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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Channel 4's 'Dates' continues to impress



We’ve had the fun one, the dark one and now tonight’s episode of Dates was the raunchy one. Once I’ve cleared up that tonight’s actors, Ben Chaplin and Oona Chaplin, are no relation, I move on to musing how much Ben looks like Robert Lindsay. Turns out Ben’s no relation to him either. This leaves me with nothing to do but focus on the food. Now, I am a huge foodie and very fond of those places that do small plates, although not when up boring tower blocks in the City (you pay for the view, not the food as far as I can tell). So, I can say with some authority that Stephen, the character, may like food but Ben, the actor, doesn’t know how to eat it. The chef put that compote next to the pig cheeks for presentation, but you are supposed to eat it all together. Ah well, it’s a small error but it’s rankled with me and knocked some of the gloss off this otherwise classy production. While I’m griping, excellent choice of the writer to have them order burrata, but way too much protein and not enough vegetable sides chosen. Honestly, couldn’t they have looked at a Jay Rayner review as research? Even he orders more veggies than that!

Thankfully, the plot moves on and we get to find out more about the characters. Mia, of course, we have already met and she is clearly much more self aware after Monday night’s encounter with the kindly lorry driver. David is still preying on her mind and she is trying to choose between him and Stephen, who as a suave surgeon is more her type. It also turns out that he once paid her £300 for sex, back when she worked as a high class escort. At this point it would have been great if she hadn’t had sex with Stephen on this particular night, but sadly the lure of a backstreet alleyway proves to great. I’m trying not to judge but I really don’t think this is going to help Mia much. I’m beginning to believe we could well have a whole series based on Mia’s search for love. She’s proving surprisingly compelling.

As we go along, I also realise that I quite like Stephen, even if he does drink when he knows he might have to administer to a patient. I assume that isn’t true to life. If it is I don’t think I want to find out! Stephen takes Mia back to the hospital where she pretends to be a doctor and we discover that she’s a dab hand at changing over an IV. Now I’ve spent a fair amount of time in hospital and it’s not the hardest procedure, but I’m wondering if she has been ill at some point or looked after someone who was. Curiouser and curiouser, to coin a phrase. My other note about this section is that Mia’s lingerie was very disappointing. I’m not being pervy, but that seemed very plain and basic for her character.

Unexpectedly, the very nice old lady that Mia was tending to dies, and we see some genuine vulnerability from her. It’s clear that Mia is growing up, and it looks like Stephen might be too. Tonight’s episode ended with Mia walking away, asking Stephen to make a decision on what would happen next, but it’s obvious Mia was really talking to herself. I was informed by CustardTV’s editor, Luke, that viewers will be asked in the final episode to decide who ends up with which partner, and I think it will prove a far more difficult decision after tonight’s episode. Sadly, we have to wait till next Tuesday for the fourth episode, with Gemma Chan and Katie McGrath, and I must confess I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one.

Contributed by Victoria Prior 

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