Black Mirror

C

Captain Scumbag

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Anyone else watching?

Episode 1 – Nosedive

I really liked this and not just because I totally heart Bryce Dallas Howard and would have loved the episode if it had been nothing more than a 60-minute close-up of her scowling while trying to work out Windows 10 .

It does what I think science fiction ought to do (and what quite a few Black Mirror episodes don't), which is express contemporary concerns through stories set in nightmarish, hyperreal alternative worlds. Though highly fictional and futuristic, the world of Nosedive is instantly familiar. So many of its features – the addiction to social media, the rampant vanity publishing , the phoniness, the censoriousness, the bullying, the status anxiety, the ridiculous spectacle of 20 and 30-somethings infantilised by technological toys – are already part of the physiognomy of our time.

This is one of the better Black Mirror episodes in my opinion. It works as a morbidly funny piece of satire. It's visually striking – a pristine, pastelised hell very reminiscent of Spike Jonze’s Her. The storytelling is economical and affecting. Bryce is fucking fabulous. The moment of catharsis, when it comes, is one of the feel-good television moments of the year.

Mrs Scumbag complained that all the world building and storytelling ultimately didn't add up to much – that the moral of the story can be broken down to something trite and platitudinous like "be yourself". It should be pointed out, however, that Mrs Scumbag liked Fortitude, which immediately renders all her opinions about contemporary television wrong.

8.5/10
 
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Son of Cod

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#2
Yep watched them all on the weekend they came out. As you point out, Nosedive is definitely one of the better episodes in terms of creating an environment in which everything has kind of gone to pot but that could actually quite possibly happen. Was very Brave New World; the happy clappy nature of those adhering to the rating system, the darker consequences for those who don't, the John the Savage lady in the truck, etc.

Best to worst, in my opinion...
1. Hated in the Nation
2. Nosedive
3. San Junipero
4. Shut up and Dance
5. Men Against Fire
6. Playtest
 

Smudge

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#3
I missed it first time around, so have just started watching the first series. Its very good so far, horribly dark.
 
C

Captain Scumbag

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I'll rank the episodes when I've seen them all.

Episode 2 - Playtest


The protagonist of Playtest is an American backpacker in London – an amiable but dimwitted sort who, like most American backpackers, gets more tiresome with each passing minute. IMDb tells me the actor who plays him is Kurt Russell's son, which is somewhat disconcerting because he looks more like Justin Lee Collins. Anyway, the big lug has no money. So what to do? Call his recently widowed mother (who is clearly anxious to know his whereabouts) and ask for help, or volunteer for a super-secretive video game test programme in the middle of nowhere. The latter. Obviously.

Unfortunately for our hero, the video game company is headed by a sociopathic Chinaman hell bent on creating the next big thing in immersive video gaming. So instead of getting paid a few hundred quid to play a ropey demo of Resident Evil 42 (or whatever), he gets some hideous device – some mind-burrowing, fear-detecting, perception-fucking device – implanted in the back of his head and is left alone in a dimly lit house. Bat shit crazy shenanigans inevitably follow.

The episode works well enough as piece of trippy psychological horror, with effective direction and decent performances throughout. But that's it. I expect a bit more from Black Mirror. I want it to capture something of the zeitgeist, reflect back to me something horrid about our misuse of technology and then explore the various social and psychological implications. This episode lacks that sort of satirical focus. The threat is the games developer re-imagined as the mad scientist. The danger isn't a form of technology that has permeated every day life; it's unethical experimentation in the middle of nowhere. Unless there are concerns about game developers indulging in morally questionable R&D (I honestly don't know – my last console was an N64), it's difficult to see what Brooker is getting at here. Perhaps nothing.

This is kinda forgettable.

5/10
 
M

Martino Knockavelli

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Thread starter #5
Watched the first one. It's very middle period Douglas Sirk. The idea of building a gilded prison cell for oneself; societal expectation and politesse/pretence/projection as a sort of unspoken but mutually enforced hand cuff... a debt acknowledged in the 50s stylings of some of the hair dos/outfits and the picket fence setting I think... All That iCloud Allows...








