“Ever wanted to be the imaginary friend of an idiot boy living in the west of Ireland? Me neither, but there you go.”
Moone Boy is the story of a young Irish boy, Martin Moone, who has the charming naivete of the kid from Bad Santa and looks like one of the kids in A Christmas Story. Martin (David Rawle) — the youngest child (and only son) of working-class family in Boyle, Ireland — is socially awkward and rather dimwitted, but he makes up for all of that with a great deal of charm. Despite being constantly put down by his older sisters, bullied by classmates, and generally having life spit in his face, Martin is a happy-go-lucky kid with a never-ending fountain of optimism that makes it hard for the audience not to like him (which is good, because no one else seems to). It’s no wonder that he’s held onto his imaginary friend, Sean Murphy (Chris O’Dowd), for so long.
The pilot opens on Martin’s twelfth birthday and gives some pretty good insight to the Moone family: his older sisters don’t care—one pleasantly welcomes Martin home with “‘Mum says you were a mistake”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she did—and it is implied by his surprise at a decent present from his folks that he is used to a life of disappointment at this point. However, his folks do manage to get him a ‘Readymix’ (a cereal brand?) bike from purchasing a countless amount of boxes of the breakfast food that shares the same name and taste as a cement brand.
And then the school bullies, Conner and Jonner Bonner, break it. Of course.
Once Martin’s parents find out, the pilot splits into two storylines: Martin trying to hire a bully’s bully to protect him from the Bonner brothers and Martin’s father, Liam (Peter McDonald), dealing with father Bonner.
After a bit of a discussion with Sean, Martin’s plans to hire the school bully’s bully, Declan Mannion (Stephen Gillic), to protect him. Declan is somewhat like a schoolyard James Dean —he’s cool, tough and a real girls’ man. Which is why the only thing he wants to protect Martin is a feel of one of his sisters’ breasts—whichever one has them. Martin goes through with Declan’s proposition with more than a few hiccups (first of which being picking his Darlene-esque sister, Trisha, for the job), but it all eventually works itself out. The scene (pictured below) where Trisha confronts Declan was the scene that made me decide I was going to watch this series in its entirety.
Meanwhile, Liam grabs himself a hammer and heads over to the Bonner house to give Gerry Bonner a stern talking to, but, things don’t go quite as planned. Gerry confesses to Liam that he hates his children and they are out of control and the two men bond over the fact that they have no power in their households. In some of the funnier scenes of the episode, Liam and the rest of the fathers get together for a sort of “fathers support group” that culminates into Liam taking a stand and grounding everyone (including his wife) in his house. Of course, this puts a damper on Martin’s plan to get Trisha to go on a date with Declan, but, Martin thinks up a new plan to get the Bonner brothers off his back that works for (almost) everyone.
Moone Boy was definitely better than I anticipated and a welcome addition to my watch schedule during the comedy-sparse summer season. People who watch the show for O’Dowd might be initially letdown as he is a more ‘backseat’ imaginary friend (compared to Wilfred’s more active role in his show), but Moone Boy has more than enough charm to make up for it. The only complaint that I have about this show is that the first season is only six episodes. However, a second and third season were already commissioned with the second coming out (on Sky1, anyway) later this year.
- Rating: “A welcome addition.”
- Comment: Moone Boy is charming, funny, and well-written. You’ll come for O’Dowd, but you’ll stay for that Moone boy.
- You might like Moone Boy if you like: Chris O’Dowd, Everybody Hates Chris, Wilfred (if it were less dark and vulgar), Malcolm in the Middle