Monday, January 22, 2018

Black Is Back

I've been getting into Black Mirror.  This being a British show, it took me no time to finish all the episodes, since it's been on four seasons which means they've produced 19 hours so far.  It started in 2011 on the U. K.'s Channel 4, but has since moved to Netflix.  It tends to feature British actors, but also has some well-known American faces, such as Jon Hamm and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Black Mirror is an anthology show, somewhat like The Twilight Zone.  It's sci-fi, though of the sort that's set in the not-too-distant future, where society is mostly like today's world with certain advances in technology.  And generally, as the name indicates, things aren't going so well.

The show was created by Charlie Brooker, who's written most of the shows.  Half the fun in many episodes is trying to get your bearings after you've been dropped into a (slightly) new world.

All the hours (I call them hours, but they actually vary from about 40 to 90 minutes) seem to take place, if not in the same future, at least in ones that are closely related.  We see certain ideas more than once, such as consciousness digitally downloaded into a machine, or equipment that allows people to read a brain and see what others see.  There are also certain themes, like how easily and harshly people can punish others. (The most recent season made more connections between its episodes and previous ones--there seems to be an effort to put all the stories in a single universe, though I'm not sure that's a good idea.)

Most of the episodes are bleak.  Some could almost be described as horror--though without a supernatural element, unless you call futuristic technology supernatural.  Some have a more comic bent--though being comic doesn't necessarily make them any less grim.  And a few even manage happy endings.

Overall, the level of writing, acting, directing and design is high.  I've been checking out various episode rankings on the internet, and it's interesting how little they agree.  The show has had only a few clinkers, but the ones I thought didn't quite work are called the best by some, while some that I thought were great are ranked low.

So check it out and decide for yourself.


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