×

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

  • Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as

    Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as CEO of VFX Firm Foundry

    Jody Madden has been upped to CEO at U.K.-based VFX outfit Foundry. She steps up having been chief product officer and replaces Craig Rodgerson, who joined the company in late 2017. Foundry was bought by U.S. tech firm Roper Technologies earlier this year in a £410 million ($509 million) deal. The London-based business provides software [...]

  • La Linea Invisible

    Mariano Barroso Shoots Basque Conflict Origins Story ‘La Linea Invisible’

    IRUN, Spain  — When- and why – do people begin to kill for a cause? Having created “What the Future Holds,” maybe the best reviewed to date of any Movistar + Original Series, Spain’s Mariano Barroso (“The Wolves of Washington”) tackles this question head on in “La Línea Invisible,” a six-part series, again from Movistar [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Writers Guild Leaders Warn Members About Contact With Fired Agents

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America are warning members about being contacted by their former agents — asserting that such efforts are an attempt to undermine the WGA and its members. The missive, sent Tuesday from the WGA negotiating committee, came with the guild in a bitter three-month standoff with talent agents that appears [...]

  • Mike Fleiss

    ‘The Bachelor’ Creator Mike Fleiss Accused of Attacking Wife

    “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” creator Mike Fleiss has been accused of attacking his wife Laura Fleiss at their home in Hawaii on July 4, according to documents obtained by Variety. The documents show that Laura Fleiss, who is currently pregnant, filed for an emergency domestic violence restraining order against her husband after he allegedly [...]

  • James Cordon Drag Race Handmaids Tale

    Emmys Trivia: 20 Surprising Facts From 2019's Nominations

    For a show that technically wasn’t eligible at the Emmy Awards in 2019, “The Handmaid’s Tale” did quite well this year. The Hulu drama picked up 11 nominations, including major ones like outstanding directing, writing, guest actress and guest actor, thanks to a quirk in the TV Academy’s Emmy rules. As previously noted, most of [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Emmy Nominations Give Boost

    'Schitt's Creek' Emmy Nominations Give Boost to Pop's Profile

    The core executive team at Pop TV expected to be disappointed, but they still gathered at the CBS-owned cable channel’s Playa Vista offices early Tuesday morning for the reveal of this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards nominations. They were not disappointed. “Schitt’s Creek,” the quirky comedy series that has punched above its weight for Pop since [...]

  • Beyonce-HOMECOMING-Netflix

    Beyoncé, Sara Bareilles Vie for First Emmys as Ramin Djawadi Looks to Reclaim Throne

    Beyoncé and Sara Bareilles could add Emmy trophies to their awards shelves this year, having been nominated in key music categories Tuesday by the Television Academy. Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” special on Netflix was nominated in six categories, and four of those include a nod for the pop superstar herself. Only one of those is in a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content