I should really write something about Inside Number 9, given that we recently hurtled through its six series at perhaps a greater pace than we did Line of Duty. But I’m not, I’m writing about Black Mirror because I may as well write about something reasonably soon after watching it.
What does Inside Number 9 have to do with Black Mirror? On the face of it, nothing. But drag the waters and you see that both are pretty exquisitely constructed anthology series (each episode is completely unrelated to what came before. Or comes after). Both were created by middle aged dudes who were cult icons in about 2000, before gradually becoming part of the furniture. And both seem pretty great. So what more do you need?
Nothing. Good. I’ll go into detail on the Inside Number 9 post about that one, but in a nutshell: it’s Steve Pemberton and Reese Shearsmith (from League of Gentlemen and Psychoville; and seemingly always named in that order) making it clear that they are embarrassingly talented, as they shape six standalone episodes of TV that could each be pilots or kernels of movies, every year. And none is bad. Some are amazing.
Black Mirror is Charlie Brooker (and friends), who at the time of League of Gentlemen had his satirical fake TV listings website TV Go Home, and was soon to pour scorn over everythig on a weekly basis for The Guardian. He’s now pretty damn well known. He also apparently has very good ideas and turns them into standalone episodes of excellence. Being on Netflix, I think Black Mirror is probably already more familiar to you lot than it is to me. Hey ho.
There are three episodes in series one, all kind of Twilight Zone/Outer Limits, but very plausible, which is where the real scariness comes in. I won’t describe the plots (watch them), but you’ve got a pilot episode about the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom being black mailed into doing something… awful. Then there is an episode about fitness fads, fame, reality shows and virtual selves (my favourite). And then one in which all of our experiences are recorded by an implant (COVID vaccine!!) that we can then replay and broadcast; the episode concerns itself with how that can magnify already obsessive personalities.
They are all great. What’s really shocking is how relevant and scary they are as a sense of “today taken to its logical conclusion” but they were made a damn decade ago. That’s really bloody impressive. It’s like they’ve predicted, if not the terminus, at least the trajectory of where we are going technologically and socio-culturally. All those years of shouting and swearing about culture has obviously given Brooker a keen eye. And you also get to see a pretty stellar cast (Daniel Kaluuya, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jodie Whittaker) often before they were mega famous.
So yes, that’s it for now. Just some thoughts on the first series before I get too far past it. Toodles!