Tuesday, 8 May 2012


“Charlie Brooker, a Guardian columnist and writer of E4’S brilliant Dead Set, returns with this satirical three-part mini-series that taps into the collective unease about our modern world. According to Brooker, 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. You may want to cancel a few contracts when you’re done.

First up is The National Anthem, a darkly comic political thriller in which our Prime Minister Michael Callow faces a huge and shocking dilemma when Princess Susannah, a much-loved member of the Royal Family, is kidnapped. For her safe return, he must have sexual intercourse with a pig on national television. It’s a wonderful achievement considering its bold premise, and surprisingly believable, with strong performances, buckets of humour, and a final ten minutes that will leave you as sick as a pig.

15 Million Merits is the bloated second part which incurs a penalty for being as interesting as the second half of Wall-E (2008). A satire on entertainment shows, everyone must cycle on exercise bikes to create currency which – if you have enough saved – can be spent on an entry ticket into the X-Factor style game show Hot Shots, which offers a chance for people to get out of the slave-like world. In truth, it takes a long time for nothing to happen, and although it looks good, the message isn’t worthy of its running time. There are some nice moments between our two leads Bing and Abi, and Bing delivers a passionate speech attacking all things manufactured, but it’s a huge let-down after the brilliance of The National Anthem.

Thank heavens for The Entire History Of You, then. Brooker hands over writing duties to Jesse Armstrong (Three Lions), who crafts a fascinating story of jealousy and betrayal, set in an alternative reality where most people have a 'grain' implanted behind their ear which records everything they do, see or hear. This allows memories to be played back either in front of the person's eyes or on a screen, a process known as a 're-do'. It’s a cracking premise, but not one for those on the verge of a breakup, and certainly not for those who suspect that their partner is cheating. Superbly acted and refreshingly honest (even if its characters aren't), it completes an intriguing collection that deserves a place on your shelf, not your hard drive.” DW

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