Black Mirror: Season 1, Episode 2

Fifteen Million Merits (11 Dec. 2011)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 4,047 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 19 critic

In a bleak,automated future Britain, Bing is one of millions who pedal exercise bikes to create energy as a living. Their currency is merits, tokens with which to buy food from vending ... See full summary »

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Title: Fifteen Million Merits (11 Dec 2011)

Fifteen Million Merits (11 Dec 2011) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Bing
...
Abi
...
...
Judge Charity
...
Judge Wraith
...
Dustin
Isabella Laughland ...
Swift
...
Oliver
Colin Michael Carmichael ...
Kai (as Colin Carmichael)
...
Selma Telse
...
Glee
Eugene O'Hare ...
Hammond
Jaimi Barbakoff ...
Anna
Merce Ribot ...
Big Shot Registration Lady
Matthew Burgess ...
Botherguts Host
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Storyline

In a bleak,automated future Britain, Bing is one of millions who pedal exercise bikes to create energy as a living. Their currency is merits, tokens with which to buy food from vending machines and which can be increased or decreased according to which shows one watches on giant television screens. A popular choice is 'Botherguts', which humiliates over-weight citizens. But Bing uses his merits as entrance money to get sweet-voiced fellow worker Abi onto the TV talent contest 'Hot Shot'. Unfortunately, despite her talent, she is but one of a glut of singers and ends up on the porn channel 'Wraith Babes'. An enraged Bing saves up another lot of merits and gets onto 'Hot Shot' to denounce its falseness. But will he be seen as a new Messiah or a voice crying in the wind and forced to sell out? Written by don @ minifie-1

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Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

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11 December 2011 (UK)  »

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16:9 HD
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The song Abi Kahn sings during "Fifteen Million Merits" is "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)", recorded by Irma Thomas in 1964. See more »

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User Reviews

15 Million Credits: Good idea that is solidly done but doesn't hit home as hard or as quickly as it should
15 June 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The first episode of this series was a real doozey; it thrilled, engaged and disgusted all in the context of damning society with its realism and dark, ugly view. The second episode sees a futuristic story which seeks to condemn modern society again, with a similar range of topics. In the future, workers cycle endlessly to generate electricity while earning credits which can be spent on food, accommodation, entertainment or just generally stuff they don't need that has no reality or value. We follow one guy through this as he finds something he thinks is worth more than money. In essence this episode puts virtual worlds, online social interaction, exploitative entertainment and more on trial and goes at it for its sheer hollowness.

As an idea it is a good one. In some ways it will seem exaggerated but those that think it is vastly unrecognizable simply do not have the awareness of reality. All the things within this fictional world are real – from online avatars and virtual products through to people working pointless mind-numbing jobs for the sake of it and of course the specter of cruel reality television and manufactured dreams. All of it is fair game and in a way the episode is mostly successful in how it does it. The kick in the tail is solid and the general delivery does a good job of damning the bigger picture and the detail. That said, it is a little heavy handed in how it does it – certainly when viewed to the much cleverer scenario of the first episode. It also doesn't help that it unfolds slower than it should – I'm not sure why this episode ran to over an hour, but it doesn't warrant it. The irony within that is that some aspects of the story seem to happen too quickly and easily for the sake of the narrative.

The conclusion is nice but in retrospect doesn't sting as it should and I did wish it had had more teeth and bite. Visually the world is good and the ideas are sometimes just a step away from reality. I watched this just a week after Xbox announced their new "always listening" console with its daily online checks required to keep it working and its use of hand gestures etc to operate it, so yes seeing this world here often did not seem too far-fetched and indeed in some ways was eerily close. Paying to skip adverts and "content" was the one that really just seemed like it is only a few steps of "progress" away.

The cast make the episode work well in the most part. Kaluuya plays the lead well and does good work in the later stages, even if it is hard for him not to overplay (since the situation calls for it). The three judges are an obvious clone and none of them really did more than impersonate their real counterparts. There are moments of humanity in here and I thought that Findlay and Laughland both delivered in small touches that worked.

Overall, this episode was very much in the shadow of the strong opening story. It has good ideas and it mostly works but it does it slower than it should and it never really bites so much as nibbles and barks. It is still solidly done and I enjoyed it, but I hope the third episode is closer in quality to the first rather than the second one.


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