If you read my blog about the British show, Sick Note, you will not be surprised that I also love the show, Cuckoo. Have to admit I was hesitant to watch it at first, because Andy Samberg was in the first season and for some reason, he just irritates me. I don’t know why. I’m willing to believe that he’s a nice guy, but I just don’t enjoy his work. Finally, though, dealing with the horrors of living in a country run by an unelected psychopath got to me and I broke down. After all, Samberg bothers me infinitely less than He Would Will Not Be Named!
Written by Robin French and Kieron Quirke, Cuckoo takes place in Lichfield, Staffordshire. In the first episode, we meet a father, Ken, and his wife, Lorna. They are at the airport, waiting to pick up their daughter, Rachel, who has returned from a gap year in Europe. They are shocked to find out that Rachel has put her plans to attend medical school on hold because she has married an American guy named Dale “Cuckoo” Ashbrick, an eccentric, sort of new agey, hippie who thinks he’s an expert on everything, when he really knows little about anything.
Cuckoo moves in with his wife, who still lives with her parents and her brother, Dylan, who is more than a little dumb, with a moral code that would make Machiavelli uneasy. The new husband, Cuckoo, is not the only person who’s a little nuts. In addition to Dylan, the next-door neighbors, Connie and Steve are not the sanest of people. Steve is a short doctor who really wants to make it socially and is willing to do anything to try and move up that proverbial ladder, while Connie fancies herself a middle-aged Lady Gaga. Before the first season ends, Connie has left Steve for Pepe. Soon, Steve will not only lose a wife, but everything, and then, he’s no longer climbing the social ladder. Instead, he’s letting it all hang out.
Ken, who is a lawyer, is trying to maintain civility and stability in a home where nothing is normal any more. And, if he thinks Cuckoo is the worst of his problems, just wait until his son-in-law dies in a mountain fall trying to save goats that weren’t in danger, only to have Cuckoo’s long-lost son appear and end up in an incest-adjacent affair with Rachel.
The show never explains how Cuckoo’s son, Dale, could be the same age as Cuckoo. Dale (played by Taylor Lautner) just appears in Lichfield a few years after his father’s death, fully grown. The show doesn’t explain a lot of things. You just have to go with it. In Season 5, Ken finds out that he has a long-lost sister, Ivy (played by Andie McDowell). No one ever explains how Ken and Ivy are brother and sister and why one was raised in America, while the other grew up in England.
As with most British comedy, the humor is dry, and often, sneaks up on you. If I tried to explain the funny bits to you, something might get lost in the translation. But, one of my favorite stories is how Lorna finds herself pregnant. She can’t figure out how she could be preggo since Ken promised to go see Steve and get a vasectomy. However, Ken gets nervous at the last minute – it’s not fully explained whether he was scared of the snip or the fact that Steve was acting way too lecherous about Ken’s genitals (or, both) – but, bottom line, Ken does not get a vasectomy and Lorna decides that she must be the modern-day Virgin, because no one loves Christmas as much as she does! Then there’s a bit with a dead cat (I know it sounds awful, but even as a cat lady, I laughed and laughed and laughed), and then Ken loses his job (but what does he do to get it back?), and a bar burns down, and there’s a walkabout (in England, not Australia), and finally, some furry fun.