A Stranger Look towards Black Mirror: Season Three

  • Created by: Charlie Brooker
  • Executive Producers: Charlie Brooker and Annibel Jones
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Satire
  • Production Company: Zeppotron
  • Distributor:  Endemol UK
  • Time: 43 to 75 minutes

Synopsis:

“A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.”

The current series sits at two seasons adding up to a total of six episodes and a Holiday special. A third season will première on October 21, 2016.

A look back (Spoilers)

Having been described as a modern-day take on Twilight Zone, Black Mirror presents a new storyline coupled with new characters every episode, all presenting the theme of technology and postmodern life. Despite the role of technology so heavily driving the plot, it is not an overpowering presence; allowing it to frame the progression, and not lead it. Black Mirror features plot progression through interaction, not focusing mainly on plot devices. This way, the events seem more real, and relatable than a typically jam-packed action plot of the typical American sci-fi.

Illustrated through a new plot every episode, Black Mirror takes a psychological approach to the topic at hand, allowing the viewer into the mind and thought process of the characters in question. It allows a deeper connection and understanding, granting more relatability to the character than through thoughts and actions alone.

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Dark, emotional, intriguing, and mysterious, this show leaves the viewer questioning almost to the end about what will happen. Through out each episode, I analyzed the plot and created predictions, expecting the storyline to follow accordingly; but every single time, I was wrong. Following the plot, the change is so smooth that the initial hitting factor is not out there and ridiculous but slow enough to a real and understandable shock.

Much like The Twilight Zone, the viewer delves into a fully developed and thriving world, left to observe and create conclusions based on what is in front of them. This world, much like our own, has distinct differences and an order that which all characters follow accordingly. From rice-sized memory recording chips to the ability to fully block a person in your physical life, each technological advantage frames but does not lead the storyline. In drastic contrast to other sci-fi series of similar nature, the technology does not absorb the narrative. Apart from a few differences, most of the world is recognizable, leaving all other aspects unchanged.

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Through out each episode, the storyline focuses on the characters involved, highlighting their relationships, interests, occupations, mindsets, and overall characteristics to create a personal and intimate understanding of them. In no way is it difficult for the viewers to place themselves in the character’s shoes, looking at the topic at hand through their eyes. I do not believe there was a single character that I could not empathize with, the connection so strong that all motives were understood.

Black Mirror does a wonderful job on manipulating viewer emotions, not only through that deep connection but through setting. The series is no stranger to using lighting or music to its advantage. In the second episode of season one, one of the main characters uses a song for an audition, ultimately disappearing and never being seen again. To hear those lyrics being sung five episodes later brought back those initial emotions, flooding me the sorrow and fondness I had initially felt.

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Personal Thoughts (Spoilers): 

Black Mirror can easily be described as one of my new favorite shows. Upon watching the first and second episode, I fell in love with the characters, storyline, and general theme coupling its execution; all in all creating an experience that I had not witnessed with any other show. Black Mirror prides itself on taking the topic at hand and breaking it down into smaller segments, covering each part in such a way that even the tiniest details are shown in depth.

Through out the six episodes and holiday special of season one and two, my favorite episodes would have to be episode one and two of season one. The thought and emotion put into these plots really grabbed me, leaving my eyes glued to the screen until the very end. With the goal of grabbing and pulling a viewer and their interest in, I would hands down say that Charlie Brooker did a wonderful job.

Episode one, The National Anthem, presented many different takes on one situation: the kidnapping and holding of Princess Susannah, the Duchess of Beaumont. Through out the narrative, the situation highlights the lack of privacy and opens conflict in a modern world. In 12 hours, news had spread from a youtube video left up for seven minutes, to a global knowledge. With the kidnappers making the ransom video publicly known, it allows the information to be open to anyone, not allowing the politicians to keep it hidden and discreet. Par the request of the kidnappers, the Prime Minister must perform unsavory actions with a pig, promising the Duchess’s safe return if all conditions are appropriately met. On top of the struggle to save Princess Susannah, a moral and emotional dilemma is added to the mixture by means of the Prime Minister.

To have such a curious and far fetched idea be the first episode of a new series, the viewer cannot help but be drawn in from the questions that surrounds the topic. How will they attempt a safe return? What steps does the government take to go around such a vulgar demand? To what further extent do the kidnappers go to ensure they get their demands met? And finally, what is the ultimate decision of the Prime Minister?

Upcoming: 

As of late 2015, the movie streaming company Netflix has now commissioned the creator for a third season, originally consisting of 12 episodes. Currently, Black Mirror is set for its Season Three of six episodes. Perhaps a fourth will follow with the same amount will follow.

Thoughts for Season Three:

Based on the trailer alone, I do have high hopes for this season, wishing that it will fit those shoes season one and two had filled. The presence of technology in everyday relations seems to flow over, but the sci-fi aspects and societal changes appear to be one of the ultimate differences. Whereas the original allowed the world and its holdings to remain unchanged, the snip-it suggests that everything has changed following the advances of technology. The tone and drama are still there, themes appearing to highlight smaller aspects of a larger problem.

