Black Mirror (2011– )
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This is NOT anti-utopian, it is an actual mirror of a utopian idea gone terribly wrong.
I've only watched 3 episodes so far and each one has made me think, made me go back and look again, made me ask myself why this had never occurred to me before.
I would call this sci-fi in the richest sense of the genre.... it is not about science, but how science affects human beings. The one thing that never seems to change is us. Technology evolves, mutates, advances and declines, but human beings, our feelings, our courage, fears, and desires remain within us.
I love this show. I hope you will love it too. And I hope you will think.
The resulting mix of bleak sci-fi, drama, satire and black comedy makes for highly intelligent Television and ranks among the most original and entertaining shows I've ever come across. The writing and directing are excellent and the cast includes such talented thesps as Domhnall Gleeson, Rory Kinnear, Toby Kebbell, Hayley Atwell, Jon Hamm, Jason Flemyng and Rupert Everett - to name but a few. Unique, fascinating and highly recommended. 9 stars out of 10.
Favorite Films: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054200841/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
I have always been interested in futurists and Brooker seems to fill the requirements for one. There is nothing in the first two installments that do not reflect current trends in our collective behavior but instead extrapolates where current trends in communications technology; avatars, social media and reality television might lead us if we do not seek to preserve what is beautiful and pure about our collective consciousness and humanity.
Having seen reviews here that feel there is no commentary embedded within these stories I couldn't disagree more. As the title suggests, Brooker's Black Mirror shows us a dark reflection of our selves and allows us to evaluate these scenarios through our own emotional filters.
There are no blatant soap box messages but I interpreted the narratives as cautionary tales and would hope that no one, when confronted with them, would hope for these near futures. The only thing holding them back from becoming reality is our own resistance to complacency and purely spectator culture.
Beyond these philosophical aspects, the program is incredibly well produced and executed in my opinion. The characters and sets create convincing realities and I was never once drawn out of the story due to poor acting, scripting or characterizations. I could not recommend this series more and hope that it will continue on. Congratulations to Brooker and company for their work and their apparent concern for all of us.
Each self-contained episode is brilliantly crafted and produced. The stories are compelling and the acting is phenomenal. This show is not for those looking exclusively for entertainment, as the episodes leave you with a distinctly empty feeling. Although this is obviously the intent, one cannot help but wonder at the creators' bleak outlook on the world. The presence of bestiality in the first episode could very well deter some viewers, but I would remind them that the show is Twilight Zone-esque in structure as well as theme. The episodes may be watched in any order, as they are all completely independent of one another. The second episode in particular is storytelling of the highest form.
Black Mirror is disturbing in the best possible way. It unflinchingly explores the issues of society through deeply intimate stories and characters and their interactions with technology. Let me be clear, it will not leave you feeling fulfilled. Watching it was an exhausting experience that shook me deeply. The thought provoking subject matter combine with powerful, desolate stories and excellent performances to create one of the most unique and brilliant shows that I have seen. It not only holds the viewer's attention while it plays, it enthralls your thoughts long after the credits roll.
The cast and set are different every time, but one theme I found recurring was that each episode was extremely haunting, and it definitely gets the viewer thinking about what could be if the world was just a little bit different. I don't think Black Mirror will appeal to everyone because some themes are a slightly uncomfortable especially in the pilot episode. So far the actors that have been cast have done an amazing job, and the writers have managed to make some far fetched ideas seem graspable. Basically this series is unlike anything else on TV and for that it gets a big thumbs up from me.
I don't want to write any spoilers, but what I will say is this if you want a drama with dark twist or a series that is completely Original make it Black Mirror.
As many others have pointed out, the series is superbly put together: the actors are great; the script, if anything, is minimalist and the production excellent.
This isn't reality TV. This picks out the darkest aspects of how are future in this this modern age could end up, in extremis....
Personally, I think it's a Facebook/Twitter/Flickr/Android/iPhone/Tab/internet horror story and whilst I think it's probably too brutal for most people, it is a reflection of how we give up and of ourselves to the digital, overwhelmingly public way that the world now wants us to be.
I love the show. Will it change my FB or other behavior? No but, truth be told, I might be watching out of the corner of my eye....
Depressive in a way, but also genius and defying! The way it makes you question and think about reality and our modern technological ages it's brilliant!
And although being fictional and mostly sci-fi, it's so realistic in the scariest way!
It's not about tech... it's about us and our "human nature", the good and the bad, our best and worst as humans and that is definitely the most disturbing aspect of it all.
Worth seeing it all with detailed attention cause it's probably one of the most intelligent and critical TV series done recently!!
Thank you Mr Brooker and all the team!
P.S.: the first two episodes are probably the most disturbing ones and it's curious that all the bad reviews focus only in the first one... Reading those bad reviews only make more sense to the all series idea... Shocking uh? But wouldn't we be all in the pub watching it?
