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Author Topic: Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror  (Read 3184 times)
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DannyJC13

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« on: 01-30-2013 21:19 »

Anyone watch this? Very dark but clever television. First series originally aired from 4th December to 18th December in 2011, and Series 2 starts on the 11th February at 10pm on Channel 4.

Regarding Series 1, I thought the 15 Million Merits episode was amazing, it's so depressing yet fascinating and creepy. The National Anthem was pretty weird for obvious reasons...


And I thought The Entire History of You was a great concept, and even though it was kind of a let-down, I still enjoyed that episode. Series 2 sounds great, especially the episode White Bear.
winna

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« Reply #1 on: 01-30-2013 21:49 »

I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Although the first episode was easily the best one.
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #2 on: 01-31-2013 12:53 »

I love anthology shows (huge fan of The Twilight Zone), I love Brooker and I love what we've seen of Black Mirror so far.

"The National Anthem" was incredible television. Smart, original, daring, gripping. It took a premise that was completely absurd and basically a one-line joke (in fact, it started as such in one of Brooker's columns), but it ran with it and the end result was spectacular.

"15 Million Merits" was about 50% filler which really let things down for me. It set up an interesting if somewhat unoriginal dystopian future, then drudged along to pad out the running time, then ripped off Network for its ending - but the ending was done with enough panache to sort of pull the whole thing together and I'd say that in the end, it more or less worked. Not bad.

But I thought "The Entire History" of You was absolutely awful. It had absolutely no humour about itself, but completely lacked in anything slightly interesting beyond its premise. I mean - it played out exactly as you'd expect it to. No twists or turns. And again, it stretched about 15 minutes of material out into a TV hour.

I don't like the way it's only 3 episodes a series, too. Fair enough if Brooker was actually writing them all, but he isn't. If he's happy to fob episode 3 of series 1 off on one of Peep Show's writers, then why not produce a much larger season with lots of other writers working for you? It's an anthology show so it'd be far easier to coordinate that than it usually would.

How do you know what happens in the new series, Danny? Is there a press release or something? I must say that I'm absolutely in love of the shot in the end of the trailer that's running of the smoke-cloud engulfing people stood, filming it on their phones.
DannyJC13

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« Reply #3 on: 01-31-2013 21:12 »
« Last Edit on: 01-31-2013 21:17 »

How do you know what happens in the new series, Danny? Is there a press release or something? I must say that I'm absolutely in love of the shot in the end of the trailer that's running of the smoke-cloud engulfing people stood, filming it on their phones.

The plots were released online a week or so ago, here. smile

My order of excitement for them: 3 > 1 > 2

My enjoyment of Series 1: 2 > 3 > 1

I am looking forward to seeing Waldo in the second episode however, I read in Total Film that the animators behind him also animated Gorillaz. big grin
winna

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« Reply #4 on: 02-01-2013 00:32 »

I believe cyber_turnip's opinion about series 1 is most in line with my own.  The prime minister had to fuck a pig after all.
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #5 on: 02-01-2013 11:57 »

Thanks for the link. That's so weird. My friend was trying to get a short film off the ground about an animated character named Waldo interacting with real people a few years ago.

Anyway; all of these sound great, but I'm especially excited for episode 3. I'd like to see who's written each episode as that'll affect my anticipation of them quite a lot given that the clear trend for me so far is that the more Brooker involvement per episode, the better.


Also, Danny, how could you like episode 1 the least from series 1? It was incredible!
DannyJC13

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« Reply #6 on: 02-01-2013 22:14 »
« Last Edit on: 02-01-2013 23:29 »

Also, Danny, how could you like episode 1 the least from series 1? It was incredible!

Meh, the ransom was disgusting which made me (and probably most viewers) super interested, but they just dragged it out and it was an anti-climax (no pun intended), and the message of the episode was average. I just found it boring I guess.

