‘Dates From Hell’ Goes Far Beyond Bad Smalltalk

If you know anything about Investigation Discovery, a new series on the channel meriting the title “Dates From Hell” is going to have a lot less to do with painful small talk or guys who turn out to be married and a lot more with near-death experiences, like hanging from windows and being brutalized by a trio of marauding thugs.

The half-hour series — which the channel will premiere July 11, coyly pairing it with the return of “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?” under the heading “Love Gone Wrong Wednesdays — once again mixes interviews with reenactments, slasher music and narration about events that would “change their lives forever.”

The first installment features Keri Potts — a publicist at ESPN — who wound up in the apartment of an Italian artist while on vacation in Rome, only to have him attack her, forcing her to climb out of his apartment window to facilitate a dangerous escape. The second features a decades-old assault on then-college students Darlene Levi and Rick Aker, who — after consummating their relationship in the back-seat of his car — had the misfortune to have a dead battery that left them both vulnerable to a brutal and protracted assault from three assailants.

Frankly, “Dates From Hell” is a bit too cheeky and playful, title-wise, given the grim nature of what transpires, but then again, that’s part of ID’s unabashed carnival-barker-like approach — dressing up the familiar trappings of TV true crime in clever, economical packaging, telling stories that once would have been NBC or Lifetime made-for-TV movies. The formula is cheerfully review-proof, but they keep sending the DVDs, and (morbidly, perhaps) I keep watching them.

Oh, and lest I forget, here’s a quick rundown of descriptions regarding what happens to the unfortunate women showcased in the new season of “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?:” Stabbed, burned, children abducted, secret family/murderer.

So if your husband leaves the toilet seat up and doesn’t help as much as he should around the house, go give him a big wet kiss for (relative) good behavior right now.



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