After watching the second episode, I was left in shock about the jarring contrast from the first episode. It's so different than the prior, it's set in an alternate reality and is just.. unusual. Still dark, still intriguing, but didn't quite capture my imagination the way the first one did.
The third and final instalment was probably my favourite of the 3. It was again, completely unrelated from the previous 2, but it had a really interesting concept and narrative, and was executed phenomenally.
All in all, the series as a whole is very interesting, if somewhat inconsistent.
I'm shocked this has such a high rating on IMDb and disappointed I wasted a whole night watching this.
Really the first episode is about f$#%ing a pig..... I mean come on who wants to see this, yes I understand the episode was making a point but it was just.....awful.
Episode 1 is just so out-of-it and so unrealistic that it made me cringe.
In short: a royal family-member is kidnapped and the prime minister has to do an indecent act to set her free, live on TV. I thought: "No way, they will find a solution to it, because this is what the story about: twisting and turning to come up with something brilliant". Nope, they let the prime minister do an indecent act, live on TV so that the whole world can watch. To make it even worse, his whole staff is pushing him to do it!
I mean, common!!!!! How far away from realism can that be? I know it's not a documentary, but they might as well let some aliens come over and save the girl! There are few nations that give in to kidnapping. They might pay some ransom but they will definitely do it behind the scene. Usually, they crack down on them with brute force. So, to have a minister do an indecent act live on TV to "pay" for the ransom is just ridiculous. No nation that respects itself would even think of giving in to this!! At the end you even know who did it and why... that even ridicules the whole thing to a magnitude of 7.
I thought that maybe the second episode would be good, but it's even worse, because there is no tension behind it. Just something that drags on for an hour or so.
I went away from this series with one conclusion; Charlie Brooker cannot write drama well. His talents lie with casting an eye over the irritating aspects of media, succinctly cutting down the pretentiousness and rubbish churned out for our consumption with some accurate criticism and adolescent musings (see: Screenwipe, Newswipe etc.). That's what he's good at! Being funny and critical at the same time.
What he clearly isn't good at, and this is made all the more apparent by the 2nd series of Black Mirror, is fleshing out basic ideas for a drama into anything more than a GCSE Film Studies project with a budget. The characters aren't real, they're two-dimensional clichés. The constant references to social media and modern technology don't feel incidental, but desperate, like Charlie poking his head up from behind a prop screaming "Look how relevant this all is!" Twitter this, twitter that. The stories all feel like conversations down the pub after a few pints, "What if the prime minister had to shag a pig on live TV!" "Why would he do that?" "I dunno... terrorists?" Even with the suspension of disbelief, none of his writing delivers the impact or level of social commentary one would hope for.
'The Entire History of You' did what the other instalments didn't; characters that felt real, a relationship that felt real, underpinned but not obscured by plausible science-fiction. The 'what if' is answered with the expected pessimism present in all of the Black Mirror episodes, but it's still entertaining to watch the story unfold. I wish Jesse Armstrong had written all of Black Mirror, perhaps I would have had my expectations exceeded rather than trodden on.
Well worth a watch for the will he won't he suspense of the first episode.
make some time in your schedule to see this and look forward to discussing it with people afterwards.
Looking forward to this writing team coming back with more funds to deliver bigger and better.
the ten lines of text minimum is a real pain when you are in a hurry to watch the next episode.
1.1: This premise hinges on a man who recognises the actor brought in and posts his picture online, thus alerting the kidnapper to the deception. If such a critical and decisive operation were to take place, one would expect it would be handled with more professionalism and secrecy. The actor is walked to the entrance in the open, and the man takes the picture with no protest or rebuke before or after the incident (although the actor is 'rushed in' as if the phone was a gun. An outrageous scenario orchestrated for plot development? I think so. The Prime Minister's wife also appears to be exceedingly insecure about people's perceptions of her. One would think someone in her position would be better accustomed to sensationalism, scrutiny and disgruntled public opinion. You also wouldn't need to be in the public eye to know that comments on some websites should not be taken seriously.
1.2: I don't believe spending your life peddling for credits while living in confined cages under an advertising regime resembles a realistic premise, but perhaps it's not meant to be - the episode's sole purpose is to make an abstract comment about the nature of media, advertising and commercialism. As the world becomes more connected, the representation of an individual as a virtual caricature becomes more common, but only because of the nature and prevalence of such interaction. Technology is not responsible for this, human nature is. We have always objectified those furthest away from our grasp, and technology brings us closer to the same extent that it leaves us behind a barrier.
1.3: Is this technology wrong because of the scenario offered? Would objectifying memory cause more conflict than resolve, and signal the end of indiscretion and privacy? The answer is no, or rather no more than presently. We often recall and deliberate over our past experiences, and this technology wouldn't change that. Regarding the main story, we are presented with an impossible scenario (possibly the worst) and asked to choose between truth or privacy. If you are in a relationship where the question "Show me where you were last night?" consistently surfaces, trust issues or relationship flaws very likely exist. This is in contrast to what one would envision to be the typical application for this type of technology; Domestic disputes and crimes would be recorded just like everything else. They could be erased through force or intimidation, but it's very likely that such a system would have a backup capacity (much like Facebook does when you delete an account), so that deleting wouldn't stop the perpetrator from getting caught. This hypothetical scenario could in fact dramatically reduce the rate of crime committed, not increase it.
