02 February 2015

TV: Cucumber ii

I love Cucumber. After only two episodes, I'm utterly convinced that this will be one of my favourite series of all time. One of my favourite things about it (although there's hardly a shortlist) is how writer/creator Russell T Davies tells a story that feels completely 2015, but is also the oldest story in the book.

In essence, Cucumber seems to be Henry Best fighting problems he goes out of his way to create. What Davies has done so cleverly though is make Henry so personable and relatable - despite the fact I'm neither middle-aged (and no, that's not just denial!) nor gay - and so the audience is rooting for him even when it's obvious to us how much he's messing everything up. You feel for Lance too, having put up with this bumbling self-defeating hazard for nigh-on nine years. 

Beyond being phenomenal entertainment value though - it's typically witty of RTD - Cucumber is the most affecting show I've come across in years. This is possibly because, based on available evidence, it's the highest-quality programme of the last decade, probably longer. Everyone is on their A-game, from Davies' incredible writing to David Evans and Jake Polonsky's beautiful shots and casting, to Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri giving their all as the two pillars of the series.

We meet Henry's sister Cleo for the first time here, too, played wonderfully by Julie Hesmondhalgh. One of the oft-noted things about Davies' writing is how he can capture characters and relationships so economically, and I'd like to take a moment to echo that. Between all our main players, even down to the aggravated, angry widow who believes Henry was responsible for her husband's suicide and so - successfully - sets out to ruin his life, Davies can build a complete image of a person like no-one else. The way he uses their environment to tell us about them is extremely skilful too, and that's demonstrated again in this episode via a text conversation.

In short, Cucumber continues to be bold, brave and thoroughly beautiful. It tells its story through pictures, using its gloriously flawed characters to create mayhem for themselves. This is probably my favourite thing ever, and no, that's not a 2015ism. 

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