Black Mirror: Hang the D.J. (2017)
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Amy and George live inside The System, a walled-off community of singles who are paired off by an artificial intelligence known as Coach. The pairings are used to gather data on a person’s preferences in a partner so that they can one day be given their perfect match. The length of the pairings is seemingly random, with some lasting a couple days to others going on for an entire year. Amy and George are each other’s first date in the System, and they are only together for 12 hours. However, even after being paired up with other people, they feel a pull towards each other.
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Black Mirror: Crocodile (2017)
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by John Hillcoat
Fifteen years ago, on their way home from a club, Rob and Mia hit a cyclist and proceed to toss his body and bike into a lake. Now, Mia is a successful architect who is on a business trip in the city. While she is there, Mia commits a second heinous act and appears to cover this one up as well. However, Shazia an insurance claims investigator is traveling down a path that will come colliding with Mia’s. Shazia uses a new form of technology that uses sensory input to create video images of people’s memories. This way the insurance company has a more accurate gauge of the events that happened. An accident occurs outside Mia’s hotel window the night she makes a decision out of desperation, and she ends up on the list of witnesses to interview.
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Black Mirror: Arkangel (2017)
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by Jodie Foster
Marie is a very protective mother, having almost lost her daughter Sara at birth. Years later, Sara wanders off at a park sparking these feelings of terror again. An experimental new service, Arkangel appears to provide the answer. Arkangel involves injecting a small neural implant into three-year-old Sara and outfits Marie with a tablet computer that allows her to monitor her child 24 hours a day. Sara is also instructed that she can turn on a filter that will pixelate anything Sara sees that sets off her biological stress responses. This block remains as Sara gets into upper elementary and begins to cause problems. It’s also revealed the Arkangel service was banned by the U.S. government and Marie has let her tablet gather dust in the attic. That is until Sara begins to break the rules in adolescence.
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Black Mirror: USS Callister (Netflix)
Written by William Bridges & Charlie Brooker
Directed by Toby Haynes
Robert Daly is the successful Chief Technical Officer of his own gaming company that produces a popular online game called Infinity. Daly is a fan of Space Fleet, an obvious nod to the original Star Trek. He spends his evenings after work in his own offline mod of Infinity where he takes on the Captain Kirk role, and the crew members are subservient replicas of the coworkers he feels slight him on a daily basis. It’s when Nannette joins the company that we learn the creepy secret behind Robert’s game. The other characters are created from the DNA of their originals, and they continue all the memories and personality of their real selves. Robert has placed them in a digital hell where he is a god, and they must serve him.
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Today we’ll wrap things up with a look at the television programs coming to our screen in 2018. Anthologies continue to grow in popularity and the caliber of creator and actor on the small screen is almost outshining cinema.
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (January 12th, Amazon)
It’s pretty obvious one of the key reasons Electric Dreams was developed was due to the success of Black Mirror. Though the two shows are not analogs, they both deal in the realm of speculative, human-centered science fiction. Electric Dreams looks to have some more overtly large scale science fiction one-offs as opposed to Black Mirror’s traditionally grounded approach. There are some talented names attached this project, but with any anthology there are bound to be some episodes that are better in quality than others. My hope is that we come away with at least a couple stories that have an impact and raise some interesting questions.
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My Favorite Television & Music of 2017
Twin Peaks: The Return
There’s no question for me that Twin Peaks: The Return is my favorite media experience of 2017. Out of all the books, movies, music, etc. of the year, nothing affected me and meant as much to me as this revival. David Lynch delivered the most surprising piece of art I have seen in many years. I was continually shocked, awed, and frustrated in all the best ways. I wept at the opening titles of Part 1 and found myself sitting in dazed silence and wonder at the close of Part 18. While some people talk about wanting a Season 4, I believe this was the perfect place to end the series. I first watched Twin Peaks when I was nine years old so to be able to return to this world at the age of 36 will always remain one of the most profound honors of my life.
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Search Party Season 2 (TBS)
Written by Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers, Jordan Firstman, Starlee Kine, Anthony King, Christina Lee, Andrew Fleming, and Matt Kriete.
Directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers, Lilly Burns, and Michael Showalter.
The first season of Search Party ends with the central mystery solved but a much more significant problem on the hands of the four main characters: they murdered someone. The second season picks up right where the first let off and becomes an entirely new animal. Dory is wracked with guilt, knowing that her actions led to this murder. Her ex-boyfriend Drew continues to distance himself from her and is now joined by their friends Elliott and Portia. Each of them is dealing with their part in the murder and cover-up in very different ways, yet all destructive and sloppy in some manner. Whereas the first season was a mix of comedy and mystery, this round is still funny but much more psychological and darker in where it goes.
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