Black Mirror


#223

I finally watched Metalhead. Meh. Reenvisioning the Terminators as drone/dog things was okay I guess.

I really would’ve liked an explanation as to why the thing had teeny graspers built into the middle of his foreleg so that when the leg broke off it could still grab a knife.


#224

Given that they were designed as weapons without human operators, it makes sense that if the weapon’s primary function (leg gun) was disabled, there could be one stage of redundancy that would allow the bot to keep hunting without having to report home for repairs. Graspers make sense because it allows the bot to use its own judgment to figure out the best way to keep hunting (grab a knife, poke out eyes, pinch the target to death, whatever).


#225

I mean, grasping is pretty useful. Why wouldn’t you want your killer robot to be able to grasp things? Otherwise you’d have the old Dalek stairs issue, but with doors.


#226

Right, but in this case, the grasper was built into the middle of the leg where it was only useful after the foreleg was broken off.


#227

The inference I made was that the foreleg gun was an attachment, and that other tools could be swapped in and out.


#228

Probably should start a new thread, but if anybody’s looking for more SciFi anthology stuff Amazon Primes ‘Electric Dreams’ series up. Episodes based off of Philip K. Dicks short stories. Watched first one and it was pretty good.


#229

Callister: This one did less for me than it did for other people here. Not because it was lacking in execution but rather because its themes - men’s fantasy ideals of women are often screwed up even if they’re “nice guys,” unlimited agency and no consequences turns gamers into monsters etc. etc. - have been well-covered elsewhere. Even the extremely specific theme “life as a minor character in Star Trek is like being in hell” is better covered in Galaxy Quest and John Scalzi’s Red Shirts. Meanwhile, the less-well-trodden idea “fans often claim to admire the ethos of a bit of pop culture while completely ignoring that ethos in their own life” was tossed out there, but never really explored.

Arkangel: As many have said, the weakest episode of the season. Judged as a Black Mirror episode, one flaw is that the tech was irrelevant - the mother could very well gotten her info on the daughter in all sorts of other ways (you can imagine a version of this story being written in the late 19th century about the telephone.) Viewed as straight drama, the problem is that it’s lacking in flavorful specificity. The eternal conflict between a parent’s protectiveness and a child’s need to become their own person is a good seed for drama, but it needs something distinctive about the characters involved to make it memorable.

Crocodile: The tech is important for the final twist. Up to that point, though, this is is essentially a standard Columbo episode with the tech acting as a shortcut in place of police legwork. Judged as a Columbo episode it was perfectly fine. Though I never believed that character would kill more than one person, let alone violate that taboo at the end. Again, I need more to the characters than an archetype if we’re going to dwell on personal drama.

Hang the DJ: I liked it, though not as much as some other things like it such as Truman Show (as someone mentioned) or San Junipero. The leads were cute, though the middle “rinse and repeat” section was a bit of the slog. And some cynical part of me feels Booker put it in here because San Junipero was received so well. “Right then - one upbeat romance-themed episode per season it is!” That same cynical part responded to the ending with, “So … 1996 very happy sims were slaughtered just so you could use your dating app, you monsters.”

Metalhead: This was a superbly executed piece of action thriller filmmaking. It had a simple and compelling premise - you can imagine the bar napkin with “Boston Dynamics dog + Terminator” scrawled on it. The only issue being that the premise is so simple that it’s lightweight when compared to a typical Black Mirror episode. While you’re watching, though, it has so much momentum you don’t care a bit. (And that momentum solves the problem of the main character not being all that fleshed out. When things move fast, a small character detail like her talking to static on the walkie-talkie has an outsized impact.)

The twist at the end felt forced and beside the point (even if you take the Easter Egg interpretation that it’s a reference to Black Museum.) It felt like it was there because someone said, “It’s Black Mirror, it needs a big reveal at the end.”

Black Museum: As somebody said, at heart this is a simple revenge tale. I enjoyed it more than maybe it deserves. Partly because it pays homage to the narrative structures of the series’s influences (specifically Rad Bradbury - “Usher II,” The Illustrated Man, etc.) Partly because it pokes fun at Black Mirror itself ("… but.") But mostly because it does within the Black Mirror universe what Black Mirror does for the real world: pour a dose of mordant cold water on naive technological optimism. So you liked San Junipero, hmmm? How do you suppose that tech got developed?

The phrase, “monkey needs a hug” will haunt my dreams.

Someone asked why the episode is called “Black Museum.” Apart from any other double meanings, it’s primarily a reference to The Black Museum at New Scotland Yard in London, which is a real-world museum of crime.


#230

Aha that certainly clears some things up. No way average USA folks would know that.


#231

Callister is pretty creepy I must say (haven’t finished it), but I love Jesse Plemons’ Shatnerian diction as Captain A-hole.


#232

I really enjoyed that as well. It was an odd mix of totally Shatner and not Shatner at all.


#233

China seems to be determined to make every episode of Black Mirror a reality


#234

Is that how they’re selling forced labor camps too? After you work in this camp for 5 years, the life you return to will seem glorious comrade!


#235

I accidentally watched this one instead of the pilot episode and really liked it. Are the rest of the episodes just as good? Planning on starting from the actual beginning this time.


#236

That’s one of the better ones—depending on personal preference, maybe the best—but the show is kind of uneven. I’d say about 1/3 of them are somewhere between good and great, with the rest falling into “nothing special but the specific subject might resonate with the viewer” territory so it’s hard to just say which episodes to watch and which to skip.


#237

Well that’s disappointing - guess I shouldn’t get used to that level of talent & production value throughout the whole show? Wish I hadn’t started on such a high note! I’ll give it a go at least.


#238

Go watch the 1st season 1st episode. That will give you a good contrast.


#239

As discussed, I think S1 E1 is among the best, but that’s not a popular opinion round here. Talent is consistently high, but production values are definitely higher in later and especially Netflix seasons. It’s never cheap in the way some British shows can be, it just usually has lower production ambitions in terms of locations and VFX.


#240

Talent? Almost always excellent. Production? Almost always excellent, though rarely even close to as ambitious as USS Callister.

It’s the stories they’re telling that can vary from excellent to predictable to dumb.


#241

Ok, that makes me feel better. Thanks for the feedback!


#242

I feel the opposite of Wholly Schmidt, for me 2/3 have been good to great with 1/3 being just ok. As he mentioned a think each episode will resonate more/less with different people. A lot of people have seemed to hate the black & white one from the most recent season, but I really liked it.