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Dates – Channel 4, Tuesdays/Wednesdays 10pm

tvFollowing a group of characters as they weave in and out of each other’s lives through a series of first time dates.

“De Niro was 34 when he made the film Taxi Driver… Robbie Williams was mental… Jesus! He was at his peak at 34.”

“No, he wasn’t… they crucified him.”

“Oh, I forgot about that.”

So unfolds the conversation between Ellie and her date David, as she tries to convince him of the upside of turning thirty-four years old. On the very day of their date, too. Or as Ellie puts it “Today? It’s your birthday today and you’re spending it with me? That’s so sad… Oh. Er, sorry I didn’t mean… I meant…”

Who was Ellie, really? Was she the knowing, twenty-five year old faux naïve ironist that she claimed to be? Because no-one could actually be that unashamedly ignorant, could they? It had to be an act, right?

We were constantly guessing who each of these characters really was, or who they really wanted to be. The episode itself embraced identities ranging from absurd comedy, to tragedy on the theme of human neediness. There was also a touch of the bunny boiler in there just to keep us guessing.

Episode 4

I must explain at this point that I arrived rather late to “4oD”ing up with Dates and prior to finding Ellie and David, had made the mistake of clicking on the first episode I found, which happened to be Episode 4, and was an appallingly badly written tale of girl-on-girl dating. Both characters, instead of being graced with anything as appealing as a personality, had been baggaged up to the hilt with “issues”. Lesbian 1 was a Chinese girl battling with a possessive brother. Lesbian 2 was the aggressive type, who amongst other things had a problem with other girls being bisexual. The episode also bashed away at the viewer’s intelligence with the mistaken notion that “chemistry” between a couple is equivalent to “random insults”.

Episode 5

I jettisoned Episode 4 at the commercial break and went on to what I thought was Episode 1, where I found some real chemistry (the series uses different writers and let’s just say, yeah, it shows) between the aforementioned Ellie and David. Chemistry being the dangerous mix of things about to boil over… or fizzling out and staying there, just on the boil. It was brilliant, funny, cringey, edgy…

…and satisfyingly, nothing turned out as expected. Which included my realisation that I had watched not Episode 1, but Episode 5. Hooked now, I decided that actual sleep could be postponed for yet another evening, and that I just had time to watch the real Episode 1…

Episode 1

which was the story of David’s first date after divorce, in which he was once again all disarming openness in the face of female hostility. David’s fatal flaw, it seemed, was going to be his terminal inability to WALK AWAY NOW! AS FAST AS YOU CAN! In fact, RUN!!! from any of the high maintenance/unhinged girls he had picked up.  His date tonight was the self interested Mia (Oona Chaplin – Charlie Chaplin’s grand-daughter), whom he was equally desperate to a) rescue from herself and b) bang.

Great series and looking forward to watching the next/previous/any other randomly numbered episode.

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