Black Mirror

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Black Mirror
BlackMirrorTitleCard.jpg
Title card
Genre Science fiction
Satire
Psychological drama
Created by Charlie Brooker
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 13 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Charlie Brooker
Annabel Jones
Producer(s) Barney Reisz
Running time 44–89 minutes
Production company(s) Zeppotron (2011–13)
House of Tomorrow (2014–present)
Distributor Endemol UK
Release
Original network Channel 4 (2011–14)
Netflix (2016–present)
Picture format HDTV 1080i
Audio format Dolby Digital 2.0
Original release 4 December 2011 (2011-12-04) – present (present)
External links
Website www.netflix.com/gb/title/70264888

Black Mirror is a British science fiction television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker and centred around dark and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies.[1] Episodes are standalone works, usually set in an alternative present or the near future. The show was first broadcast on the British Channel 4, in 2011. In September 2015, Netflix commissioned a third season of 12 episodes.[2] The commissioned episodes were later divided into two seasons of six episodes; the third season was released on Netflix worldwide on 21 October 2016.

Regarding the programme's content and structure, Brooker noted, "each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they're all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy."[3] The series has received critical acclaim and has seen an increase in interest internationally (particularly in the US) after being added to Netflix.[4]

Series[edit]

Series Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired Network
1 3 4 December 2011 (2011-12-04) 18 December 2011 (2011-12-18) Channel 4
2 3 11 February 2013 (2013-02-11) 25 February 2013 (2013-02-25)
Special 16 December 2014 (2014-12-16)
3 6 21 October 2016 (2016-10-21) Netflix

Production[edit]

Conception[edit]

The first two series of the programme were produced by Zeppotron, for Endemol. An Endemol press release described the series as "a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected which taps into our contemporary unease about our modern world", with the stories having a "techno-paranoia" feel.[5] Channel 4 describes the first episode as "a twisted parable for the Twitter age".[6] Black Mirror series 1 had a limited DVD release for PAL / Region 2 on 27 February 2012.[7] This was followed by a DVD release of series 2, also PAL for region 2 only.

According to Brooker (speaking to SFX), the production team considered giving the series a linking theme or presenter, but ultimately it was decided not to do so: "There were discussions. Do we set them all in the same street? Do we have some characters who appear in each episode, a bit Three Colours: Blue/White/Red style? We did think about having a character who introduces them, Tales from the Crypt style, or like Rod Serling or Alfred Hitchcock or Roald Dahl, because most anthology shows did have that... but the more we thought about it, we thought it was a bit weird."[8]

Title[edit]

Charlie Brooker explained the series' title to The Guardian: "If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone."[3]

Development[edit]

In 2013, Robert Downey Jr. optioned the episode "The Entire History of You" (written by Jesse Armstrong) to potentially be made into a film by Warner Bros. and his own production company, Team Downey.[9]

In September 2015, Netflix commissioned a third season of 12 episodes,[10] which was later divided into two seasons of six episodes.[11] The third-season cast includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Alice Eve, James Norton, Cherry Jones, Wyatt Russell, Alex Lawther, Jerome Flynn, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mackenzie Davis, Michael Kelly, Malachi Kirby, Kelly Macdonald, and Faye Marsay.[12] The directors for the third season include Joe Wright,[13] Jakob Verbruggen,[14] James Hawes,[15] and Dan Trachtenberg.[16] The third season was released on Netflix worldwide on 21 October 2016.[17] Channel 4 will not air the third season after Netflix outbid them for the rights, spending $40 million.[18] A trailer for the third season was released in October 2016.[12]

In October 2016, Brooker revealed that he had ideas of where sequels to both "White Bear" and "Be Right Back" would go, but it was unlikely that either would be made.[19] He also revealed that actors had been approached to return to the series, but were not available, although Hannah John-Kamen does appear in "Playtest" after appearing in an unrelated role in "Fifteen Million Merits".[19] Furthermore, Brooker also stated that there were some characters in the series three episode "Hated in the Nation" who could potentially recur.[19]

For the upcoming season, which is expected to be released in late 2017, Brooker has leaked a few details to the press. Jodie Foster will direct an episode of the fourth season starring Rosemarie DeWitt[20] with a mother and daughter theme, one episode is being filmed in Iceland and one episode will be overtly comedic in tone. It is expected that there will be even more variety in the episodes than in previous seasons. Brooker expressed a reluctance to make a sequel to the popular and critically acclaimed "San Junipero" episode.[21] Other directors confirmed for the fourth season include John Hillcoat[22] and David Slade.[23] The season will feature an episode story conceived by Penn Jillette.[24]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The first series has been acclaimed as being innovative and shocking with twists-in-the-tale reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.[25][26] Michael Hogan of The Daily Telegraph described the first episode, "The National Anthem", as "a shocking but ballsy, blackly comic study of the modern media".[26] He went on to say that "This was a dementedly brilliant idea. The satire was so audacious, it left me open-mouthed and squealing. Rather like that poor pig."[26] The series was taken up across much of the world, including Australia, Israel, Sweden, Spain, Poland, Hungary and China.[27] The series has become popular and been well received in China, becoming one of the most discussed series in early 2012.[28] User ratings on Douban reach 9.3,[29] higher than most popular American dramas.[30] Many viewers and critics praised the depth of the series.[28][29][31] A reporter from The Beijing News thought the programme was "an apocalypse of modern world", "desperate but profound".[31] Another article from the same newspaper thought each story criticised television from different aspects.[32] Xu Wen at The Epoch Times thought the stories reveal modernity's moral turpitude.[33]