Oh, by the way, here's a preview for Be Right Back.
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #7 on: 02-04-2013 12:30 »

It wasn't that it was disgusting that made me super-interested; it was more about the power-play and watching how media outlets handled such a situation. It was drawn out just as such an event would be in real life. I thought the commentary on the media was wonderful.
hopie4ever

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« Reply #8 on: 02-04-2013 20:04 »

I prefer a good Wipe
DannyJC13

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« Reply #9 on: 02-11-2013 20:34 »

Robert Downey Jr. gets movie rights to Black Mirror episode
winna

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« Reply #10 on: 02-11-2013 23:19 »

Too bad it wasn't the pig fucking one. frown
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #11 on: 02-12-2013 11:23 »

"Be Right Back" was basically "Rebirth".
DannyJC13

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« Reply #12 on: 02-12-2013 18:52 »
« Last Edit on: 02-12-2013 18:53 »

I predicted they'd actually recreate his physical body way back when we discovered the ep's plot, and it just gave it away even more at the start when the TV in the car was talking about realistic flesh or something. Quite predictable, but I still enjoyed it.

They're actually trying to develop a thing that keeps tweeting for you when you die. Interesting.
DannyJC13

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« Reply #13 on: 02-19-2013 00:02 »

Well White Bear was pretty disturbing. I feel sorry for the main character even though


but still,

JoshTheater

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« Reply #14 on: 02-19-2013 06:39 »
« Last Edit on: 02-19-2013 06:44 »

Just watched the first two episodes after reading this thread which made it sound very interesting, and...ya, I really, really enjoyed both of them. I'm not sure I can decide which I liked more. Obviously the first one was as dark, sad, and fucked up as it possibly could have been (other then the terrorist killing the princess anyway), but I definitely enjoyed the social commentary and agree with cyber_turnip about how realistic the way the news stations handled it seemed to be. I thought the premise and execution of the second episode was brilliant. Yes, perhaps the future they dreamt up wasn't that original but the visual execution of the idea was absolutely perfect, and I could legitimately feel the main character's pain. It didn't end exactly the way I'd hoped, but I still enjoyed it for what it was and it definitely made me think. Definitely good, daring television. I have the rest of the episodes so far and plan on watching them soon.

Also, as for cyber_turnip's comment amount they're only being 3 episodes per series, it doesn't really bother me. Obviously more would be great, but it seems to me that they're doing it this way so that they can give each episode a large budget, which in my opinion has definitely paid off. At least from what I see in the first two episodes, they've been able to use some great actors and employ some amazing sets and visual effects that have really sold the concepts. If I had to guess, I'd say that's why they're doing so few, so that they can use the money to really make them shine.
winna

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« Reply #15 on: 02-19-2013 18:36 »

And it's British television. ¬_¬
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #16 on: 02-19-2013 19:13 »

"White Bear" was alright. I liked it but not as much as last week's. It felt like there was only about 30 minutes of material there being stretched into 45, except that there was loads of exposition that they didn't give us that I wouldn't have minded.

Also, was there a bear at all in "Be Right Back"? It seems odd that a white bear would factor into episode 2 so heavily, when episode 3 is about an animated, blue bear without it being some sort of intentional through-line.
winna

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« Reply #17 on: 02-19-2013 19:32 »

Snoutrageous!
DannyJC13

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« Reply #18 on: 02-19-2013 20:26 »

Also, was there a bear at all in "Be Right Back"? It seems odd that a white bear would factor into episode 2 so heavily, when episode 3 is about an animated, blue bear without it being some sort of intentional through-line.

Probably just coincidence.

Charlie Brooker has said he already has ideas for more episodes so a third series is likely. smile
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #19 on: 02-19-2013 21:23 »

It's a pretty apparent coincidence, though. I mean, I bet it probably is just a coincidence, but I think they've missed a trick, there. It'd be cool if there was a running through-line of sorts in the episodes, like that.

