On Thursday, April 24th, new episodes of the excellent comedy series Moone Boy (which originally aired in the U.K. on Sky1) will return to online streaming provider Hulu. Each season of the half-hour show only runs six episodes, making it a scrumptious morsel that’s easy to devour quickly (and if you haven’t already devoured the first season, remedy that immediately). Moone Boy focuses on 12-year-old Martin Moon (David Rawle) and his imaginary friend Sean (Chris O’Dowd), and their many misadventures in Martin’s home town of Boyle, Ireland. Season Two starts in 1990, but doesn’t wear out that fact with too many jokes about fads and historical hindsight (although those that exist are well-placed, like Martin’s love of Ghostbusters, or his sister Trisha’s [Aoife Duffin] mourning over Talking Heads breaking up).
Ireland is as lush and as important a player in the second season as it was in the first — O’Dowd (and co-writer Nick Vincent Murphy) make sure to saturate the series in the country’s beauty and traditions, without careening too far into caricature. Moone Boy is a clear labor of love. Hit the jump for more on what to expect from the new season.
Though many of the stories from the first season carry over to the new set of episodes — such as the teenage pregnancy of Martin’s older sister Fidelma (Clare Monnelly) as well as the family’s financial strains — there are many new scenarios, like Martin (and friend Padraic, played by a splendid, smiling marshmallow of a person, Ian O’Reilly) beginning secondary school. The show hits historical touchstones as well, like when the family goes on vacation in the season opener: their plans are complicated by Ireland’s chances in the 1990 World Cup, which Martin’s mother Debra (Deirdre O’Kane) is obsessed over (that fact is a nice subversion to typical gender roles on TV, something Moone Boy does well).
Like the first season, the new six episodes share a single director (last time Declan Lowney, and this time Ian Fitzgibbon), with O’Dowd and Murphy writing every episode. It lends a fluidity to the material that makes it optimal for binge-watching. Though each half-hour is its own capsule adventure, with jokes that are often layered and reflexive throughout the episode (and series, like people who tell a story with their eyes closed open them to an empty room), plenty connects the season together, mostly in the form of Martin’s fantastic and quirky family, including his grumpy sister Sinead (Sarah White) and bewildered father Liam (Peter McDonald). In the most hilarious episode of the bunch, “Handball Duel,” Liam (a former handball champion who sustained an injury when his opponent fashioned a tiny ball-shaped rock out of granite) engages in a golf duel with an old rival, and thanks to a lack of clubs, ends up just throwing the ball down the course.
Despite having written and created the series (which is very loosely based on his own childhood experiences), O’Dowd’s Sean is the most wobbling part of Moone Boy. His sarcasm and adult knowingness grounds Martin’s wide-eyed exuberance for childish things, but that’s also what makes Martin so likable. When Sean is genuinely supportive of Martin, things feel more right, but Sean’s biggest contributions are visual (like how he’s always dressed the same as Martin, or how Martin controls, and occasionally punishes him, by giving him weird facial hair or silly glasses). Any episode that focuses too much on Sean and not as much on Martin and his family tends to not be as strong as the others, though ultimately, the show is strikingly even in story and tone.
Though the themes and adventures explored on Moone Boy may not be groundbreaking, they don’t need to be. The acting and the style the series uses to tell the story are what makes it compelling. Martin’s drawings coming to life, in addition to the surreal nature of Sean’s existence, and other visual quirks, create a world with a hint of fantasy that’s perfect for delving into Martin’s inner mind. It’s weird and it’s wonderful. The only complaint is that it’s only six episodes. As Martin might say: “Oh balls.”
Moone Boy returns to Hulu.com Thursday, April 24th.