First Impressions on Black Mirror

Black Mirror Part 1 - The National Anthem

Unbelievable, nauseating and bleak are all suitable adjectives for the description of Charlie Brooker’s latest satirical drama, Black Mirror. When I heard about the premise, I suppose I was hoping for something akin to a dramatised Brasseye Special, or Nathan Barley with added politicians and bestiality – but struggled to find the humour in it to be honest.  The TV-crime-drama aesthetics and tempo also put me off a bit, and the implausibility of the plot left me cold.

Having said all this I will still be watching the next two instalments of this mini-series, as I’m interested to see where he takes it next. Certainly, the YouTube generation is ripe for satirical analysis, and holding up a “Black Mirror” to the unseemly side of our digital lives and the effect it has on society and politics, is virgin territory that needs to be charted. And who better than Charlie Brooker to have a go!

I hope the next one is either more believable or more comedic, as I think The National Anthem fell between two stools, in so much as it was neither, and needed to be both, to be all that effective as a satire on our networked zeitgeist. The first episode felt like watching someone’s dark fantasy made real, rather than a future history playing out – but maybe that was the point Brooker was trying to make – that the internet age can bring that dark fantasy one step closer to being real. And that people will watch it. In their millions…

Watch on 4OD

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7 Comments

  1. I agree with the review in the most part, I’d just criticise the episode less. I thought to turn off the program, several times, before the climactic act took place, but with so much time of the episode remaining, I didn’t want to skip part of the program. It wasn’t shown graphically at all, I’m very pleased by that!!

    I think, as this was black comedy, that this REALLY leant to the BLACK part, as the reviewer says, imagining a dark fantasy (which with a somewhat alternate history – in which such consessions are not seen as victories for the terrorists) where such a pathetic Prime Minister would bend under pressure of “polls” from an extremely over-sensationalist public.

    The kidnapper is even shown not to be the sick man who would think a PM would do this (who in their mind would.. except a mad man who wants to kill the princess anyway) by making the point to the public in the drama, that Charlie Brooker makes to us.

    The darkness is played off with the credits footage of the PM happily kicking a ball around a school (which you see in real life) while everyone obviously only remembers the man for the one thing (the explicit act). This happens today, but less obviously, as not everyone cares about or cares to understand wholy, policies that a PM may be putting through or supporting…
    That was the cherry on the BLACK, BLACK, BLACK pudding.
    One that I’m MOST and refreshingly glad to have tasted.

  2. Certainly have nothing against really dark humour or Charlie Brooker’s particular brand of it – just found it completely unconvincing for the most part! Looking forward to the next one though, let’s hope it’s better 😉

  3. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/black-mirror/4od#3264068

    Episode 2 online now. Thought this one was better. How much does the interface look like Xbox? Let me know what you thought of it. 🙂

  4. Much better than the first one for sure. Was going to write a follow-up to this post about it, unless you wanted to do it?

  5. Yeah I liked both episodes to be fair, didn’t agree with micoland’s scathing review. The second one I thought was amazing, film quality, gripping storyline and a totally believable near-future sci-fi. RESUME VIEWING!

  6. and yes- similar to xbox- oh the irony of the xbox kinect adverts that came on in between!

  7. Next one reviewed here: https://theredeyeportal.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/reflections-on-another-black-mirror/

    feel free to counter-review though 😉


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