Screenplay by Charlie Covell.
Charlie Covell wrote the episode Helen, an episode I reviewed as being quite standard, cliched and nothing more than passable. This episode is also written by Covell, who features as an actor, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Josh and Sophie is still the ultimate screenplay to me and potentially always will be, but this episode definitely comes a close second. Whatever it is that made Helen not really work is now working especially well. Is that because Covell is performing a script she’s written? Who can say? How she came to land the role is still unknown. Whether she was cast separately (unlikely, but possible) or wrote it on the terms of what we end up with (likely, but not necessarily true) doesn’t matter with this episode, as both she, the screenplay and the episode show that writer-actors contributing to the same work isn’t always just for the vanity. That expectation can be there, which makes it important to dispel them.
Luckily, as someone who doesn’t really care, I was able to overlook these things anyway. And I only recognised Covell in the trailer from a Helen interview. Without that, I wouldn’t have known it was her until the end, when I would have been pleasantly surprised. But it would have only been peripheral to the thing itself, which is in-fact made doubly interesting by Covell’s presence.
Covell is – let’s get a few things clear – a better actor than a writer. She’s not a bad writer at all – this episode is proof that she can be unique, and different and quirky and have her own style. As an actor, she’s still that, but more. Everything already written, a kooky, slightly off-piece of morbid humour, becomes something you don’t just enjoy, but something in-which you invest. Covell as the protagonist actually brings a sense of identity to it, and she should definitely write more characters connected to herself, because that pattern (of one dot) is working so far.
Amy worries. Constantly. She perceives everything through its dangers and risks, which controls her mind. On the one hand, it’s amusing, because of the numerous ways she imagines disaster in her current situation, but then it’s also really quite, quite dark. This introverted, insecure worrier has the potential a serial killer. It’s impressive that Covell can combine unconventional laughs with horrific scenes of destruction, and her performance as Amy is the binding material between these two strands.
All of her idiosyncrasies make for something resembling Matt Smith. That’s something that stood out to me throughout – how spookily similar she is to the Eleventh Doctor. Only in this case, it’s because that’s the intention. Covell is like Smith because of an idea behind the character. Smith is like Smith because he just doesn’t know he can’t help it. (Seriously though, Covell’s on my Thirteenth Doctor shortlist).
The measure of a story’s success is in how the characters make you feel. Not whether you enjoyed the story, but whether you enjoyed the characters in it. With Josh and Sophie, it’s frustrating that there’s no spin-off there. With Amy, I still don’t know if a spin-off would work, based on the easy opportunity for it to run itself dry. It really depends on whether Covell would do it, or even has any ideas for it. That’s something that only she can do, but enough is enough. I’m more than satisfied with what this gave me, and the short time slot was used far better than the first time around. Might I suggest Covell do more writing/acting combinations in future?
After watching her first episode, I never thought I’d say this, but Charlie Covell could be the Next Big Thing.
Banana: Amy — scary premonition of vocational success 8/10.