Screenplay by Matthew Berry.
These past two episode haven’t been written by Russell T. Davies, and it shows. It shows this week, too. But in a much more positive way. Yes, watching it, I could tell it was a different writer, but that’s because this is the sort of thing Davies will just never be able to write. I praise him, definitely, but that in no way means he’s the best. In fact – and this is no understatement – Josh and Sophie is my favourite episode of the series, as well its shared universe with Cucumber. This totally eclipsed everything else so far, because it manages to accomplish so much in just half an hour.
Which is a shame, because it deserved much longer. This episode wasn’t a short story, it was the start of an adventure, and it deserves to be continued. Please, can we give Josh and Sophie a spin-off? I say that a lot, but I really mean it this time. Or at least, if not a spin-off, their own feature. Because that’s what this looked like. The colourisation of the village and the props, and hair and costumes, all those elements of production design made this look like the kind of quirky British production missing from our cinema industry. From the moment Josh escapes the Cucumber narrative and arrives back home in Devon – the most beautiful place in the world, by the way – everything literally shines through. Even that car, and the redness of it. And that’s the thing; it’s a hyper-real world, slightly more colourful than reality, and with much more rebellious magic. See, when I heard Josh would have a sexual encounter with Cucumber‘s Freddie Baxter, I was really excited, because they’re really the two sexiest actors right now. And yet, it was much more fun to see him with Sophie, especially when this episode shows, in only a few minutes, what Cucumber‘s been trying to do for the past five weeks: show Baxter for the slut that he is. Sexy, yes. Also a slut, also yes. So it’s great to see Josh and Sophie together, because you want them to succeed in life, you enjoy their company, and seeing them share a mutual appreciation of each other. It’s not a romance, it’s better than that. It’s a friendship.
So the episode becomes a Brit-flick about a teenager returning to his old village and reminiscing about his childhood. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. But it becomes even more interesting because of the charm, and the brilliance of the world-building, which is almost fantasy-like. And that makes the spirit of teen rebellion and running away even more magical. There’s the red car, the bright blue suit and the over-arching theme of grasping life for all its worth.
By the end, when these characters have run-away together, believing they can survive on their wits, it suddenly ends. But it ends with a charming protagonist, whose sexuality is never overplayed by Luke Newberry and barely becomes relevant. Instead, he’s someone who’s charming to look at it but with an air of ambition about him that makes him a really likeable person. And, like everything, it leaves you wanting more. Way more. And I’m going to suggest it from the moment I meet Davies. Heck, maybe I could take inspiration from it and write my own re-imagining of it. Same spirit, different characters.
Banana: Josh and Sophie – delicious taste at something greater 8/10.