2.1: Be Right Back has a similar conundrum. This is a world where an artificial body can be grown and moulded from powder in hours (and stored with an infinite battery pack), but an artificial computer isn't able to properly mimic human reactions to emotions if it doesn't have 'sufficient data'. Contrary to what is stated, people have all types of online interactions these days that go far beyond pleasantries and encompass most of the emotional spectrum. For missing data, it wouldn't be hard for a system to calculate the best response specific to any individual for any given situation or emotion. By that time we would also have cars that drive themselves, avoiding accidents altogether. In fact, the Google driver-less car already exists. A better premise could focus on how surrogates would be treated and the legal implications of their existence.
2.2: If we possessed the technology to wipe away sinful memories, then this would be the most impractical use of it imaginable. Repeatedly wiping the memory of a criminal for continuous emotional torture and entertainment would be deemed highly immoral by any present or future civilisation. What would be the point of torturing someone who doesn't know what they've done wrong? The implications of memory wiping have been addressed in numerous films, notably Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For criminals, it could offer a blank slate or a second chance at life. For others it could wipe away traumatic and debilitating experiences to improve quality of life. These are all moral and legal grey areas, but still offer more realistic scenarios than shown here.
2.3: Not much to be said here. Could the team behind a satirical blue bear ever be approved to run for public office? The answer is no.
Constructing incomplete, cynical and misleading scenarios that only work to spread fear is simply pointless and counter-productive. A superior show would examine both sides and predict the future more accurately. A more pressing threat (possibly worth being a little paranoid about) is artificial intelligence, but this far exceeds the scope of this series- clearly this isn't the programme to watch if you're looking to educate yourself about science and technology.
But when season 3 started everything seemed different. It went from clever to mediocre acting and shallow writing. And these predictable plots are worked out in an action-for-the-sake-of-action package. So then we lost interest.
The page turner effect vanished somehow, it's almost like the later episodes are student films, which is a shame really, I'd prefer it if shows just stopped when the inspiration is gone.
Nevertheless, the first two seasons are definitely worth a watch.
The next episode is one about a hopefully-far future, where everything is commercial and false, and everybody is trapped and must play games to make false money to spend on false objects. They feed out of fake food-dispensing machines, which gives out fake, packaged fruit. It is an entirely commercial world, and there appears to be no outside. It shows two attempts to escape from the drag that life has become, each working, to an extent, before it becomes just as fake and dull as before. The way this is done is by going on an exaggerated, satire of a talent show and winning it. It features a lot of references to how people take the Nintendo Wii and gaming seriously, internet advertising and how wrong it seems and talent contests and how much they are a scam. A lot less realistic, yet again it is thoroughly entertaining and makes you think about how that could be where the world is going. The animation and product design is fantastic and so realistic. This episode also casts Julia Davis and Rupert Everett as the evil talent show judges who both do brilliant acting.
The third is a dark 'love' story set in the near-future about how wrong it could be if people could re-watch their memories and show others. People seem to be forced to have small chips implanted behind their ears so their vision is being recorded and can be played back on any screen using a small tool and a super-fast, Wi Fi that is everywhere. It's idea is that people could become obsessed with the past and search their memories for tiny details, eventually causing insanity and a bad ending. It follows a man who obsesses over the behaviour of his girlfriend at a party the last night and the idea that she is having an affair with a man he clearly hates who was at the party. It (very psychologically) goes through him trying to find out whether she is having an affair or not, and eventually completely loosing it and using the memory-viewer, proves that she is. The 'proof' though, is never revealed to be completely genuine. In the end, he realises his life has been ruined by the memory-viewer, so, using a blade and tweezers, cuts out the memory-viewing chip. The product design and effects were the best yet, the chips behind the ears and the creepy way in which when people view their memories their eyes glow a dead white, which adds to the foreboding and tense atmosphere.
I never knew how intelligent Charlie Brooker was until I saw this. Utterly phenomenal. I have never seen anything like this on Channel 4 and certainly recommend it to anyone who is open to wacky ideas and darker subjects.
Thank you for reading.
I can only speak from my perspective of being an older American male who grew up on the original Twilight Zone TV series. From my perspective, Black Mirror is slow, boring, and it is an insult to the original TZ show to have this show compared to it. The TZ made clear points by usually having a discovery twist at the end of the episode. I don't believe this show comes anywhere close to that.
Black Mirror is not something I'm going to do what I consider to be wasting my time watching. I tried to watch a few episodes from the different seasons, but It's just not a very good show in my opinion.