“Cuckoo” (2012 – 2019)
Television / Comedy
Thirty Three Episodes
Created by: Robin French and Kieron Quirke
Featuring: Andy Samberg, Taylor Lautner, Andie MacDowell, Greg Davies, Tamla Kari, Esther Smith, Tyger Drew-Honey, Helen Baxendale, Matt Lacey and Kenneth Collard
Cuckoo: “I gave this speech on our wedding day. Now I’d like to give it again with clothes on and you, our family, present.”
Recently released on DVD is the BBC series “Cuckoo” (2012 – 2019) a comedy about the coming together of two families from the US and the UK, although it is set in the England it does speak to something, one of those being the young and the old as well as the rapidly changing attitudes towards almost anything, in fact this series ended four years ago and it would be considered out of date – that can be a positive and a negative.
“Cuckoo” was initially based around parents Ken and Lorna Thompson who are in a time of happiness, their daughter, Rachel, is on her way back from a gap year spent on the beaches of Thailand. An academic star with a place on a medical course waiting for her, Rachel’s all set to do great things, and her parents motor down to the airport ready to welcome their golden girl back to her charmed life. Unfortunately, Rachel’s brought back a little more than excess baggage and a suntan. Ken, the doting dad, is about to see a dark shadow loom over his little girl’s carefully planned existence. It belongs to her new husband, the man she’d been telling them about on Facebook for weeks, her dad doesn’t do social media, hence the surprise. Her alarming other half is a Californian hippie, spouts New Age mysticisms as if they were going out of fashion has been travelling for twelve years and gives every indication of being permanently high. He is, quite simply, Cuckoo.
Sure this is a comedy that works because of the doting Father, Ken, played expertly by Greg Davies, who is like a Basil Fawlty character where everything happens to him and nothing is his fault. He seems incapable of experiencing change which is something his daughter does experience with little or no regrets or fear. Ken like many parents lives his own life through his children, in this case his daughter who was maybe going to be a Doctor but now is going to hang out with her new husband who is a free spirit. It is no wonder Ken fears him, he wants plans, and he is of threatened by Cuckoo, which I love. There is nothing better than subverting expectations and pissing people off without any insults.
I love the idea of a person named Cuckoo who does what he does in this series, it is just a hilarious concept. One of my favourite stories is The Midwich Cuckoos and for someone to make a comedy where a boy man comes to a home and is magically able to get his own way with all the women on his side for no reason is some of the best television. Like that story only the man can seemingly see the fault in the new boys arrival. It does read like the worst part of helicopter parenting.
“Cuckoo” is obviously a very English comedy with some very well-known English actors who all do just amazing work, they are completely watchable and believable in their roles. But it is Andy Samberg who steals the show and with his experience in television, music and movies he knows just how to pitch his Cuckoo. What is also fantastic to see is Samberg doing something completely out of the blue as “Cuckoo”, it is so surreal at times that he is in a BBC comedy that you really have to pinch yourself. Greg Davies, however, really holds his own here, and the one-on-one scenes between Ken and Cuckoo work brilliantly; there’s already a hint of an odd-couple rapport beneath the surface personality clash, and Cuckoo’s vision of Ken as a particularly awkward disciple promises big laughs to come.
The Homecoming: The Thompsons meet daughter Rachel’s new American husband Cuckoo for the first time.
Family Meeting: Ken is keen to lay down some ground rules for Cuckoo in the Thompson house.
Ken on E: Ken is delighted to be picked as a local councillor. Naturally, Cuckoo has some advice.
Grandfather’s Cat: Ken is afraid that Cuckoo will send his beloved father-in-law Tony to an early grave.
Connie Sings: Cuckoo motivates Lorna’s best friend Connie to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.
The Wedding: Rachel and Cuckoo discover that their Thai beach wedding ceremony wasn’t official.
