'Black Mirror' returns solid, with some cracks

Rating "Black Mirror" against its own creative resume, the latest batch of a half-dozen installments -- which Netflix...

Posted: Dec 27, 2017 11:16 PM
Updated: Dec 27, 2017 11:16 PM

Rating "Black Mirror" against its own creative resume, the latest batch of a half-dozen installments -- which Netflix will drop right before New Year's -- offers more of a mixed bag than usual, with two or three standouts and the rest conceptually interesting but rather ho-hum affairs.

Like any anthology series, "Black Mirror" is only as good as the episode you're watching, although the batting average for writer-producer Charlie Brooker's "Twilight Zone"-like series -- which focuses on the impact of technology and always seems to be about 15 minutes in the future -- has been admirably high.

"Black Museum," an extra-long edition, is the best of the newcomers, feeling like quintessential "Black Mirror," as well as an homage to "Tales From the Crypt." In it, a woman stumbles upon a crime museum whose creepy curator offers a trio of cautionary tales about technology gone wrong. That includes a comatose woman having her consciousness implanted within her husband, ostensibly a way for them to be together that, not surprisingly, yields unintended consequences.

The other standout, "Hang the DJ," is a love story filtered through a twisted prism of online dating, as two people go through the process of being paired up by computer modules. It's the logical extension of where a world of Tinder and digitally mediated courtship might eventually lead.

The two showiest episodes, meanwhile, both founder a bit in the execution: "Arkangel," directed by Jodie Foster and starring Rosemarie DeWitt, features a woman using a surveillance device to keep tabs on her young daughter, which, again, takes unexpected turns as the child grows up; and "USS Callister," an unabashed "Star Trek" spoof, only here, with a virtual-reality designer ("Breaking Bad's" Jesse Plemons) who escapes into a fantasy world of his own creation with a very colorful "Trek"-esque vibe.

The remaining chapters, "Metalhead," a tense, near-silent action piece, shot in black and white; and "Crocodile," where events are set in motion by a hit-and-run driving incident, are each provocative, but feel like lesser lights -- more "One Step Beyond" than the show's more famous Rod Serling-created inspiration.

All told, it's plenty binge-able, although there's nothing here that reaches the heights of the best "Black Mirror" has to offer, including the recent Emmy winner "San Junipero" or the signature "The National Anthem," which involved a kidnapper making a sordid blackmail demand of the British Prime Minister.

Those two episodes demonstrate the shows range from light to darkness, from hopefulness to bleakness. On that scale, these latest additions tilt toward the latter, which, inadvertently or not, feels like a sign of the times.

To his credit, Brooker (who again wrote all the episodes, one with a collaborator) continues to experiment with the format, capitalizing on the latitude that the show's success has afforded him.

In crass commercial terms, Netflix was extremely smart to acquire the program, a franchise with the sort of devoted following that every subscription service needs.

In that regard, "Black Mirror" is an apt symbol of TV's present, as well as a thoughtful rumination on society through the unsettling lens of what's yet to come.

"Black Mirror" premieres Dec. 29 on Netflix.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 147582

Reported Deaths: 3937
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24410780
Lake12911350
St. Joseph8651154
Elkhart8281130
Allen7756221
Hamilton5872113
Vanderburgh547750
Tippecanoe346414
Monroe316238
Hendricks3116130
Johnson2947127
Porter288948
Clark280857
Delaware277174
Vigo245534
Madison224587
Cass220120
LaPorte208853
Warrick185362
Floyd170865
Kosciusko169221
Howard155366
Bartholomew137557
Dubois133423
Marshall129826
Henry120728
Boone117748
Grant116839
Wayne114923
Hancock112844
Noble110033
Jackson106412
Morgan90840
Dearborn89528
Daviess82732
Gibson8229
Clinton80116
Shelby76929
Lawrence76732
LaGrange76114
Harrison72924
Putnam69415
Knox68610
DeKalb67411
Posey6695
Steuben5798
Miami5655
Montgomery55722
Fayette55615
White55615
Jasper5264
Greene50537
Scott50313
Decatur49339
Adams4555
Clay4266
Whitley4246
Ripley4138
Sullivan40612
Wells4045
Orange38124
Starke3787
Wabash3769
Spencer3656
Huntington3645
Franklin35925
Jennings35813
Washington3452
Randolph3318
Jefferson3275
Fulton3232
Pike31512
Carroll30513
Perry28214
Jay2756
Fountain2733
Tipton26123
Parke2152
Newton20511
Vermillion2031
Owen1991
Rush1984
Martin1930
Blackford1843
Crawford1401
Pulaski1401
Brown1283
Ohio1167
Benton1060
Union1010
Switzerland840
Warren721
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 181787

Reported Deaths: 5067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30590635
Cuyahoga19212671
Hamilton15890338
Montgomery9883184
Lucas8058370
Butler7856122
Summit6406260
Warren393360
Stark3605178
Mahoning3567283
Marion332149
Pickaway294646
Delaware275927
Lorain262389
Fairfield254156
Licking241065
Wood240181
Clark231654
Clermont225936
Trumbull2174134
Greene210840
Columbiana207887
Allen195873
Miami191056
Lake184757
Medina175542
Portage153067
Mercer143327
Ross130533
Wayne125968
Richland125724
Tuscarawas117822
Athens11452
Erie111453
Darke108850
Madison101314
Hancock97520
Auglaize92716
Lawrence88524
Putnam86127
Shelby85014
Geauga81950
Muskingum8174
Scioto7709
Belmont76827
Union7203
Ashtabula71348
Huron6909
Sandusky69022
Seneca57614
Preble57417
Ottawa55930
Holmes53710
Fulton4726
Henry44217
Jefferson4384
Defiance43713
Clinton42013
Jackson4197
Fayette4188
Crawford4088
Logan3923
Champaign3783
Highland3714
Ashland3705
Brown3583
Knox35215
Perry35011
Washington32423
Morrow3222
Williams3124
Hardin30913
Coshocton28612
Pike2780
Wyandot27813
Gallia27413
Guernsey2688
Van Wert2153
Meigs20512
Adams1936
Hocking1899
Carroll1887
Paulding1791
Monroe14118
Noble1120
Vinton853
Harrison763
Morgan690
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 48°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Huntington
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 46°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 46°
Cloudy Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events