Catch Up TV review: Endeavour, First Dates, Ready to Mingle, Married at First Sight UK
Ivan Radford | On 19, Sep 2021
Endeavour (ITV Hub)
If Vigil hasn’t given you enough Shaun Evans for your money, good news: ITV’s Morse prequel is back and, after the events of Season 7, Morse is in a dark place. Trying to pull him out of it is a mystery involving a bomb and a local football team, along with star player Jack Swift (Julian Moore-Cook), who is making as much money off the pitch on it, becoming drawn into a world of sponsorship, fashion and shady types. It’s not the most challenging case to crack, but that’s just part of Endeavour’s appeal, with the period set design (right down to a recreation of This Is Your Life) impeccably executed – and, supported by the ever-brilliant Roger Allan as stalwart officer Fred Thursday, Shaun Evans on magnetic form as the once and future Morse. It may be eight season in, but Endeavour remains one of the classiest detective shows on the box.
Ready to Mingle (ITV Hub)
The ubiquitous Katherine Ryan fronts this new dating show, which looks to fill the Love Island gap in ITV’s autumn schedule. The premise is inspired by the age-old idiom of its title – but are these people who are ready to mingle actually single? The woman taking part in the show hopes to meet her dream guy, but some of the men are secretly taken, and are only on the show to try and get picked in the final – and win a £50,000 cash price in the process. Where Love Island leaves us to play detective and work out who’s tricking who, this is closer to Channel 4’s The Circle and actually lets us on the secret – by the end of the first episode we know one of the guys who already has a girlfriend and get to watch as we see him deliberately deceive their way into their target’s affections. It’s a smart twist on convention that gives us more complicity and drives us the tension – but whether that’s enough to actually make this worth sticking with for more than one week will depend on your tolerance for generically good-looking casts with little to tell them apart.
Married at First Sight UK: Season 6 (All 4)
Soon after the coronavirus outbreak, Channel 4 looked overseas to give a boost to its on-demand line-up with the acquisition of Married at First Sight Australia. Produced to a level of glitz that rivals Love Island, the programme took the format of a couple getting hitched without meeting beforehand to its full extreme – and now, the UK edition is following suit. With a higher budget and bigger cast, it now brings together all its bachelors and brides before the big day for a dinner, and sets the stage for regular group meetings between contestants to spark confrontations and revelations. The result loses the understated charm of the UK incarnation, but dials up the soapy absurdity to match the madness on display from the people willing to take part in the first place. It’s trashier and less subtle – and may well prove even more addictive.
First Dates: Season 17 (All 4)
Most TV shows in their 17th season have long since run out of steam. Not so First Dates, Channel 4’s defiantly charming dating series that manages to be as feel-good now as it ever has been. That’s not just because of its focus on those initial sparks of attraction in the traditional format of a restaurant dinner, but also because its casting is so wide-ranging – rather than pair people for drama or only recruit people from a certain age group because of their looks, First Dated’ casting team have a wonderfully age-blind approach – and so we see here a self-described man-eater try to find live with someone else who also has divorces and kids in their past, while also following the trials of a guy who’s been on the show before but didn’t get the girl. The editing, which includes candid phone calls in the bathroom, captures telling glances and awkward pauses as much it does feel-good smiles and excited chuckles – right down to the moment when people can’t believe that someone else might want to go on a second date with them.