Sort of like the stuff with the comet in "Reincarnation", but much less overt.
winna

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« Reply #20 on: 02-19-2013 21:48 »

pig.... bear.........

MANBEARPIG IS REAL!
winna

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« Reply #21 on: 02-21-2013 12:08 »

I liked these first two episodes of series two.... probably more so than the second two episodes of series one.  Like I said, I generally agreed with cyber_turnip's opinions on series 1, including the obvious Network homage (or ripoff or whatever) in episode Dos.  Though strangely enough, I hadn't heard of Network up until randomly watching it one day maybe a year or less ago. I'm not quite sure why I kept watching that movie either, because it wasn't stimulating enough for me to love it, but it was stimulating enough to keep me watching.  Maybe screaming "I'm mad as Hell!" against society clicked with me enough... not sure.

Anyways...

That first episode of series II was pretty f*cking creepy and unsettling in that not quite scary, but quite emotional way. I didn't notice the real flesh advertisement at the beginning, but I've skimmed through this thread enough to know what was going on.... the part right before the end scene was especially dramatic for me.

The second episode was pretty fun, and I have to say
The house symbol was quite powerful in its simplicity.  That alone could have been as mysterious and magical as it wanted to.
JoshTheater

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« Reply #22 on: 02-21-2013 19:59 »

The first episode had follow-up in the credits, where you see that the Prime Minister has remained popular but his relationship with his wife didn't survive.
winna

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« Reply #23 on: 02-26-2013 23:25 »

I believe the third episode in series two was the weakest one for me.  The beginning didn't sell the bear to me as being particularly humorous, interesting, or entertaining, and the end (before the credit fallout) was a bit disappointing although expected somewhat.

The middle was the best part, and they sold me on the emotional level there by panning out the few individuals that seemed to have dimension, but that wasn't particularly the main story and I was expecting that to be taken further.

I would have much rather liked to see it have played out from the aspect that the credits presented, but much earlier and they foreshadowed it too, but that wasn't enough for me to invest in it when they did because other things were going on.

All in all, I was disappointed in the episode, but the writers were at least capable of creating characters that I fairly cared about.  First episode had a better emotional attachment that pulled through the entire episode, and the second one was a better hypothetical somewhat science fiction standard story.  Not sure which of those two was better... first one unnerved me in that creepy way (especially the cliff scene), but the second episode was more entertaining.
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #24 on: 02-28-2013 01:36 »

It was a great premise, but yeah, it wasn't executed amazingly well. I still enjoyed it, but I'd probably agree about it being the weakest of series 2.

It's interesting to see that Brooker didn't feel satisfied with how much of an overt homage to Network "15 Million Merits" was and decided to do it all over again with "The Waldo Moment".

It's also really interesting to see that it was based on an idea for Nathan Barley. I suppose that's the final nail in the coffin of series 2 of that show, then.
DannyJC13

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« Reply #25 on: 08-26-2014 15:36 »

Black Mirror returns for a feature-length Christmas Special

This should be an interestingly depressing Xmas. big grin
JoshTheater

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« Reply #26 on: 08-26-2014 17:34 »

Huzzah! I've been patiently waiting for more of this....this will do.
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #27 on: 08-26-2014 18:33 »

I read about this the other day and I can't wait. I particularly like that Brooker namechecked the old Amicus horror anthologies that I've been watching, recently. I love a good bit of horror anthology stuff - especially at Christmas.
DannyJC13

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« Reply #28 on: 09-29-2014 14:54 »

‘Mad Men’ Star Jon Hamm Joins ‘Black Mirror’

The special will also star Oona Chaplin and Rafe Spall.
DannyJC13

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« Reply #29 on: 12-11-2014 22:49 »

*bump*

The special is called "White Christmas" and airs this Tuesday (16th December) on Channel 4 at 9pm, it looks pretty neat:

cyber_turnip

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« Reply #30 on: 12-12-2014 10:50 »

Oh wow, I was expecting to have to wait a few more weeks for this. Brilliant.
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #31 on: 12-17-2014 02:06 »

Even though I'd already seen almost all of the concepts played out in the '80s reboot of The Twilight Zone and guessed almost all of the twists, that was absolutely excellent. Probably my 2nd favourite of the show overall.

