Screenplay by Russell T. Davies.
If last week’s episode proved anything, it’s that Cucumber‘s characters literally fight over screentime. It was hilarious, sickening and melodramatic all at the same time. This week, Davies lets them off for a while by giving them the chance to party when they all go out on a date night. Most of the characters remain separate, but do occasionally crossover with each other. It’s like an inter-episode, functioning to itself in the same way that Cucumber as a whole connects with Banana.
One’s of the show’s problems, depending on how one sees it, is that it shouldn’t actually have an ensemble cast – that’s exactly what separates it from Banana. For the first episode, the single protagonist was Henry Best, who’s been relegated to being part of a character team. That doesn’t have be a problem, but it is for me since it’s an opportunity being missed to make Freddie Baxter the central character. Davies has said he isn’t going to write a second season, but there’s a loophole there that means he never said he won’t do spin-offs. Just saying…
And yet, the most interesting subplot in this episode is that of Dean, who finds a very interesting way to get pleasure: hiring a service whereby men will fake-kidnap you, tie you to a bed and stimulate sex. It isn’t sex, but it stimulates sex. Let’s just say that the situation allowed Fisayo Akinade to showcase his more-than-satisfactory body language. I do like Dean. Every situation he’s in turns into a farce, but he’s also really – no, overwhelmingly – polite. To Hell with it, my proposed Baxter spin-off should now include Dean as the secondary character. Maybe add in Adam there, as well. There was too little of him this week. Call it Peeled Banana. And yes, they do “do it”.
Because what Baxter and Dean are getting up to are so interesting, the other subplots are just… boring. Best’s encounter with Rufus “Peter Eccleston” Hound aren’t really different in anyway from conventional love stories and even then, what’s distracting is the that, through all of this, “that’s Rufus Hound!”. It’s just not something you can ignore. And then there’s Cleo, who just isn’t present enough for me to care about her when something big is happening.
Luckily, the exploits of Baxter and Dean are satisfying enough for me to say that, despite the other subplots being overnumerous and unremarkable, I liked this episode more than I didn’t. Though it is the weakest so far.
Cucumber: Episode 4 – positive extremes of audience engagement 6/10.