Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
While chatting with a member of the TT film industry about my Caribbean film industry (Cariwood) coverage for Red Mango Reviews they mentioned two shows to check out—Chee$e and Fish (sounds delicious, right?). And for this article I will be checking out the first of these recommendations, 2015 comedy crime drama Chee$e Episode 1; I haven’t seen any other episodes so I believe it’s stuck at the pilot stage.
Chee$e follows a young man named Skimma (Akil Williams) who makes and delivers cheese in his coastal community of Turtle Village, Trinidad. But his ambitions to see the world are not feasible with his small income, so he cooks up a scheme to start trafficking marijuana in blocks of cheese.
What stands out immediately about this show is the high production quality. Chee$e looks very polished and I could easily on major streaming platforms like Netflix. There is also subtitles for the Trinidadian dialect which adds to the international marketability of the show. The pilot opens with a cold open of a police raid on a beach with a helicopter, slo mo shots and some haunting music. This could have easily been the start of a feature film. We then see Skimma running into a room of men with marijuana and telling them they have to hide everything now (with some green verbs added for emphasis).
The narrative then jumps back to Skimma and his pre-marijuana trafficking life in Turtle Village. He is an intelligent and philosophical if somewhat wayward young man and Williams infuses him with a lot of likeability. Skimma keeps a Euro in his ear which is a totem for his dream of seeing the world and making millions. The rest of the episode sees him analysing life and characters in his village, dealing with relationship drama and setting up his cheese and weed business. Things are kept very light and the snappy dialogue and narration deliver their share of laughs. And if you have any doubt about taking things seriously the episode breaks into a short animation sequence in which Skimma explains his “business” structure and the success and effects of his “cheese weed”.
Chee$e is directed and co-written by Damian Marcano. I had previously seen his work in another pilot, THE FIRE QUEEN, and I am again impressed by his confidence and competence as a director. He also did triple duty as cinematographer and delivers some truly gorgeous shots. The original score by Cheah Meng (real name Lou Lyons and founding member of Trinidadian Urban Contemporary band – Freetown Collective) is quite good and provided a most entertaining soundtrack to Skimma’s misadventure. Lyons also appears in the film as the mysterious and spiritual Osiris, but we don’t get to see much of him and I presume we would have delved more into his character in future episodes.
And on that note I do hope that Marcano does revisit Chee$e at some point whether to continue the series or give it the feature film treatment. Because this was extremly well done and we definitely need to see more of Skimma and his cheese-weed schemes.
Editor Jules’s Score: 8.5 out of 10
You can watch Chee$e for yourself by clicking here. And you can check out more great Trinidad and Tobago content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.