01 February 2015

TV: Cucumber/Banana/Tofu ii

reviews by Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

Watching all three of these new shows together, you don’t need to be reminded which one is which. Cucumber is something special - there’s a brilliant, very human breakup story running through the series, including this episode. It’s definitely not written 15 years ago -a texted pleading to meet again is gloriously cut together between two people looking at screens, one with loud music blaring, one without. Later, both characters are texting whilst trying to have an argument, adding layers to the relationship - really just making things crueller.

The secret is the characters on show are behaving exactly as we feel they should. Henry is full to the brim with likeable faults (in this he gets fired unfairly, but doesn’t make it easy for himself), and also full of old-school desire for things he’s never going to have. To identify with this main character you don’t have to be gay or over 40 - although it might help. It’s about ever wanting to speak your mind or aiming for somebody who’s out of your league, I’m sure there can’t be many who haven’t been Henry before.

Both he and Lance (and Cliff) are distinct and slightly contradictory and very alive. Meanwhile Daniel the diver is still a tosser (but a very well played tosser). He remains an interesting character because we can’t fully figure out his motivations. And Freddie (Fox) makes a big impression here, getting not one but two ‘spellbinding’ scenes.

The whole thing zips along with humour, plot and funky everything, working effortlessly towards the scene for a possible conclusion before yanking it away again. All this and Russell T Davies hits gold again in the opening sequence - the first episode had suggestive vegetables, the second episode has the incredible ‘Henry Test’. Cucumber deserves to be influential with quality ideas like this.

Not that Banana isn’t too shabby. This week’s is very, very well written - I didn’t realise it was, again, written by Russell until the end - it’s a pure standalone story. I thought I knew where it was going (lesbian main character, after the gay man story last week), and barely 30 seconds into it there’s a twist, and the episode becomes something far better.

There’s some great casting too - Rosie Cavaliero is notable after last year’s Prey, for which she got one or two odd, undeserved insults from critics. About halfway through there’s a moment where somebody is described as being kind whilst in a supermarket queue - that’s a lovely image, and of course it would be one of the moments that we’d be at our best.

Meanwhile in the online land of Tofu, the documentary series gets even more adult, and frank, than last week’s opener. At least not at the start - but after, fittingly, talking about how we don’t always talk about sex, we’re treated to people talking about just that. But always in a funny, well presented way.

many thanks to
Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

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