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Black Mirror


Review Aquaman (2018)

Review Extraction (2020)


Full Member
I tried to post this in the Film Review section of the forum but it kept telling me I was trying to post a TV show, and did not allow it. (It posted the action film Extraction instead, because I'd used that one as a test case in the preview.) So I'm putting it here, just because.

Black Mirror, in case you haven't heard of it, is a British anthology science fiction series, sort of on the model of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside, but themed around how technology is transforming human life and creating new realities. The "Black Mirror" of the title refers to screens, ubiquitous in the modern world. Available on Netflix if anyone is interested.

Here are the episodes I've seen from most to least favorite.

1) Fifteen Million Merits. Tender and acid, poignant and cruel, this elegant black comedy parable of art and commerce manages to say volumes about consumerism, the commodification of dissent and the emptiness of contemporary existence in one short hour. It doesn't just give us two people; it also skillful and economically sketches an entire society and a way of life around them. -

2) Shut Up and Dance. This episode is part of a group of episodes (the others being White Bear, White Christmas) I like to call Crime and Punishment. It centers on the theme of how we as a society deal with people who have transgressed against our laws, what is justice, what is punishment? Shut Up and Dance is perhaps the most relentless and the most effective illustration of the show's concerns. Not for the faint of heart.

3) Be Right Back. Black Mirror doesn't get enough credit for how tonally varied it is. If you'd only seen Fifteen Million Merits and Shut Up and Dance, you'd never guess the poignant sense of loss would be in the show's repertoire, but it is. This story about a grief stricken woman who manages to bring back an imperfect facisimile of her husband is one of hte best things I've ever seen on the subject of grief.

4) USS Callister. This episode is in the lighter scifi adventure vein. It's the episode most newcomers to the show find easiest to like. More or less a Star Trek parody, but also much more.

5) Hang the DJ. Black Mirror does rom com too and does it very well. Charming.

6) and 7) White Bear and White Christmas. See 2)

8) The Entire History of You. One the theme of surveillance, infidelity and trust. A tad schematic.

9) Bandersnatch. This experiment in narrative technology uses Netflix's interactive storytelling software to create a more meta than meta story about a programmer trying to adapt a choose your own adventure book into a video game. The problem is that reality starts falling apart on our hero. He has what can only be described as a psychotic break as he feels his agency is being taken away; he's convinced he's being forced against his will to do horrible things and to make destructive choices. Of course, he is; he's being forced by us, who are making all of the choices. This is a really interesting use of the interactive technology, and it's function here is to make the user feel responsible for the dreadful things that are happening on the screen. (I tried to make the most benign choices, the ones I thought would make people happy, but found that the game kept steering me back towards the "worst choices.) Regular fourth wall breaking is the characters looking out at the world at speaking to us; this fourth wall breaking allows us to reach inside and do our worst.

10) Playtest. A conventional horror story based on a virtual reality trope. Not badly done, but a bit by the numbers.

11) The National Anthem. This episode, the first one to drop in Season 1, is just one big dirty joke, but what a joke it is.

12) San Junipero. A love story. Inferior, for my money, to Hang the DJ.

13) Striking Vipers. What would the real implications of truly immersive virtual reality be? What if you could create a virtual body of another gender, and inhabit that body? This episode is the funny and disturbing answer to that question.

14) Men Against Fire. Sort of like a Philip K. Dick story.

Review Aquaman (2018)

Review Extraction (2020)