(sadly they lacked the chutzpah to go full Russell Metty with the framings and compositions).

And like Sirk it sort of is a wee bit broad and platitudinous, innit. Or at least operating on that basis. It's in the mode of melodrama.
 

Son of Cod

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#6
I'll rank the episodes when I've seen them all.

Episode 2 - Playtest


The protagonist of Playtest is an American backpacker in London – an amiable but dimwitted sort who, like most American backpackers, gets more tiresome with each passing minute. IMDb tells me the actor who plays him is Kurt Russell's son, which is somewhat disconcerting because he looks more like Justin Lee Collins. Anyway, the big lug has no money. So what to do? Call his recently widowed mother (who is clearly anxious to know his whereabouts) and ask for help, or volunteer for a super-secretive video game test programme in the middle of nowhere. The latter. Obviously.

Unfortunately for our hero, the video game company is headed by a sociopathic Chinaman hell bent on creating the next big thing in immersive video gaming. So instead of getting paid a few hundred quid to play a ropey demo of Resident Evil 42 (or whatever), he gets some hideous device – some mind-burrowing, fear-detecting, perception-fucking device – implanted in the back of his head and is left alone in a dimly lit house. Bat shit crazy shenanigans inevitably follow.

The episode works well enough as piece of trippy psychological horror, with effective direction and decent performances throughout. But that's it. I expect a bit more from Black Mirror. I want it to capture something of the zeitgeist, reflect back to me something horrid about our misuse of technology and then explore the various social and psychological implications. This episode lacks that sort of satirical focus. The threat is the games developer re-imagined as the mad scientist. The danger isn't a form of technology that has permeated every day life; it's unethical experimentation in the middle of nowhere. Unless there are concerns about game developers indulging in morally questionable R&D (I honestly don't know – my last console was an N64), it's difficult to see what Brooker is getting at here. Perhaps nothing.

This is kinda forgettable.

5/10
Pretty much how I felt about it. Could have easily been plumped out with half an hour of gore, suspense and some more introductory party/sex scenes then repackaged, relabelled and exported as a disappointing horror film. It felt very much like a filler episode. I suspect the fact that they slashed the initial Netflix 12 episode announcement down to 6 for series 3 was because they were struggling to meet deadlines and I wouldn't be surprised if this one was the best of what they had left.
 

spireite_uk

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#7
I love Black Mirror, it's one of my favourite things on TV. The San Junipero episode really got to me for some reason. There was something beautiful about the thought that people are effectively vegetables have a place they can go to enjoy themselves. And the episode kept me guessing the first half of it , honestly had no idea where it was going.
 

Jockney

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#8
I thought the first episode captured the essence of the 'information' age/post-modernity/post-post-modernity/whatever (but more specifically neo-liberalism) for a lot of people: a sort of alienation, an hollow valorisation of even the most mundane of daily social relations. I'm not big into Foucauldt, and I don't buy the idea that a purist interpretation of economic liberalism leads to a sort of biopolitical fascism, but I think what he says about human capital was represented very strongly in some of the specifics of Rashida Jones' script, particularly the scene at the airport and the complex network of popularity algorithms that dictate who you're allowed to be friends with and even who should be maid of honour at your own wedding. It was very humanistic, for lack of a better word, too -- a problem that I had with some episodes of previous series, that they settled too easily into fatalism or even nihilism.
 
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Stringy

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#9
The first episode was annoying. I know people who are like that on Instagram, posting photos with hashtags so they get likes from people they've never met. What are they hoping to achieve?

The second episode had a few cool horror scenes but seemed to lack direction.

The third episode was quite good. I wasn't expecting that twist at the end. I've watched this episode again and the clues are really obvious at the beginning.

