Dates, airing in the UK on Channel 4, is the brainchild of Skins creator Bryan Elsley. Similar to Skins, each episode of Dates primarily focuses on one set of characters and their respective storyline — in this case, a blind date. It’s similar to Wigs’ (channel on YouTube providing original programming) various speed dating series in a way, with each episode set around a date between potential couples; we don’t know anything about the characters other than what they choose to divulge to their respective date.
The cast includes Oona Chaplin, Andrew Scott, Katie McGrath, and Gemma Chan. Despite the format, the first two episodes – each being about 22-minutes long – don’t feel dragged out, and the dates themselves are pretty engaging thanks to what we can try to infer about each of the characters, with little hints and tidbits being shown to us.
Episode 1: David and Mia
Yorkshire lorry driver David makes his first foray into online dating, but quickly realises he may have bitten off more than he can chew when he meets the beautiful Mia.
In the first episode, David (Will Mellor) and Mia (Oona Chaplin) – calling herself Celeste on her online dating profile – meet for the very first time after Mia nearly forgoes the date altogether. She sees David wearing a tie with jeans, which is an immediate dealbreaker for her. Their meeting is very charged, wrought with anger, hostility, and – to top it off – sexual tension. Mia, while beautiful, is a bit of a snob and David doesn’t hesitate to call her out on it. Interestingly, this piques Mia’s interest and she decides to stay for the duration of the date. While we get to learn more about David (granted that he’s telling the truth about himself, and he does come across as earnest), Mia remains more of an enigma.
The episode leaves off on a rather ambiguous ending, but if you’ve read the synopsis for future episodes, then you sort of know what to expect. Rating: A-
Episode 2: Jenny and Nick
Jenny is a lonely primary school teacher recovering from a disastrous broken relationship, while Nick is a city boy richly endowed with both cash and secrets. On their first date, they find out everything there is to know about each other – which can be dangerous.
Episode 2 tells the story of Nick (Neil Maskell), a confident buy side trader, and Jenny (Sheridan Smith), a shy preschool teacher adjusting to her new life in London. Immediately, you can sort of tell these two don’t have the same spark as David and Mia did in the first episode; Nick and Jenny’s clash of personalities doesn’t give way to any sexual tension. In any case, their interactions is interesting to watch. We’re more privy to Jenny’s point-of-view on this date, as well, so what we learn about Nick is exclusively through her eyes.
There’s a twist towards the end of the episode (if the synopsis didn’t already clue you in), and I’m positive we’ll be seeing more of Jenny in future episodes. Rating: B+
Dates airs on Channel 4 in the UK.