The Six Commandments of Mongrels
Mongrels writer Jon Brown says...
Every show has its own set of rules. "No hugging, no learning," to quote an over-quoted example. Thing is, the contents of any given sitcom's rulebook only usually become apparent once you've pitched the producer a load of story ideas and he's patiently explaining why NONE of them are quite right. "The characters all hate each other, that's kind of one of the rules of the show." "None of the characters have any money, that's kind of one of the rules of the show." "Gary can only travel back in time to 1940s Blitz-era London and then forward again to the 1990s (and NOT back to 5th century Britain), that's kind of one of the rules of the show."
Well, let's lay this particular rulebook open. So here they are, the Six Commandments of Mongrels:
#1 No puppet jokes -- The immutable law of Mongrels. There can be no jokes about "having a hand up your arse", or "knocking the stuffing out of someone." Never ever ever. Ever.
#2 Keep the gang together -- You may have noticed, but foxes, cats, pigeons and dogs don't often hang around together embroiling themselves in extended comedic hijinx. Well tough shit, because these ones do. And if you're writing it, it's your job to find problems that keep them together.
#3 We're in the real world -- Which is why every episode starts on actual humans in the actual human world, before panning to reveal our animals in the margins. The audience needs to know where they are, and who's world this is.
#4 Cutaways are a law unto themselves -- You can do anything you want in a cutaway. Provided you can persuade Eamonn Holmes' agent it's a good idea.
#5 You can't end every episode with "then Vince enters and eats everyone" - it's tempting. Especially when you've written Nelson into a corner and he's lumbered with a disabled surrogate runt baby. But just because the real animal kingdom is a brutal place where senseless, random things happen, doesn't mean you can ignore the age-old golden sitcom rules of 'fair play.'
#6 Adding the line "... but with animals" to descriptions of old episodes of Two and a Half Men does NOT constitute a day of storylining - although that never stopped us.
#7 All rules are made to be broken - except the first one.
(Finally, anyone interested in reading an Arthurian special of Goodnight Sweetheart, in which Gary Sparrow takes some WD-40 to the Sword in the Stone, please contact my agent.)
Watch the final episode of Mongrels on Tuesday 10th August at 10.30pm on BBC Three.