TV Review: Unprecedented, Episode 2

The use of real-life couples makes Episode 2 of Unprecedented a very strong entry – superb work from Gemma Arterton, Arthur Darvill and Cecilia Noble among others

“I can be there for you, even from here”

Episode 2 of Unprecedented, Headlong and Century Film’s creative rapid-response to coronavirus definitely managed to take advantage of acting households, as husbands and wives abounded (Arthur Darvill and Inès De Clercq, Gemma Arterton and Rory Keenan, Olivia Williams and Rhashan Stone), offering up a different texture than just the single person shots that dominated the first episode. 

Tim Price’s Romantic Distancing, directed by Jeremy Herrin, was really rather swooningly lovely. Darvill and De Clercq playing a couple who’ve only been together for a couple of months and trying to work out if staying together, whilst isolating apart, is worth it. The switch into Once-style balladry worked beautifully for me and it’s kinda hard not to root for this pair.

By contrast, Anna Maloney’s Safer At Home casts the spell of domestic violence over the Arterton/Keenan household, Brian Hill conjuring a remarkably chilling atmosphere through sharp cuts on Skype calls to his mother (the excellent Geraldine James). It’s an effective but difficult watch, really highlighting the helplessness – both for victim and witness – that is exacerbated by the challenges of the current situation. Arterton is superb here.

And last but by no means least, April De Angelis’ House Party is huge amounts of fun as a group of neighbours who barely knew each other before social distancing had kicked in, crack open several bottles of wine and prepare for the inevitable party games on the Houseparty networking app. Though it has its darker moments, it is one of the more lighthearted pieces of Unprecedented thus far and it’s nice to have a giggle, especially when the cast includes the likes of Meera Syal, Cecilia Noble and the marvellous Fenella Woolgar. 

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