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 Post subject: Flack Mirror
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:05 am 
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How the fuck do we not have a thread for this? I'm stunned.

Anyway, finally caught up with season 4 last night. Once again fantastic. Not quite up to the lofty levels of 3, but the high points were excellent. Mini reviews:

"USS Callister"

Some here would like this. A software genius has developed software that lets him live in a true to life replica of Star Trek ... or, errr, Space Fleet. But (duh) there's a dark side to it. This one is funny, relatable, the evil prick from Breaking Bad is great here in dual roles, and the lead actress has fantastic legs. Good fun, with an ending that will tickle video game aficionados. This is basically an elaborate, modern take on the twilight Zone episode with the psychotic kid who can change reality.

B+.

"Arkangel"

Predictable story about a mother who has a super surveillance system installed in her daughter. A very relevant warning about actual, real technology we're tinkering with, with very believable consequences, but you know where this is leading from the first five minutes and there is no tension in getting there.

C

"Crocodile"

A grim, darkly (but unintentionally) comedic modern riff on the old "if you tell one lie it leads to another" and "the cover-up is what gets you" kind of story, commenting on new ways of having 24-hour CCTV surveillance and how that impact people who do Very Bad Things. Solid piece a bleakly dark moment and a good turn. However, a bit difficult to believe the main character does what she does.

B-

"Hang the DJ"

A riff on dating apps and matchmaking services. Here, a seemingly made for each other couple wants to be together, but they live in a world where matchmaking is mandated by a computer algorithm. Warm and sad, well acted, you'll have questions but they will be answered by the end. This one brought tears to my eyes. Also, I am madly, madly in love with the lead actress. I have no idea who she is but oh my god, she is the most charismatic woman I've seen in ages. It's seriously worth watching JUST to see her smile and laugh.

A

"Metalhead"

A short blast of pure sci-fi techno horror. The Terminator in dog form. There isn't much here as far as lofty questions -- the implication is that we created these things, but whatever -- it's just a good, tense, relatively brief science fiction thriller.

A-

"Black Museum"

A woman visits a weird museum devoted to tech stuff used in crimes. Bleakly funny, often too comical and nodding and winking, though the ideas are clever (and in one case, plausible about 50 years from now). At first, this one seems like an episode to dump a few half-ideas that weren't right for full episodes, as you get a series of unrelated short stories about technology used for good purposes that goes astray. Duh! But it all comes together in the end in a good way, redeeming everything that came before.

B

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:20 am 
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Season 3 quick thoughts, dug up from elsewhere:

NOSEDIVE

One of my favorite gals, Bryce Dallas Howard, is obsessed with her social media ranking. It all goes bad for her.

This was quite good and surprisingly funny, though a bit on the nose. Aside from the idea that your ranking could impact things like getting good seats on a flight -- which is NOT that far-fetched! -- this episode could take place right now. It just exaggerated Instagram and FB "likes" addiction a bit.

It's predictable from the very start. You know exactly where it's going when Chick From Star Trek Into Darkness Who Is The Same As The Australian Harley Quinn Chick pops up. That's not a huge flaw, though, since half the fun is watching it happen. Howard does a good job of acting like she's acting. You'll know what I mean when you see it.

Not an all-timer, but entertaining.

B

PLAYTEST

I really wanted to love this. Fantastic premise, deals with a world I enjoy (video games) and tech we WILL struggle with in the next generation or two (in-brain VR). Plus it's a full-blown horror movie at times.

However, between the obnoxious American stereotype who plays the lead role -- sooooo annoying -- and the telegraphed, predictable ending, this is rendered Average. Consider it a decent 3-star short horror movie, I guess.

C+

SHUT UP AND DANCE

This episode is not science fiction. Not only is it plausible, you or I could literally do all the things depicted in this episode right now with nothing more than a laptop.

It's a good little crime thriller that is about 10-15 minutes too long, getting draggy for a bit until the sledgehammer ending. And it's got a very good ending that redeems some big "come on, I don't buy it" questions you'll have. Quite bleak and depressing.

B+

San Junipero

I never thought this show could bring me joy or bring me to tears. This episode did both. It grapples with huge, huge questions, but does so in a small, personal, and utterly moving way.

Don't want to spoil anything, but basically it's Woman Lives In A Virtual Reality Sim of The 1980s. Just watch for the rest. It's stellar.

A+

Men Against Fire

Good, and again (thankfully) off the social media theme, but pretty standard stuff plucked straight from a number of sci-fi classics. Not particularly impressive in that regard. No new ideas here.

