Channel 4 have released full details of the upcoming Black Mirror second series, in which professional cynic Charlie Brooker tells three more tales of the modern world gone horribly wrong. The previous series didn't always work in execution, but the concept, I think, is great and deserves a chance to refine itself. (If you want to see my opinion of the first series at greater length, I did full reviews for this site.)
But what's coming up in year two? Will it be darker, grimmer, shinier? Will anyone else molest any livestock?
The three episodes are...
Be Right BackHayley Atwell (pictured above, also in Captain America) is Martha, whose boyfriend passes away, but she is able to recreate him through an app that mimics his personality via past social media posts. How real is this replacement, and could she ever bring herself to move on from it?
Charlie Brooker says of this episode: "I looked at Twitter one night and thought "what if all these people were dead, and everything they were saying was being mimicked by a piece of software"? Because that's the kind of thing I think late at night. People spend hours typing messages into Facebook, Twitter, you name it - what if there was a service that could harvest all this, and pretend to be you after you died? Copy your figures of speech; crack the same sort of jokes that you do; proffer the same opinions and so on. Even if you knew it was only software, if that was a friend or relative of yours, the temptation to chat with a program like that would be unbearable, especially if you were grieving."
White BearDebra (played by Lenora Crichlow of Being Human) awakes in world where a huge percentage of the population have been transformed dumb voyeurs, only interested in filming everything for personal amusement. Can she break the spell, and does she want to?
Here's Brooker again: "I was thinking of the ubiquity of camera phones here. The audience at any gig is a sea of little blue lights. During the riots over student fees, there were scenes on the news where you'd have one person smashing in the window of a bank while 50 people filmed it on their phones. During the Libyan uprising you could see people walking around filming the aftermath of attacks, almost like tourists. When Gaddafi's body lay on display for a couple of days, people crowded round it with their phones out. It all looked pretty nightmarish. Almost like a zombie movie, I thought."
The Waldo MomentWaldo is a blue cartoon bear from a political satire show, voiced by failed comedian Jamie (Daniel Rigby of Eric & Ernie). Such is Waldo's success that the character ends up standing for a Parliamentary seat as a stunt. Can Jamie live with his increased role in the dumbing down of democracy?
One more time from Charlie: "Back when Chris [Morris] and I were doing Nathan Barley we had an idea for a storyline in which someone invented a sort of animated MP - like something from the band Gorillaz. It seemed like something that could potentially catch on. Today there's no doubt that the relationship between politicians and the public has become increasingly strained - MPs are widely viewed as a different, inherently untrustworthy species. Literally like weird creatures we just have to put up with. And they're easy to mock, but they're not easy to replace. And at the same time you've got someone like Boris Johnson becoming wildly popular in part because he represents "character", something most MPs seem to lack. He's become bulletproof. He can actively, openly fuck up - literally performing slapstick at times - and people seem to love him for it. Never mind his policies. He rose to prominence by doing panel shows. Now some predict he'll be PM one day. That's an odd state of affairs."
So, those are our new episodes. Channel 4 haven't yet committed to the precise airdate beyond "soon", and the running order is also subject to change, but how does the new Black Mirror run look to you? Personally I think Be Right Back could be the one to watch and White Bear might drift a little into obvious satire. What do the rest of you think?