The National Anthem
Fifteen Million Merits
The Entire History Of You
A twisted trilogy of dark tales, Black Mirror is the evil brainchild of Charlie Brooker. Working as a modern day Twilight Zone, Black Mirror throws a satirical contemporary look at our own world with a technological twist. Despite a disappointingly lacklustre first episode, the second and third episode more than make up for the shortfalls with some great script work, acting and compelling plot lines to hold it all together.
The three individual episodes work as stand alone plots and the beauty of Black Mirror is that you’re not forced to watch the episodes in order unless you want to. The first episode is by far the weakest though, with a plot around the Prime Minister and a kidnapping. There are a few stand out moments but its largely forgettable against the other two episodes. The second, “Fifteen Million Merits” explores a dystopian world where people are forced to cycle in order to accumulate credits. These in turn allow you to buy goods and anything left over allows you to try and buy your way onto reality shows to get out of the endless cycling hamster wheel. Its a good look at the reality TV centric world we live in and asks some hard hitting questions, masked as satire. The third episode, “The Entire History Of You”, explores a world where everyone has a memory implant that records everything you see, hear and do and the implications that go with that.
With the final two episodes, you get a real feel of energy throughout. Part of Black Mirror’s allure is just how close to reality the show seems to be set and its here that questions are asked about the implications and dangers of our continued reliance on ever powerful technology. Is it a good thing that we can remember absolutely everything we’ve ever seen, heard and done? What happens if this falls into the wrong hands? What if this goes wrong? These are solid questions that the show isn’t afraid to tackle and whilst many shy away from these, Charlie Brooker dives head first into the ugly side of technology. Its part of what makes this show so brilliant but it also makes for some very uncomfortable viewing at times.
Of course, all of this would be for nothing if the episodes themselves weren’t produced well and thankfully they are. With some great use of colour and lighting, decent script writing and some convincing acting, Black Mirror feels like a big budget film produced for the small screen. With a different director taking the helm for each episode, it helps each feel like its own piece within a collective whole and is part of the reason Black Mirror feels so different to other shows.
Whilst it isn’t perfect and the first episode is disappointingly light on advanced technology compared to the other two, the first Season of Black Mirror does a great job in establishing a technologically advanced future and showing the dangers of using this technology. With some great writing, a distinctly dark, satirical feel to every scene and a high production value, Black Mirror is one of the most original shows on TV and certainly one to keep an eye on in the future.