Moone Boy

Chris O'Dowd's semi-autobiographical comedy isn't an over-the-moon success for Hulu

With:
Chris O’Dowd, Peter McDonald, Deirdre O’Kane, Norma Sheahan, Clare Monnelly, Mary Barry Leonard, David Rawle, Sarah White, Aoife Duffin, Maeve Higgins

Coming-of-age stories never go out of style, which explains why TV keeps returning to them. Now Hulu joins the party with “Moone Boy,” an Irish version of “The Wonder Years,” only set in the late 1980s when “Wonder Years” actually aired. Chris O’Dowd is all over the place these days — “Bridesmaids,” HBO’s “Family Tree” and “Girls” — and both co-created “Moone Boy” and appears in it, playing the imaginary friend of the 11-year-old protagonist. Described as semi-autobiographical, it’s whimsical, to be sure, but other than the “Local Hero”-like environs, never particularly distinctive or funny.

Indeed, but for the nostalgic songs that grace and enliven the soundtrack, the half-dozen-episode season feels virtually indistinguishable from any number of other British comedy series. The central device, moreover — having O’Dowd’s imaginary pal, Sean, appear to young Martin Moone (a nicely realistic and natural David Rawle), and no one else — is perhaps more reminiscent of FX’s “Wilfred” than “Harvey.”

Martin is a kind of doughy kid with working-class parents (Peter McDonald, Deirdre O’Kane) and older sisters, living in the slightly quirky town of Boyle. Narrated by O’Dowd (like we said, very “Wonder Years”-esque), the episodes largely center on the customary genre stuff — being bullied, discovering girls — with the occasional historical subplot, like Martin being inspired by the Berlin Wall coming down or the women rallying in support of Mary Robinson’s candidacy to become Ireland’s first female president.

The first half-hour (more like about 22 minutes, commercial free) is probably the best, with Martin’s dad and some of the other local fathers concocting excuses to take refuge from their horrible kids. Ultimately, though, as with most material produced in this vein — including an upcoming show like ABC’s “The Goldbergs” — “Moone Boy” can’t help but play like a minor trifle at best, a semi-sweet but not particularly memorable indulgence.

O’Dowd (who wrote the episodes with Nick Vincent Murphy) clearly harbors a warm if slightly tweaked view of childhood and puberty, and those aspects of the show are universal in a way that some of the more specific political reminiscing isn’t.

Given the growing competition for attention in the original-digital space, it’s not surprising U.S. distributors would scour the globe for promotable titles featuring recognizable English-speaking talent, in much the way DirecTV has cleverly stocked its Audience Network. Even so, a low-key acquisition like the BBC-distributed “Moone Boy” doesn’t cast off enough flattering light to create much of a halo around Hulu.

Moone Boy

(Series; Hulu, Wed. July 10)

Production: Filmed in Ireland by Sprout Pictures, Grand Pictures, Baby Cow Prods. and Hot Cod Prods.

Crew: Executive producers, Chris O’Dowd, Henry Normal, Gina Carter, Paul Donovan, Lucy Lumsden; producer, Ted Dowd; director, Declan Lowney; writers, O’Dowd, Nick Vincent Murphy; camera, Ruairi O’Brien; production designer, Ray Ball; editor, Joe Randall-Cutler; music, Ronan Johnston; casting, Amy Rowan. 22 MIN.

Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Peter McDonald, Deirdre O’Kane, Norma Sheahan, Clare Monnelly, Mary Barry Leonard, David Rawle, Sarah White, Aoife Duffin, Maeve Higgins

More TV

  • ROSEANNE - "Knee Deep" - Roseanne's

    Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of May 21, 2018

    Coming-of-age stories never go out of style, which explains why TV keeps returning to them. Now Hulu joins the party with “Moone Boy,” an Irish version of “The Wonder Years,” only set in the late 1980s when “Wonder Years” actually aired. Chris O’Dowd is all over the place these days — “Bridesmaids,” HBO’s “Family Tree” […]

  • The Middle finale

    How ‘The Middle’ Will Say Goodbye After Nine Seasons

    Coming-of-age stories never go out of style, which explains why TV keeps returning to them. Now Hulu joins the party with “Moone Boy,” an Irish version of “The Wonder Years,” only set in the late 1980s when “Wonder Years” actually aired. Chris O’Dowd is all over the place these days — “Bridesmaids,” HBO’s “Family Tree” […]

  • Lena Waithe

    Lena Waithe to Receive 'Trailblazer' Honor at 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards

    Coming-of-age stories never go out of style, which explains why TV keeps returning to them. Now Hulu joins the party with “Moone Boy,” an Irish version of “The Wonder Years,” only set in the late 1980s when “Wonder Years” actually aired. Chris O’Dowd is all over the place these days — “Bridesmaids,” HBO’s “Family Tree” […]

  • GREY'S ANATOMY - "Break Down the

    'Grey's Anatomy' to Bring Back Kim Raver as Series Regular for Season 15

    Coming-of-age stories never go out of style, which explains why TV keeps returning to them. Now Hulu joins the party with “Moone Boy,” an Irish version of “The Wonder Years,” only set in the late 1980s when “Wonder Years” actually aired. Chris O’Dowd is all over the place these days — “Bridesmaids,” HBO’s “Family Tree” […]

  • Barack Obama Michelle Obama

    Barack and Michelle Obama Sign Netflix Production Deal

    Coming-of-age stories never go out of style, which explains why TV keeps returning to them. Now Hulu joins the party with “Moone Boy,” an Irish version of “The Wonder Years,” only set in the late 1980s when “Wonder Years” actually aired. Chris O’Dowd is all over the place these days — “Bridesmaids,” HBO’s “Family Tree” […]

  • WORLD OF DANCE -- Season: 2

    Jennifer Lopez Says 'World of Dance' is Going Younger and Bigger for Second Season

    Coming-of-age stories never go out of style, which explains why TV keeps returning to them. Now Hulu joins the party with “Moone Boy,” an Irish version of “The Wonder Years,” only set in the late 1980s when “Wonder Years” actually aired. Chris O’Dowd is all over the place these days — “Bridesmaids,” HBO’s “Family Tree” […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content