In its second series, Black Mirror continued to receive acclaim. In his review of the episode "Be Right Back", Sameer Rahim of The Telegraph wrote, "The show touched on important ideas – the false way we sometimes present ourselves online, and our growing addiction to virtual lives – but it was also a touching exploration of grief. To my mind it's the best thing Brooker has done." Jane Simon of The Daily Mirror newspaper website, said that the second episode of the second series, "White Bear", lacked the "instant emotional tug" of the series opener, "Be Right Back".[34] She went on to say that, a third of the way through the second episode, she had lost hope of it concluding well, "[...] the acting was unbelievable, the script was riddled with horror-film cliches, the violence was a bit over the top [...]", but that by the end, "I turned out to be absolutely dead wrong on every single count." She ended the piece with: "It’s another work of dark and twisted genius from Mr Brooker." Several news reports, including one by Chris Cillizza, political reporter for The Washington Post, compared the 2016 Donald Trump political campaign to "The Waldo Moment", a 2013 episode in the second series;[35][36] later, in September 2016, episode writer Charlie Brooker also compared the Trump campaign to the episode and predicted Trump would win the 2016 election.[37][38] The second series is popular in China. Wen Bai at Information Times thought the second series was still "cannily made", and "near perfection".[39]

In December 2014, Stephen King noted his admiration in the series.[40][4][41] The show's Christmas special that year, "White Christmas" received critical acclaim. Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian praised the comic satire of the episode and noted that "sentimentality is offset with wicked wit, and Brooker’s brio and imagination paper over any gaps in logic."[42] The Daily Telegraph reviewer Mark Monahan gave the episode 4/5 stars, noting that the drama was "thrilling stuff: escapist entertainment with a very real-world sting in its tail". Monahan equated the episode with the stronger of the previous Black Mirror episodes, stating that "it exaggerated present-day technology and obsessions to subtle but infernal effect, a nightmare-before-Christmas reminder that to revere our digital gizmos is to become their pathetic slave."[43]

The third series received positive reviews from critics and has a Metacritic rating of 82 out of 100, based on 23 reviews.[44]

Accolades[edit]

In November 2012, Black Mirror won Best TV Movie/Miniseries at the International Emmy Awards.[45] International Emmys are for TV series "produced and initially aired outside the US."[46] After both series aired in the US, The A.V. Club placed it on its Best of 2013 list (along with Borgen, The Fall, Moone Boy and Please Like Me).[47] Bryce Dallas Howard received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for her performance in the episode "Nosedive".[48]

Year Award Category Recipients Result
Season 1
2012
BAFTA Television Craft Awards Best Production Design Joel Collins and Daniel May (Episodes: "15 Million Merits") Nominated
International Emmy Awards Best TV Movie/Miniseries Black Mirror Won
Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival Comedy Won
2013
Broadcast Awards Best Single Drama Nominated
Season 2
2014
Peabody Awards Entertainment Black Mirror Won
BAFTA Television Awards Best Single Drama Black Mirror (Episodes: "Be Right Back") Nominated
White Christmas
2015
International Emmy Awards Best Performance by an Actor Rafe Spall (Episodes: "White Christmas") Nominated
RTS Craft & Design Awards Best Sound: Drama Alastair Widgery Nominated
2016
Broadcast Awards Best Single Drama White Christmas Nominated
RTS Television Awards Best Single Drama Nominated
Season 3
2017
BAFTA Television Craft Awards Best Make Up and Hair Design Tanya Lodge (Episodes: "San Junipero") Won
Best Special, Graphic and Visual Design Justin Hutchinson-Chatburn, Framestore, Glassworks, Baseblack (Episodes: "Playtest") Nominated
Best Costume Design Susie Coulthard (Episodes: "San Junipero") Nominated
Best Photography and Lighting – Fiction Seamus McGarvey (Episodes: "Nosedive") Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[49] Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries Bryce Dallas Howard (Episodes: "Nosedive") Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards[50] Excellence in Production Design for a Television Movie or Limited Series Joel Collins, James Foster and Nicholas Palmer
(Episodes: "Nosedive", "Playtest", "San Junipero")
Nominated
Cinema Audio Society Awards[51] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Movies and Mini-Series Adrian Bell, Martin Jensen, Philip Clements, Rory de Carteret (Episodes: "San Junipero") Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards[52] Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television Annabel Jones and Charlie Brooker Nominated
Satellite Awards[53] Best Television Series – Genre Black Mirror Nominated
NAACP Image Awards[54] Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture – Television Rashida Jones and Mike Schur
(Episode: "Nosedive")
Nominated
IGN Awards[55] Best Streaming Exclusive Black Mirror Nominated
Best TV Episode "San Junipero" Won
Visual Effects Society Awards[56] Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Justin Hutchinson-Chatburn, Russell McLean, Grant Walker, Christopher Gray (Episode: "Playtest") Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards[57] Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character) San Junipero Won
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Best Special Makeup Effects - Television Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Kristyan Mallett and Tanya Lodge (Episode: "Men Against Fire") Nominated
Dorian Awards TV Drama of the Year Black Mirror Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards[58] Best TV Series Pending
Hugo Awards[59] Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Charlie Brooker, Owen Harris (Episode: "San Junipero") Pending

Literature[edit]

In June 2017, Brooker announced a series of novels based on Black Mirror that will offer "new, original, darkly satirical stories that tap into our collective unease about the modern world". The first instalment was scheduled for release on 20 February 2018, and will feature anthology short stories by different authors.[60]

References[edit]

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  60. ^ "'Black Mirror' to Be Adapted Into a Book Series". 13 June 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]