Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Black Mirror - Be Right Back and White Bear

On TV: Monday 11th/18th February 2013
Channel: Channel 4 10pm
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Episode Type: Series 2 Episodes 1 and 2

In 1 Sentence: Utterly compelling and ethically fascinating - this is television at its very best!
C4 Summary: International Emmy winner Black Mirror, written by Charlie Brooker, returns with three brand new films. Each story is in turn, disarming, suspenseful and darkly satirical, and all explore our modern reality. 
Ep 1: Martha and Ash are a young couple who move to a remote cottage. The day after the move, Ash is killed, returning the hire van.
At the funeral, Martha’s friend Sarah tells her about a new service that lets people stay in touch with the deceased. By using all his past online communications and social media profiles, a new ‘Ash’ can be created.
Martha is disgusted by the concept but then in a confused and lonely state she decided to talk to ‘him’...
Ep 2: Victoria wakes up and cannot remember anything about her life. Everyone he encounters refuses to communicate with her and enjoys filming her discomfort on their phones.
Victoria meets Jem, who explains that a signal is being transmitted that has turned most of the population into dumb voyeurs. This apathy has allowed the unaffected, the ‘hunters’, to do what they want and they are out to get people like her and Victoria.
Jem and Victoria set out to destroy the transmitter, but can they manage it and will it end their torment?

My Review: Black Mirror was some of the best pieces of drama I saw at the end of 2011/ start of last year and I’m was so excited to hear that there was more instore. And opening with a very intriguing episode revolving around Hayley Atwell losing her fiancĂ©e Domhnall Gleeson in a tragic accident and, through a creepy new piece of technology, comes to terms with her grief. I loved the quiet intensity that Atwell brought to the drama and how close to reality it was. The tech wasn’t too far removed from our everyday and the progression felt very natural which made it all the more creepy. It started with using his online presence to mimic him in online conversations, but where it ends is a new level of horrific. And is horrendous to think about. I couldn’t tear my eyes away and the ending was very clever, leaving me thinking for days afterwards about the morals behind the piece. Which is exactly what Black Mirror is so good at doing, Highlighting the pieces of our society that are in the grey area morally and how easy it could be to tip into the black. 
So while ‘Be Right Back’ was quite quietly creepy, I was not prepared for how downright terrifying ‘White Bear’ would be. Lenora Crichlow stars as Victoria who awakens in an abandoned house not remembering who she is or how she got there. And as it says in the summary above is chased by ‘hunters’ while everyone else watches and films her as she is tormented. What followed is something I don’t think anyone saw coming, from what I have read online, and is something that I think will stay with me for a long time to come. It is so much more clever and tragically fascinating that Episode 1, or what I was expecting it to be. And even now I still can’t decide on what is morally right, sparking raging debates on online forums. 
I don’t want to spoil it to much, so I urge you to watch it if you can. But ultimately the entire thing is not at all what it seems and are empathy and sympathy with Victoria may or may not be misplaced depending on your views. Myself, I still empathise, but even as I was watching I could completely understand why everyone else would feel the opposite. The acting so far has been outstanding and without Atwell, Gleeson and Crichlow in particular, it wouldn’t be anywhere as affecting. 
Charlie Brooker is such a smart writer and it is very rare that you find a piece of mainstream television drama to take you opinions and beliefs and turn them on their head, shaking them about. And the saddest thing is, like ‘Be Right Back’, it could easily happen. I could see it happening and while I hope people, myself included, would protest against it, it may not be enough. 
The emotions and thoughts generated from just a view hours of this drama are immense and with only one episode left I’m bracing myself to me emotionally and morally drained once again.

Score: 9.5/10

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