used liberally
- Interspecies Romance: A lot. Nelson is chasing after Destiny, in the first episode Nelson got involved with a chicken, Kali once almost got involved with a female crow, Kali's attempts to breed the "pigeox", and what Destiny did with Vince while he was in a coma.
- Jail Bait Wait: Part of the third episode revolves around this.
- Jerkass: Pretty much everyone at some point or another - the most consistent Jerkasses are Destiny, Kali and Vince. This can sometimes be taken even further based on Rule of Funny.
- Lyrical Dissonance: More often than not for the songs. Examples include Nelson's "Breaking Up Is Such a Faff", a Meat Loaf-style power ballad about how he hates his wife but is too lazy to divorce her, and Rob's sensitive ballad about wanting to murder Justin Bieber.
- May-December Romance: Nelson with Vince's mother.
Nelson: "Before we start, do you have any brittle bones I should know about?"
Eileen: "No." (They proceed to get dirty)
- Medium Awareness: Destiny finds a treasure map and says she's going to search for treasure, but is taken off by her owner before she can. Nelson turns to the camera and says, "Shame, sounds like it would've made a good storyline."
- Mercy Kill / Dying as Yourself: Parodied in the Rabies episode when Nelson asks Marion to kill him if he goes mad but Marion's a bit too keen to kill.
- In Season 2, a terminally ill beagle asks Nelson to mercy kill him. Surprisingly, Nelson actually succeeds.
- Money, Dear Boy: Eamonn Holmes admits he didn't look at the script before agreeing to appear, just the fee (though that is pretty standard for Holmes as he'd be the first to admit!)
- My God, What Have I Done?: "Oh god, I'm part of the problem..."
- Also when Kali kills a delivery boy with a bomb and experiences genuine remorse when she finds out he had a family.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: It's probably not a coincidence that Kali is named for the Hindu goddess of destruction.
- Negative Continuity: In the final episode of season 1, Destiny dies, yet in season 2 she's alive and well once again.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Completely and utterly averted with a few C-list celebrities appearing as themselves.
- Non Indicative Title: None of the main characters are actually mongrels.
- The episode "Kali and the Urinary Infection" is about pretty much everything other than the aforementioned illness. This gets lampshaded.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Mainly Played for Laughs and appear on quite a few female characters but averted for birds whose the lack of external genitalia is a plot point for an episode.
- One-Shot Character: Buttercup is central to Marion's story in episode three, but is never seen again after this (although her puppet gets recycled in episode eight)
- Sandra as well, though her disappearance makes sense because she was killed at the end of the epsiode.
- Orphaned Punchline: "...and nailed it to her face!"
- Overly Long Gag: When Nelson's French pen pal comes to stay, he goes through a lot of thinking noises before comes up with the English word he wants. Lampshaded by Marion.
- Racist Grandma: With Nelson and an Elderly chicken.
"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"There was a black man coming and I was afraid he might mug me."
- Read the Fine Print: Nelson mistakes the intention of one of those "Adopt an endangered animal" campaigns and when explained exactly what it actually meant he comments that he should know better by now. Cue cutaway to Nelson agreeing to an iTunes update EULA and the Grim Reaper demanding his first born.
- Refuge in Audacity / Refuge in Vulgarity: 98% of all jokes will hide in the refuge and never come out.
- Repressed Memories: Nelson of his grandfather getting torn apart by beagles.
- Running Gag: Kali not thinking things through. For example, in episode 6, she makes a protest against the way humans treat pigeons, and thus she decides to sacrifice herself by throwing herself onto some pigeon spikes that have been set up. Immediately afterwards she realises that this is exactly what they would have wanted her to do...
- Marion making a statement, then adding the complete opposite of that statement behind his hand. Example: "To be or not to be, that is the question." *behind hand* "That is not the question."
- Sadist Show
- Shout-Out: The second episode in season two has Nelson and Marion as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead. Also, name of the Richard O'Brien-voiced dog doing the Time Warp parody was Riff Raff.
- Marion was once flatmates with a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost.
- Situational Sexuality: Whatever happened between Nelson and Vince when stuck on that traffic island, it's not something to be mentioned in Vince's wedding speech.
- Stalker Shrine: In "Nelson and the Human", Neil has one for the blonde girl, including a half-eaten biscuit she's bitten. It also turns out that Nelson has one of Destiny.
- Stalker with a Crush: Nelson is one to Destiny to various extents, from being more like a Dogged Nice Guy to being especially creepy like when it's revealed he keeps track of her ovulation cycles.
- Stalking Is Love: Used in-universe in the episode "Nelson and the Human": Nelson considers Neil's obsession to be the stuff of romantic comedy and tries to get Neil and the girl together. It doesn't end well.
- Status Quo Is God: Almost played literally straight as in the first episode Marian is neutered the next episode he is told that if he converts to Christianity Jesus himself will sew his testicles back on with golden thread.
- Though characters that change Nelson's life significantly have a way of dying before the episode is over: Kieran (adopted son), the pigeox (biological offspring) and Sandra (wife/sister) and Vince's mother (Fiancee).
- Subverted Kids Show: Played straight if you feel puppetry is something that can only appeal to kids otherwise there's little analogous to a kids show besides puppets.
- Suicide as Comedy: In the pilot episode, there was another character called Debbie. She was a suicidal chicken who was always considering ways in which she might kill herself. The producers decided that the character wasn't deep enough for a full series, and thus she was axed.
- Take That:
Kali You can acheive a hell of a lot in life without any testicles
(cut to concert)
Announcer Ladies and Gentlemen, Michael Buble!
- Too Soon: Surprisingly for this show, but it was due to unforeseen consequences. During the second season's initial run on BBC Three, episode 5 was skipped over to play the next episodes before it, most likely due to the very recent death of beloved Welsh football manager Gary Speed.
- Training Montage: Spoofed in episode three
Destiny: "This isn't a training montage, it's a trip to the opticians set to music!"
- Twin Threesome Fantasy: Presumably the subject of Nelson's erotic short story.
- Unrequited Love: Nelson/Destiny.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: Marion's Siamese "wife" turns out to be a neutered tomcat.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: The Series 2 finale.
Marion: "It would seem, that we got drunk, and fell asleep in a rubbish barge, on the Thames"
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Nelson, also known as The Divine Miss Vulpine
- X Days Since...: Episode four has a petting zoo whose sign is "days free of E.Coli 3", then later someone altering the sign to zero.
- You Look Familiar: Several puppets external to the main cast get re-used in different roles, either as a One-Shot Character or as extras. This is probably down to budgeting, mind.
- You No Take Candle: Subverted. Nelson uses this to communicate with Rob the chimpanzee when they first meet, leading Rob to think that Nelson doesn't know normal English and respond in the same way.'
- Zombie Apocalypse: Parodied in one episode, only instead of "zombies", read "male dogs driven crazy by Destiny's pheromones".