Moone Boy, actor Chris O’Dowd’s funny and whimsical family comedy series based in part on his own childhood in Ireland, was one of the most delightful surprises of last season when it premiered Stateside on Hulu Plus. Those first six episodes introduced us to the title character, Martin Moone (David Rawle), a pre-teen daydreamer who escapes from his large and dysfunctional family by palling around with Sean Murphy (O’Dowd), Martin’s grown-up and completely imaginary friend.
Now Hulu Plus has begun streaming the second season of Moone Boy, and these new episodes are, by and large, every bit as enjoyable as the first batch. If that comment sounds a little qualified, that’s only because the Season 2 premiere, about a 1990 Moone family road trip from their tiny village of Boyle to Donegal, is unusually heavy in Irish-specific references and personalities as it deals with issues of national pride and cultural identity – or “flag-ism,” as two characters call it.
The problem is, many of these jokes will go over the heads of U.S. viewers (at least, they did in my case), although there are still a few funny bits that don’t get lost in translation.
Starting with episode two, however, we’re back on far more universal footing as we pick up one of this season’s main storylines: Martin is starting his village’s equivalent of high school, with its far more challenging social hurdles. Also, Martin’s adolescent hormones are starting to kick in, especially once he meets his bohemian new art teacher, Miss Tivnan (Amy Huberman) (“She smells like glue and chardonnay,” Sean Murphy sighs in Martin’s ear). In the episodes that follow, Martin also will land his first girlfriend in the form of Majella (Jessica Barrett), a pretty new classmate who is part of a band of travelers now squatting in the empty field adjacent to the Moone home.
The other ongoing Moone Boy story line for the new season involves Martin’s oldest sister, Fidelma (Clare Monnelly), now pregnant by her boyfriend Desmond “Dessie” Joseph Mary Dolan (Ronan Raftery), and that couple’s bumpy road to the altar, climaxing with a nuptial ceremony that inadvertently turns into an episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
It’s all perfectly charming and heartwarming, without turning sappy, thanks in no small part to the very fine writing (some of it by O’Dowd, who also is an executive producer on Moone Boy).
For fans who can’t get enough of this endearing Irish actor, Hulu Plus also has begun streaming the series finale of one of his earlier Britcom hits, The I.T. Crowd, which wrapped up its U.K. run last fall. This very funny comedy stars O’Dowd and Richard Ayoade as, respectively, Roy Trenneman and Maurice Moss, a pair of gifted but socially inept computer geeks who slave away in the basement of a London corporation. Their boss is Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), who is constantly bluffing her way through her job since, well, she knows absolutely nothing about computers. In fact, in one fan-favorite episode of The I.T. Crowd, Roy and Moss convince Jen that a small metal box they give her is, in fact, the Internet. The entire Internet. All of it.
That’s one of the many jokes during the run of The I.T. Crowd that gets a callback in the hour-long finale, which also finds both Roy and Jen plagued by a series of personal image disasters that turns them into social pariahs.
If you don’t know The I.T. Crowd but would like to, happily Hulu Plus currently is streaming the entire series. Frankly, if you don’t watch those earlier episodes before tuning into the newly available series finale, you’re going to miss nearly all of the very funny jokes that reference past moments in the show.
In any case, both Moone Boy and The I.T. Crowd make it abundantly clear why O’Dowd, currently starring on Broadway with James Franco in Of Mice and Men, is one of the busiest actors in the world today.