Black Mirror is basically a series of often darkly comedic parables or satirical vignettes riffing on elements of our modern lives. Episodes usually focus on a singular idea or theme that are taken to not entirely preposterous but provocative extremes. The pilot episode ‘The National Anthem’ is as good an example as any and arguably the strongest episode so far (although I loved ‘The Entire History of You’ which my other half tells me Robert Downey Jr. has picked up to make into a full length film). With Charlie Brooker being the acerbic commentator he is, there’s usually a lot of really funny and biting incidental stuff in each episode as well, besides the overarching idea/theme.
I highly recommend watching it though, terrific television. The most recent episode ‘Be Right Back’ I thought was interesting, but yeah, it didn’t have much of a payoff given its length. The idea seemed to run its course within the first thirty minutes or so and after that it just sort of veered off-road and petered out. Nevertheless, looking forward to next week’s episode.
So I watched the first episode. Thoughts behind the spoiler button
Season 2 Episode 1 spoilers, but not much
I really liked it. The premise was indeed straight out of Caprica, but it went in a very different direction with it - where Caprica was all about the artificial personality being a full, individual person in its own right, the opposite was the case here. It had a lot of echoes of The Entire History Of You, but was more successful, I think.
Probably. Even leaving aside the cancellation, it never quite fulfils its promise, and some of it is quite cheesy, but there’s some good stuff in there about what it means to be a person and such. Proper BSG themes, but with a lot of teenage angst stuff layered on top. It’s worth watching, but don’t expect too much.
Well, you could probably use a VPN to watch it for free on 4OD, Channel 4’s UK streaming outlet. More legitimately, the first season is available on UK DVD, so you could import that if you have a multi-region player.
Ahhh, there she is. I like that it’s a button with no icon. Sneaky.
So yeah, disjointed:
I was really enjoying that episode up until the Truman Show bit. If someone had described an episode revolving around theme park where criminals are put through some fictional scenario over and over, I would have said that it sounded like a bad Twilight Zone episode. I also really didn’t like how not one of the cast members or even the audience seemed sympathetic at all to the main character. I know the baseline for what passes for reality is played kinda fast and loose in this show, but everyone having the same lockstep attitude in the second half felt over the top and cartoon-ish to me. My foremost complaint, though is that the twist seemed way too grafted on, aside from the light bits of telegraphing with her memory and ‘predictions’. I suppose I would have been disappointed if it just went the zombie apocalypse route of not really resolving anything within the fiction they initially presented. But it was just so damn compelling for me up until then.
I liked the u-turn it did because the first part felt like Derren Brown’s Apocalypse in that it seemed a bit phony and unbelievable. In fact, the gated installation that the show took the protagonist to reminded me no end of Apocalypse’s. At first I thought this episode was going to be riffing on people’s obsessions with recording stuff on their mobile devices without actually paying much attention to whatever it is they’re recording but it turned out to be much more interesting and proactive than that. The whole voyeuristic dissonance is still there but I liked the eye-for-an-eye ‘be careful what you wish for’ angle.
Just caught up with both episodes. I like how they ask questions rather than preach. It’s actually what I would consider classic, near future s-f (set up a plausible technology and see how we might react to it).
In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if, rather than Twilight Zone, what he’s hearkening back to is how classic s-f was handled on British tv back in the mid to late 60s. In fact, there was one s-f series on UK tv that I vaguely remember that was done like its more “serious” contemporary cousin drama series, The Wednesday Play, except it was s-f short stories from classic authors. This reminds me of that.
And the twist in the last episode I thought was good. It’s thought provoking on deeper issues than you might think up to the twist point.
Finally saw the last one. I kind of liked that fact that it was an echo of the very first episode (ie S1E01) in being focused on humiliating politicians and also overtly funny. I think I preferred the premises of the other two this season though.
I thought the idea was that any old c***s could be behind the entertaining frontages that politicians give us, we’d never know (only in this case we do know, it’s the sinister “agency” guy).
But actually this just points to the “economic” problem with democracy on a large scale - unlike more localized democracy, or the market nexus, whatever effort we put into understanding the issues is highly likely to be wasted since our individual decision is unlikely to make any difference to the result we get (compare a family voting on where to go for the holidays, or an individual buying a car). This being the case, voters tend not to put much effort into learning about the issues, and to vote on their intuitive sense of the personalities of the candidates. Which is kind of ok, and probably the optimum we can get until technology improves the situation somewhat (e.g. we can jack in and understand the issues as easily as we can look at a candidate and intuitively like or dislike them) … up to a point. i.e., up to the point where this quirk is understood and exploited by sinister forces.