Archives for posts with tag: First Dates

This week I am in the same position as last week. Nothing new has come along to tickle my fancy and I am left with my habitual viewing. Thankfully, over the next few weeks there is a handful of new shows to keep me going. Years & Years looks promising and if the last few series are to go by Taskmaster has rediscovered its zeal. We UK viewers may even finally get series two of Killing Eve.

Until then though I am forced to be a creature of habit, one of which is First Dates. This is another show that has lost its innovative edge and instead felt very mainstream. This is not necessarily a bad thing so long as the viewer is still entertained. Having said that, it must also be wary of jumping the shark.

For the most part I still enjoy the show, even if I do find it slightly formulaic now. Cheesy pun introducing the couple related to their jobs, opening thoughts on why they are single, one of them gets to chat to Merlin the bartender, awkward introduction, meal, deeper revelations/sob story over mains, maybe a faux pas and/or something exceptionally sweet happens, decision of whether to see each other again.

Increasingly, it is the ones that go wrong that are worth the watch. I still remember my breath being taken away a few series ago when one half told the other they didn’t find the other attractive before even the mains had turned up, leading the dejected party to walk out whilst the other happily ate their steak and then managed to be rude to Fred (the ultimate cardinal sin).

Nothing quite so spectacular has happened this series, although there was the almost unbelievable stupidity of the guy who felt the way to secure a second date was to tell his prospective other half stories of all the times he got drunk with the lads and when she questioned whether he was boyfriend material responded with the now immortal line ‘geezers gotta geez’.

Some of the sob stories, sorry – background setting, are dull. Yes, where genuine tragedies have separated loved ones that is awful, but it feels increasingly like these are becoming the focus, rather than date itself. Some are still genuinely touching though, and all the better if there can be some positive framing.

My other frustration is the banter between the staff. Whilst it is used as a contrast to the dates and probably works for some people, for me it is a distraction from the stories we want to hear. Narratives are picked up and lost that makes them pointless – whatever happened to Sam and CeCe’s unspoken love?

But overall this is still a good way to pass the time. It needs more eccentrics (I love an older couple where both have reached the point in their lives where they are just themselves) and I have noticed a decline in LGBT couples recently. But these are minor points. It does the job, for now.

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Normally, I am the kind of viewer who watches a TV show from the start right through to the very end. Hence why I find it a challenge to make space for new shows in my life. Even when things get bad, I rarely leave them (although I have finally called time on Mr Selfridge – Friday’s at 9pm were never going to be a good time for it). I have the kind of loyalty that makes me a TV scheduler’s dream. Getting me hooked in the first place is the bigger challenge.

Having said that, some programmes to come to me at opportune moments. Gogglebox is a prime example, as I joined it in the third season at it really began to hit its stride. Likewise, I have recently become enamoured with First Dates. I only caught it as there happened to be nothing else on, and so many people had prattled away about it (some of whom I believed to have good taste), I just had to give it a go.

I can’t lie, I enjoyed it. Having said that, it is hard to make a show that pries into people’s private lives not interesting. I would have been very surprised to have been bored by it. The Valentine’s special, in particular, was well put together and showed love in many different forms. Actually, this is what I love most about First Dates, the fact that it isn’t just mid-to-late 20’s professionals. The older generations get a look in, LGBT couples are well represented, and those that are outside of mainstream society get a fair bite as well.

Four out of the five couples featured all, to one degree or another, warmed your heart, and not just because they all agreed to meet again. Take Frank and Catherine: he, a shy, slightly eccentric guy who has been bruised by life, she, a bubbly force of nature, all external confidence whilst paddling like a swan underneath. She will teach him to fake confidence until he becomes confident, and he will be the better for it.

Of course, not every story has a happy ending. Spoilt princess Miki held herself in such high esteem that she spent most of the date putting her date, Arnie, down. Even his attempts to match her social standing fell flat: “my family used to be the royal family of Naples” he said, clearly hoping that would appeal to her new money senses. “Naples is awful” came the devastating reply. Maybe she thought she was auditioning to be the new villain on Made in Chelsea? Either way, Arnie, despite his annoying tics, deserves someone better than her.

Would I watch it again? Yes, but not every week. It is something that you dip into rather than pledge allegiance to. One thing it has done, and I know this will sound corny, is that it has actually given me faith in the virtues of love. All the successful couples walked away that little bit happier with life. Don’t we all deserve that? Well, maybe not Miki.