Black Mirror

Started by Chris L, Jun 23, 2017, 05:14 pm

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Chris L

Jun 23, 2017, 05:14 pm Last Edit: Jun 24, 2017, 04:51 pm by Chris L
I've been wanting to post about this show for more than a year, but couldn't decide whether to do it on Facebook (where it would vanish into thin air after a day or two) or in one of my blogs (where only a few people would see it). Where I really wanted to post about it was on FTC. And here we (almost) are.

For those who haven't watched it, Black Mirror was initially a UK Channel 4 original anthology series that wound up finding its widest audience on Netflix, so it's now a Netflix original. It's the best and most intelligent representation of short form science fiction that I've ever seen on television. The episodes are almost all written by Charlie Brooker, who I gather has a high profile in the UK as a "presenter" (what Americans would call a "host" if we called it anything at all) on a number of TV shows.

The plots all involve a minor (or major) extrapolation on modern communications technology, any device (computer, smartphone, iPad) that has a black, mirror-like screen when turned off. Now that Brooker is being forced to turn out a full season's worth of episodes each year (the first Netflix season already has as many episodes as Channel 4 produced over several years), he's coming up with an amazing number of variations on this premise and they're all beautifully made, and often deeply affecting emotionally.

For anyone who hasn't watched it, I suggest you watch the episodes out of order, skipping the first (and least representative) episode, "The National Anthem." (When you see it later, you'll thank me for suggesting you watch it last.) Go straight to "Fifteen Million Merits" or "Be Right Back" or "San Junipero," which I thought were the most powerful episodes of a powerful show, though you might find that you prefer others. Even the first episode is powerful, but in ways that might have the wrong emotional effect for some viewers. (I turned it off halfway through the first time I tried watching it and only went back to it later myself.)

If you have watched it (or want to know more about it first), jump right in! And note that you don't need to be a science fiction fan to love this show. It's accessible to anyone who knows what a smartphone is.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Leighton

This is another series I've been dying to watch and somehow never get 'round to!  Huge amounts of my friends have sen it and agree with you: some of the best television out there at the moment (though it is a Channel 4 production, not BBC ;) )

It seems it might be a piece of TV that is completely and totally of the moment; interested to see if it holds up in 20 years or so.
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

Chris L

Jun 24, 2017, 10:22 am #2 Last Edit: Jun 24, 2017, 10:33 am by Chris L
Quote from: Leighton on Jun 24, 2017, 05:03 amThis is another series I've been dying to watch and somehow never get 'round to!  Huge amounts of my friends have sen it and agree with you: some of the best television out there at the moment (though it is a Channel 4 production, not BBC ;) )

It seems it might be a piece of TV that is completely and totally of the moment; interested to see if it holds up in 20 years or so.

I was so sure it had said BBC in the credits that I didn't even bother to check. That'll teach me to get overconfident. 🙀

Yeah, some of the episodes will probably date quickly, but that's true of science fiction in general, especially science fiction set in the near future. On the other hand, the production values are so high that it's going to be a long time before it has the cheesy look of an old TV show, which tends to date television faster than the premises do.

On the third hand, some episodes will probably be described later as "eerily prescient," even if they only land in the general ballpark of something that actually happens, the way you could say that H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau was an eerily prescient description of genetic engineering, even though he got all the details wrong. Amy immediately noticed that the episode "The Waldo Moment" is an eerily prescient description of Donald Trump's campaign in America. Of course, it gets all the details wrong, but in this case that doesn't matter.

And the human aspects of the show will never date. Those are what will make people want to see it 20 years from now even after it's apparent that the speculative aspects are wrong.

You really should watch it. I think it's the best thing on Netflix.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Leighton

I might just chuck a couple of episodes on tonight and see what al the fuss is about ;)
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

mrssondheim

I really enjoyed the series.  Some episodes more than others.  VERY Twilight Zone ish.  I would love a second season of it.
A blank page or canvas. My favorite.

Leighton

I love the original Twilight Zone, so hoping this stands up (or surpasses!) :)
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

Chris L

Quote from: Leighton on Jun 24, 2017, 12:06 pmI might just chuck a couple of episodes on tonight and see what al the fuss is about ;)

If you only have time for one episode, make it "Fifteen Million Merits," the second episode of the first season.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Chris L

Quote from: Leighton on Jun 24, 2017, 12:16 pmI love the original Twilight Zone, so hoping this stands up (or surpasses!) :)

What I like about it is how much UNlike Twilight Zone it is. Serling tended to stretch about five minutes of plot into a half hour episode and padded it out with pseudo-Shakespearean monologues by overly chatty characters, while Black Mirror lets the visuals work for it. And Twilight Zone relied heavily on surprise endings to make the story work, while Black Mirror plots are interesting (and gripping) in themselves, though they often have surprise endings.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Leighton

I have just started with the first episode - enjoying it immensely.  I should think I'll watch all three of season 1 before bed!
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

Chris L

Quote from: Leighton on Jun 24, 2017, 01:29 pmI have just started with the first episode - enjoying it immensely.  I should think I'll watch all three of season 1 before bed!

Good plan! (But very brave to start with that first episode. ;) )
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Leighton

Well, it appears to only be half a step removed from what our actual former Prime Minister did in his youth.  I can stomach it ;)
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

Chris L

Quote from: Leighton on Jun 24, 2017, 01:52 pmWell, it appears to only be half a step removed from what our actual former Prime Minister did in his youth.  I can stomach it ;)

Yes. I saw some news articles that commented ironically on the resemblance. ;) (A good example of the show being "eerily prescient.")
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

DiveMilw

I ♥️❤️♥️ Black Mirror ❣️
I no longer long for the old view!

Leighton

I have just binged the first three episodes, and have decided on one more before bed!  It is gripping, and beautifully acted, and gorgeously written.  I think The Entire History of You was my favourite of the first three, though all three were superb.

I'm so glad I got my arse in gear tonight and watched them.
Self indulgence is better than no indulgence!

Chris L

Jun 24, 2017, 04:26 pm #14 Last Edit: Jun 24, 2017, 04:34 pm by Chris L
Quote from: Leighton on Jun 24, 2017, 03:37 pmI have just binged the first three episodes, and have decided on one more before bed!  It is gripping, and beautifully acted, and gorgeously written.  I think The Entire History of You was my favourite of the first three, though all three were superb.

I'm so glad I got my arse in gear tonight and watched them.

I'm glad you did too. BTW, Robert Downey, Jr., according to Wikipedia, has taken an option on the movie rights for "The Entire History of You." I don't know if he plans to star in it, direct, or just produce.

The company that manufactures the "grains" (Granular, maybe?) pops up again in a later episode. Black Mirror is very self-referential, implying that all these stories take place in a common future. This becomes most obvious in what Netflix lists as the first episode of Season Three (though it's actually Channel 4's "Christmas Episode" of the show).
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?