Fall 2012 Review: Cuckoo

7 Nov

Cuckoo is a BBC comedy (BBC 3 to be precise, but please don’t ask me what the difference is) about a normal-ish family trying to get along with their weird new son-in-law.

While I was watching the first episode, various comparisons kept coming to mind, but my brother crystallized it best –  Cuckoo most closely resembles Meet the Parents in reverse.  Instead of a normal, if easily intimidated and sometimes awkward, workaday guy, being forced into bizarre uncomfortable situations with a super weird and intense parent of his fiance, it’s about a normal workaday family, the father, especially, being forced into bizarre uncomfortable situations with a super weird and intense son-in-law his daughter brings home after marrying him during her gap year abroad (could you get more UK than gap year?).

While the rest of the actors haves some British cred (Greg Davies, who plays the father, is the head of sixth form in other recent British comedy hit, The Inbetweeners), the only one known to Americans is Andy Samburg, who plays the new son-in-law, who calls himself Cuckoo (hence the title).  While I imagined Samburg would play his standard doofus-y type character which I thought would fit seamlessly into this plot, he plays just as ridiculous and over the top a character, just not what I was expecting in that vein from him.  He’s a super arrogant, super non-self aware, eastern-philosophy type, pretentious and with no basis in reality.  His work is writing his magnum philosophical opus, and he casually insults the father unwittingly within just a couple of days of knowing each other (how this is unwittingly is a mark of how extreme the lack of self-awareness is) by calling his beautiful English countryside shit, compared to all the beautiful places Cuckoo has been, and by calling the father a worker, while he, Samberg, is a thinker who works on a higher plane while the workers handle more menial tasks.

If you haven’t guessed yet from just the description so far, well  the show doesn’t really work.  It doesn’t really work on either of two primary levels, idea and execution.  It starts with kind of a simple, stale idea, and doesn’t bring anything particularly new or innovative to the idea nor even take advantage of what humor can still be mined out of that existing idea.

It’s really difficult to understand what the daughter, Rachel, sees in Cuckoo, but even taking that as a given and putting it aside, it’s just not very funny.  Rachel really wants her parents to like him, but she’s amazingly oblivious to his inappropriate and weird comments, and not even really trying to make excuses for his behavior, like you’d think someone would.  There’s lots of sitcom standard miscommunication, where two characters are talking on different frequencties, and we the viewer realize this at the time, while they realize this later on, and there in allegedly lies the humor.  Primarily at one point in the pilot, the father thinks he’s convinced Cuckoo to take some of the father’s hard earned money and leave for good, for Rachel’s sake, so she can have an ordinary university life, where Cuckoo naturally doesn’t get what the father’s saying at all and uses the money to buy a ridiuclous truck, and soon the father realizes he’s wasted his money but has to claim otherwise to save face with the rest of his family for are trying to be more considerate to Cuckoo.  Cuckoo’s so wacky and oblivious!  It’s awkward for everyone without being funny to compensate properly.

Will I watch again?  No.  It wasn’t awful; it mostly was stale instead of cringe-inducing, and there were one or two moments where I laughed.  It just wasn’t very good and was rather disappointing; I’m not sure I had any reason to expect more from this show, but for some reason (likely that I generally like Andy Samberg) I did.

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One Response to “Fall 2012 Review: Cuckoo”

  1. waldinho November 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    So what you’re saying is that everyone’s time would be better spent just watching this?

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