Bryan Elsley, co-creator of Skins, has created a new Channel 4 drama series called Dates. It has just finished its run of 7 episodes shown over three weeks. Half hour episodes looking at various people on first dates, this was not naturalistic drama but pure soap. But it was pretty good. The first episode was with Mia (Oona Chaplin) and David (Will Mellor). It was nice to see Oona Chaplin in a contemporary show and Will Mellor was surprisingly really good at his role. There are then dates with Oona Chaplin and Ben Chaplin (no relations), Sheridan Smith and Neil Maskell, two female actors I hadn’t seen before, one of those female actors and the weird guy from Fresh Meat, Will Mellor and school leaver, Ben Chaplin and not Mia, Sheridan Smith and Andrew Scott, and then back to the first pair in the last episode (and Ben Chaplin).
The main reason why it was not realistic apart from the plots where people reveal they are lesbians to their brothers because they don’t realise they haven’t hung up, people get beaten up in Chinese restaurants, Doctors take their dates to the hospital and allow them to pretend to be surgeons, people get found in apartments by the wives of their dates (who had pretended to be single) and various other scenarios, which could happen but are extremely unlikely, is because of the way none of these first dates were awkward at all. Yes, some of the circumstances were and became awkward, but all these dates starting talking and having easy conversation with each other immediately. No awkward silences, no forced conversation about ‘hobbies’, no desperation to leave. They all were able to speak to each other at length; probably because they had it scripted for them.
Dates had a nice title track – ‘Chloe’ by Hannah Peel. A really good cast and great acting. It had a nice concept as although it followed some characters more than once, it could also work with standalone episodes and a turnover of characters and actors. The main recurring character this time was really Oona Chaplin’s Mia, a former prostitute who embezzled her former business partner and has commitment issues, but may have settled down with Will Mellor’s character for now, but I’d like to see more of Sheridan Smith’s kleptomaniac primary school teacher and it would be great, but unlikely, to see more of Andrew Scott’s Irish character again – a married man, addicted to either dating or sex (it wasn’t clear) who was also part of a born again Christian group. A nice soap opera for weekday evenings on Channel 4. I’ll watch the next series when it inevitably returns.