Now, I’m not really one for watching Television. In fact, other than BBC News, and the odd episode from some sort of comedy show, I don’t watch TV. It’s Netflix or nothing, for me, at the moment. Now, that’s great. But you need variety, and when I saw that there was a few programmes coming out, written by Russell T. Davies, I was on board. I knew I had to watch as many as I could. As it happens, I ended up watching Cucumber AND Banana, which are two of the three programmes that he had written which were being shown. Needless to say, I had to review them. First up, Cucumber.
Now, before I start, I want to explain that I hold Russell T. Davies in high regard. To me, he is the man who brought Doctor Who back to life. He was the head writer back in 2005, when the new series started up, and to me, it’s him who made it work. Sure, the acting was fantastic too, but you need great writing behind it, or it doesn’t work. So, all hail Russell!
Now, to Cucumber.
As briefly as I can put it, Cucumber follows a man, Henry Best (Vincent Franklin), as his relationship with Lance Sullivan (Cyril Nri) falls apart, and the aftermath, with fatal consequences for one, and a sort of roller-coaster for the other. Along the way we meet a large number of the LGBT and Other community, with some of them living with Henry in the final episode.
Now, I don’t want to spoil too much for you. I really don’t, but there’s something I have to say.
I don’t do awards, but this show has made me want to do a yearly awards ceremony. One award, this year, would be for Best Actor In A Leading Role, and Vincent Franklin will definitely be nominated for the award. In fact, at the moment, he’s going to win it. Spoilers, by the way. The way he took on his role, portraying all sorts of emotions, making me feel for this character who I have nothing in common with, making me want him to just be happy, to be left alone and sheltered from the horrors of life… It’s just superb. I don’t throw that word around. I really don’t. The best acting I have seen this year. Simple as that.
And the second award would be Best Death Scene. In episode six, I believe, we are shown Lance’s life, from birth, to death, and the last 15 minutes are very emotionally charged, violent, and in all honesty, it comes out of nowhere, and is acted brilliant. Lance gets hit around the head with a golf club, skull dented, with images flashing across the screen, as he watches one last happy moment shared with Henry, before passing on, the screen turning to black, and the episode ending. Depending on how you look at it, the whole episode could just be his life flashing before his eyes. That’s meant to happen, isn’t it? It is probably the best death scene I’ve seen in a long time. I highly recommend you watch the episode, if not the series.
The show is not about homosexuality, though. It’s about life, about living in the 21st century, in fact. It’s about the relationships we have with other people in general, and human psychology, in a few places. It takes a look at humanity, slices it open, whacks it in the head with a golf club, puts it back together and stands back for us to observes the results. We get drawn to the characters and as time goes on, we get pulled away from them, one by one, maybe two or three at a time, just like happens in real life, until, one day, you bump into someone you know, and you sit down, have a coffee and talk about all the time you’ve missed together. (Episode 8 spoiler… My bad)
The thing is, there is one thing I really wasn’t that keen on, and that’s fine. I don’t have to be. I’m allowed to not like one thing. There is a scene where a woman tells Lance to go home, as opposed to going to his murderer’s house. She reveals that she is dead and walks up and down Canal Street (the site of a big gay scene in Manchester), presumably to warn people to go home, as opposed to getting killed or dying. To me, having someone who is dead talking to a living character just seems a bit… sloppy. Now, I’ve read an interview with Russell T. Davies where he says that it could be Lance reliving the moment of a woman yelling at him to go home (as a racial thing), which he’s “tidied up” in his dying moments. That would make sense, but to leave it that open to interpretation just feels off. There’s so much grey in the show, that for something this big, it just didn’t feel in line with the rest of the series.
But it was a fantastic show. I tried to find the death scene for you, just so you could see what I meant, but I couldn’t see it. I suggest you look at 4oD, if you can, and watch them. This is a fantastic series and I can honestly say that I think my life has been bettered for having seen it.