Geek TV reviews, recaps and more!
I added Black Mirror to my queue a few weeks ago because a coworker recommended it. ‘A modern day Twilight Zone’ was what he referred to it as. I love The Twilight Zone, both the 1960s TV series and the film– I haven’t seen the newer 80s series, so I can’t compare it.
But a modern day Twilight Zone? That sounds like all sorts of NO, for me. I remember being terrified of the monster on the wing of William Shatner’s plane, when I was little. It turns out, he looks a lot like The Incredible Hulk with seaweed and cotton candy all over him. I’m okay with that. But modern day monsters? Modern day special effects rolled into mini horror stories? No, thank you. That sounds scary.
Some of the first episodes that I think of when someone mentions The Twilight Zone are:
“Nightmare At 20,000 Feet”, a.k.a. the one with the monster on the wing of Shatner’s plane
“Living Doll”, a.k.a. the one with the evil, murderous doll named Talking Tina.
“The Invaders”, a.k.a. the one with Agnes Moorehead and what you think are aliens attacking her, but are actually US Air Force, leading us to assume that Moorehead is, in fact, the bad guy/alien all along.
“Time Enough At Last”, a.k.a. the one where Burgess Meredith survives the end of the world, and finally has ALL the time to read all of the books he could ever imagine and hope for– until he breaks his glasses.
“Night Call”, a.k.a. the one with the telephone that keeps calling an elderly woman in the middle of the night, and it turns out that the phone line has fallen over the grave of, and the person trying to call her is, her long deceased fiance.
So as a general rule, I think of the scarier episodes when I think of The Twilight Zone, but maybe that’s me. I say this because Black Mirror isn’t scary in the way that you might think. It’s scary in another way. It’s psychologically scary. It’s Socialogically scary. It makes you think and and makes you uncomfortable.
The premise of most of the episodes are dark, but don’t let that deter you. Keep in mind that it’s a show broadcast on channel 4 in the UK, and would have, more or less, a PG to PG-13 rating for content.
In the opening scene of the first episode, we learn that a member of the royal family has been kidnapped, and in order to keep her alive, the Prime Minister is demanded to have sexual intercourse with a pig on national television by a specific time. Naturally, the kidnapper’s video laying out the demand goes viral within seconds. The video and duplicated files are spreading all over the world faster than the Prime Minister’s staff can take them down.
Each episode is a different story and has nothing to do with the last. Episode two is set in a not-so-distant future where your very job and purpose in life is to get up in the morning and earn
merits, or points. As your currency, you use the points to buy your lunch, wash your hands, or to fast forward your TV shows. From the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed at night, you earn merits by watching specific tv shows and commercials, or riding a futuristic looking exercise bike– and if you can’t cut it, and can’t keep up with the peddling, you’re essentially knocked down to what appears to be the lowest level of this new society. These members all appear to be overweight, presumably because they couldn’t keep up on the exercise bikes, and they have jobs cleaning up after everyone else. It’s not an admirable place to be in this new way of life.
So Black Mirror is like The Twilight Zone, but it’s more like those episodes that throw in a twist at the end, make you take a step back, and go ‘huh’. It’s not a monster on the wing of your plane, or a doll that kills you if it doesn’t like you. It’s about technology and the way that it has become monstrous to today’s world, with a strong focus on how much we humans have come to rely on and depend on our media and our apps. We let our technology rule our lives. We can’t get enough of it and we can’t put it down. We crave the most hits and the most likes. We need the most views to consider ourselves successful or popular. We have uncontrollable urges to share silly cat videos and shocking things caught on film. We want our farms and our villes to be the biggest and the best, and dear God, but we NEED to crush ALL of the candy!
Without giving away any spoilers or twists, that is what Black Mirror is about.
It’s a Twilight Zone of horror vignettes that give us a glimpse of what we could be turning our world into. It’s scary to think about, and at times, makes you feel uncomfortable. It does what it set out to do and it’s good. Really good. And did I mention it has all the familiar British actors and actresses you love? In addition to faces you’ve seen on the likes of Downton Abbey (Jessica Brown Findlay, Allen Leech), Black Mirror also has fun guest stars like Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, St. Trinian’s), Tobias Menzies (Game of Thrones, Outlander), and Jon Hamm (Mad Men, 30 Rock).
Each episode is about 45 minutes to an hour long, there are three episodes to a season, and currently you can catch seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix. Meanwhile, the UK is laughing at us because they have already seen the Christmas special. Binge now so that you can earn more merits and be ready when it hits Netflix too.