‘Dates’ Series 1 DVD review

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What the show really does is take the age old question “Is this a date?” and answer it in nine different ways. And the answers, when answered well, provide poignant, funny and sometimes riveting half hours.

In fact the most interesting episodes are the ones that fit the “date” mould most loosely. Will Mellor’s David is involved in a couple of these, the first of which involves the infuriating but intriguing femme fatale Mia, who turns him down on sight before coming crawling back once he doesn’t seem too bothered. The chemistry between the two on paper seems ridiculous, but totally feasible on screen. This is heavily down to David’s unexpected down-to-earth sex appeal, which becomes apparent to both Mia and us, the audience, as the episode progresses.

This level of sexual chemistry is matched by an episode where a self-assured successful doctor, Stephen, has an unexpected stolen half hour by a hotel swimming pool with a married woman, Heidi.  Elsewhere, the dates are either carried by one interesting character, or fall flat when the pair exhibit no chemistry.

Sheridan Smith’s surprisingly unlikeable but brilliantly played Jenny carries the two episodes she features in, and we find ourselves less interested in the outcome of her tragic dates as finding out more about this charmingly passive aggressive klepto.

The weakest episodes are the two that centre around Gemma Chan’s Erica, a closeted lesbian from a controlling family. Her date with the stubborn and two-dimensional Kate plays out like a straight man’s fantasy of a date between two women, with slow-moving camera shots and lingering silences between the characters making the episode seems like one long L’Oreal commercial. Erica’s second date, an excruciating set-up with the revolting Callum, could have been hilarious with a different male companion, but the duo’s eventual unfeasible friendship ends up just cringeworthy.

The series’ most recurring theme is the love triangle between David, Mia and Stephen, and luckily Oona Chaplin’s Mia is enigmatic enough on screen to carry the thinly spread storyline until the end of the series. But as far as characters we’d want to see return in a second series, it’s only Smith’s Jenny who still needs a happy ending, whilst the Mia and Erica storylines have fully run their course.

Extras: Special features include a standard behind-the-scenes featurette for each episode, and these reveal the most endearing trait of the series – the gratefulness of the cast to be involved in the project.

Released on DVD on Monday 7 October 2013.

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