20 February 2015

TV: Cucumber/Banana/Tofu v

reviews by Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

Henry is lost in the wilderness. It’s a fab visual concept to bookend the episode with - a wrong turn leading Henry through the trees instead of that same supermarket. But it’s not just a fancy image, there’s a narrative theme: he’s lost the house, the job, the boyfriend and control over the rest of his life. Even Murray Gold’s music is increasingly offbeat and odd (very different to his usual orchestra style of Doctor Who and The Musketeers - and very good!)

Essentially this is the comedown from last week’s one mad night. The mundane, more realistic romantic encounters where the hope has slightly dimmed: Freddie and Henry was rarely going to spark, even if he enjoys it, whilst Daniel and Lance has turned into something cautious, another power imbalance. Daniel in particular is probably an insane character on the page but played so well (played straight!). Casting all round is a dream.

The standout scene this time is Lance and Henry at the end of the episode - a little like the end of episode 2, but everything has changed. Over coffee and Henry’s attempts to express his thoughts, the conversation shifts so fluidly, with subtle points scored over the other. So much is going on in their faces - it’s an acting tour de force.

And Cleo! Oh, Cleo. The moment where she tells Henry about her daughter and the unintended consequences is electrifying and the right kind of unexpected. And all this dovetails into Russell T Davies’s short spinoff, a scene they’ve filmed between Cleo and her son available online. It’s called Screwdriver - it’s heartfelt, scary and surprisingly close to the mark. It merits a place on TV - but online there’s a chance it’s seen by more people.

Banana is a bit plotless, but oh very satisfying.

I fully understand that this could be personal. The world that’s depicted here is one that I recognise more than the others (not that I empathise with the characters any more, but the actual world - the tech, the language, the relationships). I felt engaged in it too - the plot is thin, yes, but it has a clear view and a message. The ‘old vs young’ theme carries over from Cucumber, along with some of the big dramatic life changing decisions.

Luke Newberry (incredibly briefly popping up on the parent show) from the ace In the Flesh plays Josh, but the episode cleverly is more about Chloe Harris (The Village in particular) as bride-to-be Sophie. I’d watch a show with just the two of them, which is what this often feels like. And it all looks gorgeously sunny with a great soundtrack. Though I think that two scenes of characters wanking is probably enough for one night.

And to Tofu - which shouldn’t really be an ‘and’, it’s a breeze to watch. This fifth episode is sparky and cheeky as ever. Titled ‘Teenage Lust’, it’s a well edited, fast paced look at the first experiences of our interviewees.

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

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