The first two stories had very abrupt endings that felt very reminiscent of Amicus and Hammer's old horror anthologies so I'm not surprised that Charlie Brooker cited them as inspiration. Of course, they came back into play in the ending which made it all the more satisfying.
DannyJC13

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« Reply #32 on: 12-18-2014 21:26 »

The first two stories had very abrupt endings

I was worried about how abrupt they were until the ending, when they both came in to play really well. I had a feeling the main story which the special was centred around would have some kind of twist, and I was really pleased with what they came up with. That ending was brilliant.

It's hard to pick my favourite between White Christmas and Fifteen Million Merits. Both are really awesome.

Some questions I have:

Couldn't Joe tell a friend or someone in the street to pass on messages to Bethany whilst he was blocked from her?

If Joe's cookie got 1000-years-per-minute for an accidental murder, how long would someone like a serial killer or rapist get?
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #33 on: 12-18-2014 23:13 »

Really? I think "Fifteen Million Merits" is one of the weakest episodes of the series, honestly.

If you like it, you should really watch Network (if you haven't already). It's blatantly the film Charlie Brooker was using as his inspiration - especially given how much he's talked about his love of it on things like Screenwipe.

Couldn't Joe tell a friend or someone in the street to pass on messages to Bethany whilst he was blocked from her?
That bothered me too. Or he could write her a message and hold it up or place signs around or - you know, graffiti something or write messages with rocks on the road...

Quote
If Joe's cookie got 1000-years-per-minute for an accidental murder, how long would someone like a serial killer or rapist get?
I think they were treating him almost as severely as they'd treat anybody on account of the child dying due to his acts. The leaving it on over Christmas bit just made him a victim of circumstance.


But yeah, the main twist in the episode was really similar to a Twilight Zone from the '80s where the twist is that everything that's happening is a simulation serving as a trial designed to prove that the person is capable of murder.
winna

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« Reply #34 on: 12-19-2014 09:36 »

Really? I think "Fifteen Million Merits" is one of the weakest episodes of the series, honestly.

If you like it, you should really watch Network (if you haven't already). It's blatantly the film Charlie Brooker was using as his inspiration - especially given how much he's talked about his love of it on things like Screenwipe.

Generally agree.  The first episode of the series has been the most profound one to me.  I like this series though, and even if all of the episodes aren't super awesome dupity awesome great, and even if it retreads old ideas, I think it's an excellent show.  Unsure of where I rate all of the other episodes though; I think with series 1 I figured it was 1, 3, 2, and then with series 2 it was backwards somehow.

Haven't seen the Christmas episode, but I guess I can check that out at some point if I feel like it.  Easier to look forward to things that come out slowly because I don't wait for them.

Good pointing out Network, which I would say was superior to the episode in question.  When I first saw it, it was so alien, surreal and yet had a very strong point that hits hard from my perspective that it was bizarre watching it.  I think I watched it a few years before Black Mirror came out randomly watching something.  In a way the idea of that story is a bit repulsive, but I think it certainly resonates to some large degree a sinister truth about humans in general.

* winna walks off to start a cult with a giant blue animated bear.
winna

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« Reply #35 on: 12-19-2014 10:00 »
« Last Edit on: 12-19-2014 10:01 »

Oh. I've already talked about this show. shifty

Also, Danny, how could you like episode 1 the least from series 1? It was incredible!

Meh, the ransom was disgusting which made me (and probably most viewers) super interested, but they just dragged it out and it was an anti-climax (no pun intended), and the message of the episode was average. I just found it boring I guess.