Basically, it's I Am Legend before society collapsed, except for one thing ...

Not bad, good premise, but not essential watching by any means.

C

Hated in the Nation

Okay, first off, this is not a television episode, this is a movie. At an hour and a half, this is a feature-length production. It feels like one, too, and is structured like one. All it needs is an opening title sequence and some movie-like establishing shots and it could have been put in the theater. I suppose if it was released in the theater the climax would have shown the Big Thing That Happens in all its FX glory, but it's far more effective to have left it off screen, so TV = good.

This is a kind of techno horror thriller police procedural, which sounds like a messy mouthful but is actually a tight, effective genre blend that ranks with the show's best.

People are dying under mysterious circumstances. Social media is somehow involved.

What follows are a series of plot twists that feel inevitable without being overly predictable (and even when they are, it's the good kind of predictable that keeps you engaged). Tension mounts until it becomes dread. The problems pile atop each other on their way towards a grim climax. Small moments early on that felt wasted suddenly loom large. It's just utterly gripping.

Plus, the way the villain is handled here -- and I'm going to avoid even hinting at how -- is a surprising and bold choice. Quite effective.

Hated in the Nation is a triumph, and cemented season 3 as an absolute win in my book.

This is a MUST WATCH.

A+

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:34 am 
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Might as well do seasons 1 & 2 while I'm at it. I consider these two seasons a single season, since they're so short:

"The National Anthem"

The infamous pig-fucking episode. What a terrible way to start off a great show. It's about the consequences of social media and media pressure, but it's just a weak piece that relies too much on shock to be effective.

D

"Fifteen Million Merits"

A riff on reality TV, on selling out your morals, on how we are manipulated by the media and the manufactured desire for fame. It's okay, but no great shakes. I don't feel as if you walk away from this with any great questions about us or our world, and that's when the show is at its best.

C-

"The Entire History of You"

Installed chips allow us to record and look back on everything we ever see. A guy thinks his wife is cheating on his and gets obsessed with reviewing his recording memories to dig up evidence of it. A sad, bleak look not just at our modern desire to document our entire life, but also a look at what makes us tick as human beings. One of its strong suits is that there is no black or white here. It's a grey episode. No right choices. No wrong choices. And unhappiness either way.

A

"Be Right Back"

A woman loses a loved one, but is able to have him returned to her in android form with all the consequences you'd expect. A sad story about the difficulty in capturing humanity in technology, how tech can't replace human interaction, and what that can do to a person.

B

"White Bear"

A woman wakes up with no memory of where she is or why she's there. She sees that everywhere she goes, people are recording her with their phones. Then she's being pursued by gunmen. She must escape and also figure out what the hell is going on. Fantastic ending that leaves you feeling a little dirty, with some great moral questions being posed. Takes elements from lots of existing sci-fi, yes, but that's no knock. This is fantastic stuff.

A+

"The Waldo Moment"

A vulgar cartoon character runs for office. No Donald Trump jokes, please! A decent little fable about ... well, fuck it, I will go there. This episode is unintentionally about how a guy like Trump gets elected and the masses of brainless morons who root for him. Funny, a bit bleak, somewhat plausible until the (overly) wild ending.

B

"White Christmas"

An interlinked series of stories that deal with the idea of being able to 'block' people in real life just like you can online. Jon Hamm from Mad Men is fantastic here. Good questions raised, some clever twists, a story that keeps you guessing. Strong stuff.

B+

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:50 am 
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I literally watched the first episode of season 1, shrugged and decided everyone else had lost their minds.

Based on your reviews, I may reconsider.

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:15 am 
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It's easily the worst of the series. If I'd watched that first, I'd have bailed, too. No redeeming qualities. I always tell people to just skip right over it. Hell, skip the second one, too! It's lukewarm at best.

But the great stuff is stellar speculative fiction.

It's an anthology show, so only watching the ones with a description that catches your eye is just fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:24 am 
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I liked the pig fucker episode, it got me hooked. I really don't think it relied on the shock value to much, and was an honest run down of how that scenario may have played out.

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 Post subject: Re: Black Mirror
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:24 am 
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I too liked the pig fucker episode but I had to tell all my friends who quit on that episode to keep watching because it really was a terrible episode to lead off the series. Season 4 was good outside of Arkangel, definitely in the bottom 3 of the series for me. Metalhead was fantastic, loved when they were searching the storage facility and The Shining music started playing, excellent.


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