Last night the first of three episodes of Charlie Brooker’s new show aired on Channel 4, and if you missed it, you can watch ‘The National Anthem’ over on 4OD. The whole thing is about 35 minutes long, but it was so heavily intruded upon by advertisement breaks that it really lasted not much less than 50, which was annoying. Kinda makes you dislike watching things on the telly. Regardless, it was excellent to watch.
Black Mirror is pitched as a kind of modern-era Twilight Zone; contemporary worries and woes explored through speculative fiction. ‘What if?’ questions frame important societal debates, sci-fi settings are used to say unsettling things, and strange stories stray into territory all too close to the viewer’s own fears for comfort. And it’s all so well-laced with deliciously cruel humour, one has to worry why one’s laughing. Writing in the Guardian, Brooker declares:
That’s what we’re aiming for with Black Mirror: 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. And if there’s one thing we know about mankind, it’s this: we’re usually clumsy.
It’s a noble mission. It’s the kind of thing I’d like to see more of.
The next episode, enigmatically named ‘Fifteen Million Merits’, airs next Sunday at 9 on Channel 4. I can’t wait.