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Thread: Black Mirror

  1. #1

    Black Mirror

    Has anyone been watching C4's Black Mirror ?
    Written by Guardian write Charlie Brooker. I accidentally caught an episode tonight, "White Bear" which was pretty dark. This is the second series, with only 3 episodes in the first series - are they worth watching, and all equally as dark?

  2. #2
    Ginger Yellow's Avatar
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    Black Mirror

    White Bear was probably as dark as it gets, or at least as unremittingly dark. Some of them have more (dark) humour in them. They're definitely all worth watching, but some are better than others.

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    Black Mirror

    White Bear seemed to crib a lot of its story elements from various other sources - including several video games - but managed to be about as unsettling as it gets. Grim.

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    Black Mirror

    Yeah, this episode reminded me a lot, at the start anyway, of Dollhouse, and specifically Epitaph One. The premise of the first episode of this season is lifted wholesale from Caprica. Brooker takes it in a very different direction, though.

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    Black Mirror

    Anyone else watch the special? Can we start talking spoilers yet?

  6. #6

    Black Mirror

    Just watched the first season on Netflix and its my new favorite show. It's like the Twilight Zone, but an hour, and British, and about contemporary societal anxieties rather than the anxieties of the early 60s (space race, nuclear war, etc). It's like they asked me what show I'd like to see made and made it.

    Don't know when we'll see season 2 or this special you're talking about.

    I take it that it's getting some buzz over there. It has a lot of recognizable actors. Like White Bear had the woman from the British version of Being Human (which is awesome. As was the North American version) and the one about the world where everyone rides bikes to make energy (which actually seems like kind of a good idea to some extent) had the actress from Downton Abbey that I fancy.

    The pig-fucking one was really good and sad. Not for the PM, but for the pig.

    I don't know how much of the actual page-to-page writing he does, but Charlie Brooker's influence is very evident. All of the stuff he talked about on Screenwipe about with the state of the media and how society is shaped by it is explored...

    Except in the one about the world where everyone can download and replay every memory they have. That seemed to come from somewhere else. That's something I've occasionally pondered and having now seen that episode, my feelings about it are different. That was the best one I've seen, I think.

  7. #7

    Black Mirror

    I've been taken aback by my American friends getting into this show...it seems to be developing something of a following over there.

    See, we don't just give you swivel-eyed twonks like Piers Morgan, we do give you the odd good 'un.

    Ah good stuff, I can watch the whole thing on 4od...that's my evening sorted.

  8. #8

    Black Mirror

    Tall Pauls cavity walls wrote: I've been taken aback by my American friends getting into this show...it seems to be developing something of a following over there.

    See, we don't just give you swivel-eyed twonks like Piers Morgan, we do give you the odd good 'un.

    Ah good stuff, I can watch the whole thing on 4od...that's my evening sorted.
    Netflix, BBCA and PBS give us access to a lot of your shows.

    I think the key to selling this in the US is to make the Twilight Zone comparison. 50 years on, that still has a strong cult following on the SyFy channel.

  9. #9

    Black Mirror

    The White Christmas special looks quite good.

    The format akin to that of Trilogy of Terror (featuring Karen Black)

    I quite liked 'The Entire History of You' episode.

    The technology, while seemingly incredible, really can't be seen to be all that far fetched at all.

    I doubt I'd get one of those implants, mind.

  10. #10

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    Black Mirror

    I hope to be watching these soon.

    I don't know why I am telling you that though.

  11. #11

    Black Mirror

    Hugh Fatbastard wrote: The White Christmas special looks quite good.

    The format akin to that of Trilogy of Terror (featuring Karen Black)

    I quite liked 'The Entire History of You' episode.

    The technology, while seemingly incredible, really can't be seen to be all that far fetched at all.

    I doubt I'd get one of those implants, mind.
    Indeed, if it just records what the individual saw and heard - as opposed to what they thought about it - then we're not that far away from being able to build that. The technological barriers to the world shown on BM would be making it small and cheap enough for everyone to have one, plus having the wi-fi and cloud storage capacity to upload and hold onto all of that material. But there's no reason to think that is impossible.

    Various sci-fi/cyberpunk/anime stuff suggests that soldiers, police and maybe journalists would want to be able to record everything they see and hear at least sometimes. And that makes sense, although a small wearable camera would do that. Indeed, some people are already using GoPros like that. The issue then is just making it small and light enough to be completely unobtrusive and then having a way to quickly and cheaply upload and store all of it. That's not really so hard either (I mean, for science and engineering people to sort out. Not me. I don't know anything about that stuff).

    It was a remarkable episode because, as far as I can recall, that was the first thing on TV or film that ever explored the implications of people willingly recalling and sharing everything they saw. Most other treatments focus on the implications to privacy and democracy of total surveillance. That's touched on there too, but it was mostly about how it would impact personal relationships.

  12. #12

    Black Mirror

    The White Christmas special looks quite good.

    It certainly was good. It tickled me as I've a liking for 'compendium' ghost/horror stories due to the chocolate box factor - there's got to be something in there that I'd like - and this one worked extremely well. Nicely acted by the main leads, Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall, it had few drawbacks and even a tinge of dread if you think more than you should about one or two of the ideas featured (specifically the gadget that can make your sentient digital simulacra endure so many years in a day, without the luxury of sleep). I can understand the familiarity of some ideas, but the overall presentation was fresh and entertaining enough to overcome those hurdles, and Brooker's done a very good job here.

    As for the one drawback, it's getting to the 'twist' ending before the stories finish (Spall's 'baby' saga flagged itself before the payoff), but, that said, it really could have been beefed up with perhaps two more stories (my own personal preference here - when I'm into a 'compendium' film, I'm a little disappointed when the goodies run out. I like a good pack of about five yarns to keep me watching).