A New Beginning: Two years after learning that Cuckoo died in a climbing accident in the Himalayas, Ken is celebrating the fact that Dylan will be leaving home to attend university and Rachel moving in with staid boyfriend Ben. He is less overjoyed when Lorna suggests he has a vasectomy. Then Dale Ashbrick, a hirsute American youngster, arrives at the house, claiming to be Cuckoo’s son, searching for the father he has never met. Like his father he is odd, believing that aliens will end the world next day. However he is wrong and, to the menfolk’s annoyance, Lorna and Rachel ask him to…
Potato Party: Ken is going away for a reunion weekend and Dylan persuades Lorna to go to the theatre with Connie so he can throw a party and lose his virginity to girlfriend Zoe, Connie’s daughter. Dale has decided that his destiny is to take over Cuckoo’s potato wagon so Dylan asks him to provide food for the party. Dale is a wow with the girls, including Rachel, and the food he serves up with its special sauce is a hit. Unfortunately the sauce, which he found in the garage, is well past its sell-by date and by the time Connie turns up with Lorna in tow to stop her daughter having…
Tribunal: After finding a nude Dale in bed with them Ben and Rachel aim to set him up with one of her friends, Natalie, who finds him gorgeous and fascinating. They date but nothing happens as Dale does not believe she is the Special One. Medic Steve is facing a tribunal for gross misconduct and blackmails Ken into representing him or else he will tell Lorna the vasectomy never went ahead. Unfortunately Ken has ingested some drugs and acts very oddly at the hearing, his boss Charles taking over and winning the case.
Funeral: With Rachel and Ben away on holiday Ken takes Dale to a book-shop where they meet Ken’s old tutor Dr Rafferty, who borrows a valuable first edition from Ken, Unfortunately he dies before he can return it so Ken takes the family to the funeral to retrieve it. The relatives take to Dale, despite his bizarre funeral oration, as they wrongly believe he is the doctor’s American lover. However Rafferty’s niece Sandra is irate when she catches Ken trying to steal his book back, nor does it help when the family discovers that Dale is not the lover and Dylan is caught having …
Ken at Work: Ken’s boss Charles announces his retirement, adding that he will be supporting Ken as his successor, rather than rival Jane. To scupper Jane’s chances Ken takes CCTV footage of her robbing the stationery cupboard but the tape also shows Rachel and Ben having sex. Seeing Charles watching a tape and looking guilty Ken wrongly assumes that this is the sex tape and publicly uses this against Charles to secure his promotion. In the event it was a different tape but now Ken has exposed his daughter and her boyfriend’s secret. Dylan is also exposed when it turns out that the…
Neighbourhood Watch: Lorna wakes in the night to hear somebody trying to steal the family car but Ken refuses to intervene and Dale scares them off, making Ken feel old and inadequate. The family attends Steve’s Neighbourhood Watch meeting where Ken is amused to see Dale trounce Steve in martial arts but a resident’s car is stolen. Steve gives chase, with a reluctant Ken, leading to a fight and a misunderstanding though Lorna is proud of her man. Rachel also discovers that she prefers Dale to Ben.
Christmas Special: Whilst Christmas shopping Lorna faints in the street and, on her return home, discovers that she is pregnant. However, seeing the positive testing kit both Ben and Dale believe that Rachel is expecting and both assume that they are the father. At a pre-Christmas dinner Steve wins Connie back from her lover Pepe and Ben persuades a reluctant Ken to play Santa at a charity concert so that he too can take the stage and publicly propose to Rachel. It all goes ahead but everybody is shocked when Lorna, not Rachel, announces that she is the pregnant one (though Lorna is …
Birth: Lorna’s baby is a week late but she also has a great new job lined up, meaning that Ken could be stuck with an unwanted paternity leave. Rachel is still seeing boring Ben so all three are delighted when Dale returns from China, fleeing an irate father. Dylan, his reluctant room-mate, is less enamoured. Lorna’s labour is miraculously induced by some bizarre Eastern methods practiced by struck-off doctor Steve but at the hospital Ken almost misses the birth when he gets caught up with another pregnant woman, Jess – who fancies him.
The Application: Rachel has a chance to get the job of her dreams – and Ken and Dale are on hand to help out.