Initially, I was very excited for a third season. The two previous captured me, holding my attention tightly and not letting go until it was over and there was no more. In short, I wanted more. According to my personal bias, I am always against sequels, feeling that the original fit the picture the best; but in this instance, that bias was completely thrown away. Following the brevity of the past two seasons, I felt that a third one would fit along perfectly. To now hear that this third season’s creation is through a separate vendor, I find myself uneasy.

While Netflix has done a wondrous job with titles in the past, I fear that it will not have the same tone and success as the original did at captivating an audience. I fear that while it will hold the same name, the emotion and message will be lacking now that the episodes are not so far, far, and artfully crafted. It is a commissioned work, however, so it can be assumed that the same themes and aspects that we all know and love about the original will carry over.

At the end of the day, I hope for the best. Just like all other fans, I await anxiously for another installment.

 

-Katherine A 

A Stranger Look at STRANGER THINGS, Season 1

Recently, the movie streaming company Netflix has expanding their horizons by taking the film industry into their own hands by producing original content. These series and movies as a whole have taken off in popularity, creating some of the most loved and watched shows today.

Today’s look will focus their recent series: Stranger Things.

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    • Created by: The Duffer Brothers
    • Executive Producer: The Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen
    • Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine
    • Genre: TV Shows, TV Sci-Fi and Fantasy
    • Production: 21 Laps Entertainment
    • Distributor: Netflix
    • Release Date: July 15th, 2016

Synopsis:

“When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one strange little girl”

Personal Thoughts (Spoilers): 

Stranger Things provides the viewer a gateway back to November 1983 into the small, fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Unlike a large majority of dated media, the series does not coin itself on being a 1980’s show. Instead, the viewer drifts through the atmosphere created, transporting themselves back into a middle school and high school environment while following the main protagonists. The main characters, a group of middle school outcasts by the names of Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair, provide an easy and quick relation to not only themselves but the story itself.

After a brief introduction to the main cast of characters through a D&D campaign, the plot begins its launch when Will Byers goes missing; taken by a mysterious, unrecognizable creature. It is through this launch that the understanding of certain characters becomes more noticeable; such as the mother and brother of the missing boy.

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The mother, Joyce Byers, gains easy sympathy upon the sudden loss of her son. Characterized by dedication and love for her son, there is no stop to how hard she will try to get him back. I love that despite how different and weird he is from the rest of the family, Joyce does not try to change a thing, instead embracing his differences. By supporting him and his interests, the mother provides a stable ground for Will to walk on, providing a loving support system. Despite her constant need to work to aid the house and family, she takes time to bond with her son. Despite being in middle school, she got him tickets to see Poltergeist; a movie shows interest in. She knows the password to get into his personal space and uses it, respecting his privacy and authority of the area.

When Will Byers goes missing, her dedication and perseverance kick in. Joyce goes on an emotional roller coaster trying to save him from an unknown force. This high-powered emotion becomes her downfall that when she reaches out to anyone for help, they accuse her of being crazy and distraught. Despite this, she is not stopped. Joyce knows what is right and sticks to it, trying her hardest to bring her son back safe and sound. There is something heartbreaking about a misunderstood and mistrusted mother tearing her house apart, trying to get answers about her missing son.

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The series does a wonderful job of building suspension without reaching cheesy or campy levels. To fit the mysterious tone, the viewer only discovers clues and aspects at the same time as the characters, creating it to be more inclusive and absorbing. This suspension is built through mystery, light and shadows, and tone. Earthy and deep colors are mainly employed, creating a naturally dark ambiance even if the setting takes place in broad daylight.  I love how through the colors and lack thereof, they manage to make strings of Christmas lights look ominous.

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Recently, news has arisen that Stranger Things will return for a second season. Moving on from the original story line, the plot and characters will cycle over as the mysteries of Hawkins, Indiana continue. With season one being such a riveting success, the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, are hoping for a few more seasons to build and expand characters and the lore of the land.

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I do not feel that Stranger Things should get this second season or any more seasons that the producers are hoping for. As a whole, it presents itself as a short series of eight episodes, all pieced together in a fluid and complete story line.  Upon the ending of the last episode, the viewer leaves with a sense of completion; all loose ends wrapped up and accounted for. In no way does that seem like a good or legitimate way to begin up again in the second season. Unless there is a completely new cast following an entirely new story line, the endings of season one would make no sense in comparison to the beginnings of season two. Unfortunately, this is not what the producers are planning.

I feel that this series is much like the Cartoon Network short of Over the Garden Wall. This is mainly due to the short and complete feeling that surrounds both series. The fluidity of the story lives among itself and itself alone, providing no wiggle room for continuation. Given the film industry’s obsession with sequels, this action is no surprise. To have a one-shot series would be a delight, but gaining a season two is definitely not the end of the world. Ultimately, I am looking forward to seeing how the producers can expand upon the world.

Katherine A