Episode four I liked. You would hope that your loved ones would stay with you. The music in this episode was great. The main character was definitely aiming for the Whitney Houston look.

I felt uneasy through the fifth episode. It had all the features of a genocide (classification, symbolisation, dehumanisation, organisation etc) except the people involved would have no idea what they'd done.

Episode six was okay. It brought back memories of Trainspotting which is a film I watched twice and greatly enjoyed.

Overall, season 3 was hit and miss which is what I expected based on the seasons which appeared before. There were episodes that I didn't like in the last two seasons, like that X-Factor one and the political teddy bear.
 

Mr. Scruff

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#10
Surprised not a single post about series four. Suppose this place is dead

Anyway finished it last week and despite thinking that they have probably run out of unique ideas and shock value on the whole it was a stronger run than last season but not as good as the channel four episodes. My favourite episode of ths season was almost definitely black museum followed by hang the dj and u.s.s callister. Of the other three I really enjoyed metalhead for what it was despite it having nothing interesting to say whilst arkangel felt too familiar and crocodile just got a bit silly.

Updated Ranking

Top episodes

1-San Junipero
2-White Rabbit
3- White Christmas
4- an entire history of you
5 The national anthem
6 -black museum
7- uss callister
8- hang the dj
9- shut up and dance
10- be right back

very enjoyable episodes

11- a million merits
12- hated in the nation
13- men against fire
14- metalhead
15- nosedive
16- arkangel

decent tv but substandard by black mirrors standards

17- crocodile
18- the waldo moment
19- playtest
 
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Leewilson

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#11
Hang the DJ was excellent. Agree that USS Callister and Black Museum were up there.

I see Playtest got a bit of criticism. I liked it but then again, I’m a horror fan.
 

PaulHaddock

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#12
Season 4 ranking:

Callister
Black Museum
Hang the DJ
Crocodile
Metalhead
Arkangel

Top 5 overall episodes:

Shut Up and Dance
White Christmas
Callister
Waldo Moment
15 Million Merits

Though Shut Up and Dance was quite a plain setting for a Black Mirror episode, I think it showed the terror of what the current Internet age is.
Took me a while to realise that the guy was actually a paedo.

White Christmas is just a brilliantly made episode and the best of the series, minus Rafe Spall.
 

Darlo On Tour

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#13
A choose your own adventure episode of the show is in the works for Season 5, and that It'll debut before the end of 2018. Netflix hasn't yet revealed the planned release date for Season 5, but It's been widely theorized that like the previous Netflix seasons, it would be a fourth-quarter release.

(Season 3 debuted on Netflix on October 21st, 2016. Season 4 came out on December 29th, 2017.) The new series of Black Mirror will include an episode where viewers can choose their own storyline.

The choose-your-own-adventure style special will be part of Netflix's foray into interactive TV, blending functions from video games into the traditional series format.
 

KevinMcallister

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#15
Black mirror:Bandersnatch is live today on Netflix

a revolutionary new tv show idea making it interactive for the viewer as you watch

sounds very interesting and Black Mirror in itself is a great watch
 

Son of Cod

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#20
I thought it was a bit stupid. Most of the time the choices you make don't actually do anything. It just takes you back to certain points and then you have to choose whatever you were supposed to choose the first time round. I had to end up watching certain bits a few times which was annoying.
 

FishyMackem

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#21
That was the most annoying part. I've put a spoiler below for the one that annoyed me...

The decision with working at Tuckersoft or working from home was the stupid one for me. It felt like a no-brainer choice and then you have to go back and choose the other one!
 

Red

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#22
I thought it was a bit stupid. Most of the time the choices you make don't actually do anything. It just takes you back to certain points and then you have to choose whatever you were supposed to choose the first time round. I had to end up watching certain bits a few times which was annoying.
This.
 

SF_

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#23
Enjoyed it personally, show could be as long or as short as you wanted.

I got a bit addicted and spent two hours on it.

Supposedly 5 hours worth of footage available.
 

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