Mum’s Group: Assisted by Dale, Ken is enjoying hosting the mother and baby group at his house but is forced to confess to Lorna that he was present when Jess’s baby was born, whereupon Lorna demands that he leave the group. Ken is unwilling – until Jess makes a play for him, forcing him to leave her house in a hurry. Unfortunately this leads to a mix-up that requires Dale to sort it out, though he is less amenable when he sees Rachel with a man she has met through a dating app.
Life of Dale: Ken wants a quiet family evening doing his favourite things on his birthday. Steve invites himself round and a simple quiz turns into an ordeal, with Dale recounting stories of a past life. Lorna and Rachel have their minds on other things.
University Challenged: Having been dumped by girlfriend Zoe, Dylan wants to drop out of university after a month so Ken and Dale head to the campus to dissuade him – and fail. However Ken has to claim back the tuition fees – and also fails. Dale stumbles upon a reason to make Dylan stay, allowing Ken to relive his old student days – but not for long. Back home Rachel gets a visit from Ben, who is keen to resume their relationship.
Sid’s Big Day: It’s the day of Lorna and Ken’s baby Sid’s naming ceremony and not only does Zoe bring her new boyfriend, annoying Dylan, but Ken’s irritating mother Belinda arrives from Spain, building up Dale’s romantic hopes for Ling with her tarot reading and causing Ken to crash the car. When Lorna gives Ken some shocking news regarding his mother he is prepared to change his attitude but it is Dale’s performance at the ceremony which causes the biggest reaction.
The Holiday: Leaving Sid with Belinda the family goes on holiday to Cumbria though only Ken and Lorna know that it is to find the man Belinda told Ken was his real father – though sadly he has recently died. Soon they are joined by Steve and Ben who have brought Mr Xi and Ling , just arrived from China and with an angry Mr Xi about to make Dale an offer he cannot refuse. Fortunately Ben comes up with a solution to please everybody and a car chase is followed by happy endings all round.
Lawyer of the Year: Ken’s delight at being nominated for Lichfield’s Lawyer of the Year takes a knock on discovering that he is competing with high-powered colleague Jane so Lorna tries to fix it for him to win. His success is only partial but Dale’s attempt to get as job and enable him to marry Rachel by entering into a partnership with Steve’s new bar gives far more cause for concern.
The License: Ken is suspended from work and tries to engineer a way back in before Lorna finds out.
Ken’s New Friend: It’s an episode full of secrets for Ken when he complains about loud new neighbor Lloyd to the police, only to make great friends with him later.
Trapped: Ken wakes up trapped behind a newly built wall in Steve’s Bar and is forced to wait it out till help arrives, with only Steve for company. Meanwhile, his wife discovers in shock that their son is secretly dating his ex-girlfriend’s mom.
Walkabout: When Rachel says she needs more space Dale takes her at her word and strands her in the Pennines.
Opening Night: It’s the opening night for All Steve’s Pals, with Dale determined to make it the best launch ever and show Rachel he’s the kind of serious safe bet she can spend her future with.
Ivy Arrives: Ken is excited about the visit of his long-lost sister Ivy, but it turns out that the billionaire doesn’t really want to get to know her brother at all.
Ivy Nanny: Ken is determined that Sid should attend a private school, but Lorna is dead set against it. Can Ken persuade her to change her mind?
Weed Farm: As Ivy begins to get to know the members of the family better she discovers that Dylan is operating a cannabis farm in one of the properties that he is supposed to be selling, Ivy spots an opportunity.
Macbeth: In the pub a strange old lady predicts that Ken will become the Liberal Democrat candidate at the next election. Weirdly, events seem to be conspiring to make Ken’s political dreams come true as the sitting MP dies.
Divorce Party: When Ivy receives the news that her divorce has been finalised, Steve takes it upon himself to cheer her up by throwing her a divorce party.
Two Engagements and a Funeral: Ivy completely misunderstands the meaning of the phrase “put to sleep” – leading to her accidentally having her dog put down. A distraught Ivy forces the Thompson family to attend a weird funeral for her.
Election: Ken looks like a shoo-in to elected MP with Ivy vigorously running his campaign for him. Can a small boy calling him fatty and a stranger affect the outcome of the vote?