I disagree with this opinion.  The ransom being disgusting (ie the details there of) may have been a good hook for the episode's narrative (and an excellent hour long joke), but the message of the episode excelled beyond average.  It was operating on multiple levels, including the operation of individuals and the operation of society and most intriguingly the clash between those two mentalities.

How far would one go in performing actions or behavior in order to save lives? More striking, how far would one go to avoid public humiliation?  The prime minister was caught between two rough choices which would both bear out negatively upon their conclusion. The writers could have picked something similarly shocking to the gory details and still have made the point on that affair, in fact many stories, including real life ones where individuals are held by extortion for actions they've already made, already have been performed on this idea.  

It feels, to me, particularly modern day british that something embarrassing in this method, with respect to society, would be inherently swept under the rug while everyone participates in the shame and the guilt.  Perhaps I have an unhealthy view of british society, but britain also produces Peep Show and I've watched a lot of that.  All in the name of civility.  The thing is, this episode wouldn't have worked on that particular tangent if it were about american society; collectively there would not be blame on the president for refusing to work with terrorists because there's an expectation of how an american, especially its leader would act; in such situations, americans are expected to go out half-cocked and blow away the bad guys... 1980s american action movies clearly prove my point.  America also doesn't have a princess, and americans don't care about princesses much more than puppies.

On a further level, the episode demonstrated something rather frightening: how easy it is to manipulate the public in our modern day, with things like facebook and youtube, ideas placed at the right time can spiral out of control, creating a very mob like mentality.   Remember that ice bucket challenge everyone complained about 8 years ago?  Now imagine that it's the pig bucket challenge... and everything about yourself as a citizen rides on one person completing the pig bucket.  It's scary.  This is truly how people operate.

On that level, it also demonstrates what warfare can be and what it's turning into.  We're not talking about millions of people dying in some war torn nation, we're talking about a singular event affecting the emotions of a society (perhaps civilization in general) over something that is so ludicrous it's almost unbelievable.  It's almost as if, computers for what they are could be used in such a way as to alter the collective thinking of people in a negative unchangeable manner.  It would be like me telling you that a group of internet hackers could break into a movie film corporation's database, steal unreleased movies, leak them, threaten corporate employees, demand that a specific comedy film never be released, actually have their silly demand fulfilled, and on top of all of that make international news for stifling creative freedom and satire.  That's changing the world level type stuff from the touch of a button.  What's worse to me is that rather being an immediately physical effect, this sort of effect is a sickening step towards diluting the mind and poisoning the soul of whole collectives of people all at once.

Furthermore, what hit home to me was the dragging out.  The episode was honest, and in all likelihood, realistic in the exact portrayal of what would happen in such a given scenario.  Eerily so, down to the most minute details.  It was almost like someone went to an alternate reality and taped the events, precisely how they occurred.

And notice for all the shock value of the premise, the media could not help itself but to quickly feed fuel to the crisis and ultimately make the damage much worse.  That's the world we live in; our fellow human beings feed on negativity... feed on carnage, and destruction, and the fall of self worth.

Why?
winna

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« Reply #36 on: 12-19-2014 10:01 »

Also, the ending wasn't an anti-climax.  I legitimately was unsure of how it would resolve... I think. 

Pretty sure the prime minister had a climax though. roll eyes
JoshTheater

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« Reply #37 on: 12-22-2014 02:56 »

Finally watched the Christmas special, good stuff. Neither of the main characters were terrible guys...flawed, certainly, but not worthy of the punishments they received. I liked the message that the ease of use of the technology used to punish them made it more likely for people to use them without thinking of the severity of their effects.
cyber_turnip

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« Reply #38 on: 12-22-2014 12:24 »

I completely agree with that wall of text, Winna.
homerjaysimpson

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« Reply #39 on: 12-23-2014 01:28 »

I just watched them on Netflix and the X-mas one online. This is like Outer Limits 2.0, they need more shows!
The only two really weak ones were the pig sex one and the guy with the memory player in his head.
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