    In summary: well worth your time, and a reminder - to me especially - to visit the previous series should it ever be shown again.

  13. #13
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    Black Mirror

    Basically, I wasn't sure about it until halfway through, but from then on it all came together really well.[spoiler=What I said about it elsewhere:]So, it was very White Bear-ish, wasn't it? Mostly in a good way, but at times it felt a bit like it was going over old ground. The redemption, I guess, is that it ended up being extremely topical coming out within a week of the torture report. The casual brutality of the interrogator(s) at the end had a bit of extra bite that it wouldn't have had a week earlier. I was a bit put off by the casualness with which the characters accepted the "well it's not really real" twisted logic, both because it seems so obvious to me that a functionally equivalent mind is just as real for these purposes as the "original", but also because it didn't make sense in universe for the cookies not to be considered real - otherwise the confessions would have no evidential value. My other complaint about the episode is that it felt quite disjointed in the first half - the shifts from Jon Hamm's story to the description of his job and then to Spall's story were jarring and at first it was hard to see what the thread was supposed to be, both narratively and thematically. But it all fell into place fairly quickly once Spall's story got going - perhaps a bit too neatly. [/spoiler]

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    Black Mirror

    I am way late on this. One of my students has been watching on Netflix, which I don't have. But this show is airing on DirecTV's Audience Channel. I have only caught the 2nd half of an episode where people have memory chips implanted behind their ears and can review everything they've seen. And I'm halfway through the episode that follows where a woman uses social media site information to interact with her dead husband. The writing seems interesting and the stories look good, but it all seems a bit more depressing than I want right now.

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    Black Mirror

    danielmak wrote: The writing seems interesting and the stories look good, but it all seems a bit more depressing than I want right now.
    That's very Charlie Brooker. I love his stuff but sometimes the comedy misanthrope angle gets a bit much.

  16. #16

    Black Mirror

    I've seen the pig-fucking one. Put me right off my dinner.

  17. #17

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    Black Mirror

    Green Calx wrote: I've seen the pig-fucking one. Put me right off my dinner.
    This is the one my student told me about before describing some others. I wasn't too interested in this one, but coming out of what seems like 11 months of winter, I needed some sunshine TV.

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    I have to say that the one about the woman whose husband dies has stuck with me a bit, although part of that is because it was very sad in an existential way. The dummy husband (I don't really have a better term here other than pulling from Blade Runner with Replicant) stuck in the attic in the end but having no feelings was very odd. I know he has no feelings but still that existence is a bit depressing. I'll probably watch one or two more and make a choice about committing to this or sticking with NYPD Blue reruns amidst a backlog of football games on the DVR.

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    Black Mirror

    I'd suggest watching White Bear. It's probably the most powerful one, so it's a bit of a litmus test for the rest.

    Though lots of other people swear by The Entire History of You, which I think is one of the weaker ones.

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    Black Mirror

    Ginger Yellow wrote: I'd suggest watching White Bear. It's probably the most powerful one, so it's a bit of a litmus test for the rest.

    Though lots of other people swear by The Entire History of You, which I think is one of the weaker ones.
    The Entire History of You was the first one I saw, although I missed the beginning. White Bear airs on Monday, so I'll set the DVR to record.

  20. #20

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    Black Mirror

    matt j wrote: I hope to be watching these soon.

    I don't know why I am telling you that though.
    First two watched last night. Not sure I have anything to say about the first one, but I can see that it probably sets the tone about what to expect from the rest.

    Second one was very good (really, due to the strong performance from Daniel Kaluuya), and answered the question I've had for a while about whatever happened to Rupert Everett.

  21. #21
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    Black Mirror

    Had Black Mirror:White Christmas on disk all year and never watched it so decided to watch it tonight as a seasonal antidote to a terrible romcom we had just watched.

    Have to repeat what everyone has said here really apart from the fact that I didn't see the "daughter" end coming and didn't realise until after that the guys had been reminiscing in the grandfather's kitchen. I did get the "confession" ending beforehand however.

  22. #22

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    Black Mirror

    Late to the party as usual, but this is very well-made TV.

    White Christmas, White Bear and Be Right Back were the standout episodes for me.

  23. #23
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    Black Mirror

    Apparently, two more seasons of six episodes each have been commissioned, to be released on Netflix. Season 3 can be seen this Friday! Can barely contain myself in anticipation.

  24. #24
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    Black Mirror

    It's outstanding. Especially the first one about everyone rating everyone all the time. It's downright chilling and, as one reviewer said, about five minutes away.

    They're getting a lot of famous people to be in the episodes. Or, fairly famous people. Like Bryce Dallas Howard and Kelly Macdonald.

    I really think it might be my favorite show of all time - other than the Simpsons. Because usually I say that my favorite show ever is The Twilight Zone, but Black Mirror is TTZ in color, an hour long, with much better production values.

  25. #25

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    Black Mirror

    I'm enjoying this new series. This series has moved away somewhat from the bleak endings of the previous two; occasionally you'll finish an episode feeling positive. And there's been an attempt to make it more US friendly, which I've no trouble with.

    Shut Up and Dance was very much in the vein of previous seasons. It was made worse by the fact it's completely plausible with current technology. Nosedive was really quite unsettling, the more you think about it. I liked San Junipero too.

    Of the ones I've watched (the first four), the only one I had misgivings about was Playtest. I still haven't fathomed out the ending; maybe I'll watch it again.

    But I'm glad shows of this quality are still getting made.

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