Isolation Stories evaluation: ITV’s lockdown series is admirable but lacks depth


Because the coronavirus pandemic shuts down the overwhelming majority of tv manufacturing (and certainly, life generally), broadcasters face the daunting process of conserving the general public entertained whereas sustaining minimal human contact. Enter: Isolation Stories.

ITV has wrangled some massive names in British drama to guide this four-part series of quick movies from Jeff Pope, each telling a self-contained narrative about people dealing with current occasions. Isolation Stories adheres to all the newest authorities pointers concerning social distancing by having the celebs themselves and their households do the filming from house. The outcomes gained’t win BAFTAs for cinematography, but they’re a convincing proof of idea that such manufacturing strategies are potential.

After all, it could possibly be argued {that a} tv drama about folks caught in lockdown is the very last thing audiences need proper now. In any case, for many of us, this is on a regular basis life in the meanwhile. But whereas escapism is undoubtedly precious, tales that discover our most urgent anxieties will also be therapeutic. Alas, that relies upon very a lot on the execution.

Isolation Stories tackles ideas and feelings that many people may be feeling, but not in a very intelligent manner. Written, shot and edited within the house of 4 weeks, the series feels too reactionary and, in consequence, considerably shallow. Each of the episodes out there to critics forward of time, titled Mel and Mike & Rochelle, introduce us to distressed characters spiralling into utter panic and despair, who every expertise a Street to Damascus second earlier than their 15 minutes is up. Suffice to say, it feels a bit rushed.


The brisk runtime solely turns into extra obvious when severe themes come into play. For instance, the series opener options an upsetting reference to home abuse, which is arguably probably the most highly effective second in the complete episode. But after one fleeting point out, the difficulty is by no means raised or addressed once more, which is notably jarring contemplating its tragic relevance and the way urgently it calls for consideration.

Isolation Stories doesn’t fairly join in its lighter moments both. There’s an compulsory scene about how video convention calls are tedious typically, whereas one other takes purpose on the irrational behaviour that led to mass panic shopping for, but neither are sharp sufficient to be classed as witty social commentary. Moderately than supply a recent tackle the state of affairs, it basically simply relays your frustration again to you undeveloped.

At the very least the performances are stable. Sheridan Smith succeeds within the function of Mel, a closely pregnant girl deserted by the daddy of her little one, dealing with the prospect of giving start alone. It’s primarily a solo efficiency, but for probably the most half, convincing and compelling. Angela Griffin is one other spotlight as psychiatrist Rochelle, who is tasked with counselling a difficult affected person over video name. She has a few genuinely humorous moments, together with one killer digicam look that places Tim from The Workplace to disgrace.

Satirically, the most important weak spot of Isolation Stories, that being its transient runtime, is additionally its saving grace. Though the contrived character arcs go away lots to be desired, it’s over earlier than you may get bored and the minimal time funding makes it exhausting to really feel disgruntled. They’re basically innocent lockdown fables, sharing agreeable morals reminiscent of ‘be delicate to these round you’ and ‘don’t order inessential gadgets from busy warehouses’.

It’s an admirable effort, but you possibly can in all probability convey these messages simply as successfully in a well-worded tweet.

Isolation Stories airs at 9pm on ITV, with 4 episodes airing from Monday to Thursday – try what else is on with our TV Information


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