The programme is best when it aims to shake, not shockby Lucinda Smyth / November 4, 2016 / Leave a comment
This piece contains some minor spoilers
When Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror first aired on Channel 4 in 2011, it was astonishing. There was nothing else like it on television. Engaging with contemporary concerns surrounding internet privacy and social media, it not only presented an eerily prescient view of the near-future, but crucially it did so from the perspective of the ordinary and everyday. It explored dystopian possibilities at a fine-grained level, often depicting the lives of average people, employing low-key lighting and mostly lesser-known actors. This small-scale intimacy is what made the show effective: it felt claustrophobically close-to-home.
Fast-forward five years and Black Mirror has had a Hollywood makeover. Now in its third series, the show was acquired by Netflix last year, and under its direction is noticeably bigger, glossier and sharper. Offering six episodes per series instead of three, the American streaming service has doubled the size of the show in one dramatic data-dump. The acting line-up includes Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), with a directing credit from Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), and writing help from Michael Schur and Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation). How did all this come about, and what effect has it had on the tone of the show?
The first stage of this transformation dates back to 2014. Though still broadcasted by Channel 4, the festive episode “White Christmas” marked a significant departure…