Thought provoking and original, created and written by multi-award winner Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror has returned for a second series with three more twisted tales to warp the mind and prick the conscience. The wonderfully darkly comic anthology series taps into the collective unease about our 24 hour news, and instantly connected, world.
Suspenseful and darkly satirical, the series is deeper and darker than ever and the new episodes continue to explore our modern reality. Each one-hour self contained episode takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and, whilst sometimes uncomfortable, it's always compelling viewing as it prepares you for a potentially horrific future - and a future we appear to be tumbling into without any concern.
As a series broadcast on British terrestrial television channel there was never going to be anything special about the picture quality – which is a bit of disappointment as there's the sell-thru market (and HD channels - including Channel 4's) to consider and I'm sure a Blu-ray release would have been richly welcomed.
Never the less, the picture is bright and colourful (well, as bright and colourful as the "washed out" colours of the series will allow) along with a consistently high level of detail throughout. Also, given that this is a television series, there are no problems with print damage either and, when compared against some of the bigger American productions and their near unlimited budgets, it's yet another cracking result for this ground-breaking series.
Whilst it isn't a particularly dynamic soundtrack, the 192Kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 Kbps track is, unfortunately, exactly as I'd expected from a terrestrial television series - nothing exciting. As such, there is no real need to report anything spectacular with the audio, even if the series cries out for something a little special. Still, at least we have some clear and audible dialogue.
The menu system is simple – but highly effective – with pieces of broken glass rotating around the Black Mirror logo. The menu text also breaks up, but it soon reassembles to allow you to make a selection (although it's not that difficult to work out what's going on). Episode wise, the three can be played in one go or individually selected from a sub-menu. Whilst there's no scene selection option, each episode is still chaptered and they're available with subtitles.
Extras wise, whilst there's very little on offer, what is supplied is nevertheless interesting and worthy of a viewing. The ten minute Be Right Back Q&A featurette does exactly as it says on the tin - it's a Q&A session with Charlie Brooker (Writer), Annabel Jones (Executive Produer), Owen Harris (Director) and Hayley Atwell (Actor). Obviously presented for the benefit of the press on a screening of the new series, Charlie Brooker comes across as the highly intelligent, and articulate, man he is. Even though it's far too short, it still manages to be a fascinating look at the creative team behind this remarkable series.
Whilst not quite as good as the first series, Black Mirror Series 2 is still a brilliant series with episodes to make you stop and think. Needless to say, given the subject matter, it's a series which can only be broadcast on a channel willing to take a chance - Channel 4. Given that Charlie Brooker already has a presence on the channel with the 10 O'Clock Show its fairly obvious that it's the channel of choice for such programming.
Even though there's a valid argument that the disc offers little in the way multiple repeat viewings, if a purchase is not on the cards, it's very hard not to justify at least a rent. Never the less, for fans of the show - and the genre in general - it's surely a must addition to their collection. Given the quality of Charlie Brooker's cutting edge, and extremely dark, scripts, it's worthy of a recommendation and a site award. I just hope that his dinner parties aren't are dark as his imagination!
Unfortunately, the wonders of the series hasn't gone unnoticed in Hollywood as Robert Downey Jr. has optioned an episode from series one with the aim of producing a science-fiction thriller. The episode in question is The Entire History of You and is based around a world in which people can replay their memories using implant technology - and, to be honest, this is still, by far, the best episode from both series (and still my favourite). Still, on the plus side, at least no one has decided to option that episode with the pig...
- Be right back Q&A with Charlie Brooker (Writer), Annabel Jones (Executive Produer), Owen Harris (Director) and Hayley Atwell (Actor)