BLACK MIR­ROR Sea­son Three

Elec­tric Streams

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 2016 | 15 | sVOd Cre­ator Char­lie Brooker Cast Macken­zie davis, alex lawther, Bryce davies Howard, Charles Ba­baloia

net­flix Fans might have felt trep­i­da­tion at Char­lie Brooker’s tech-night­mares show leav­ing spir­i­tual home Channel 4 be­hind for the wider hori­zons of Net­flix. Thank­fully the re­sults are a tri­umph. Sea­son three feels like a faith­ful con­tin­u­a­tion of what came be­fore, but also, thanks to slicker pro­duc­tion val­ues and a more high-pro­file ros­ter of tal­ent, a sig­nif­i­cant pro­gres­sion.

Sat­is­fy­ingly, it sees Brooker ex­plor­ing a greater va­ri­ety of set­ting, for­mat and tone. Sure, sea­son three still has that darkly bit­ter Black Mir­ror tang, and an episode like “Shut Up & Dance” could slot seam­lessly into any se­ries. Oth­ers, how­ever, feel like quite a de­par­ture. Retro ro­mance “San Ju­nipero” is gen­uinely heart­warm­ing, to the point where you could ar­gue it has a feel­good end­ing. The calami­tous farce of so­cial me­dia dystopia “Nose­dive” (surely in­spired by app Peeple?) is as close to this se­ries has come to out-and-out comedy. And if you charged peo­ple to watch fea­ture-length po­lice-pro­ce­dural “Hated In The Na­tion” in cine­mas, few would feel short-changed.

Adding these ex­tra flavours was a smart move, be­cause there are mo­ments where you could just be­gin to feel that Black Mir­ror is re­tread­ing old ground. The themes of “Hated In The Na­tion” over­lap with se­ries one’s “The Na­tional An­them”. And “Shut Up & Dance” shares its high con­cept with sim­ply scores of DTV hor­rors.

But these are pretty petty gripes. Even a slightly less suc­cess­ful episode like VR-game tale “Playtest” – which prom­ises a kick-out-the-jams hor­ror romp it never quite de­liv­ers – is by turns in­trigu­ing, haunt­ing and gross. There isn’t re­ally a weak link to be found across these six in­stal­ments – and how many an­thol­ogy shows can you say that about? Ian Berri­man

Brooker says “Hated In The Na­tion” might get a fol­low-up: “I’ve sort of fig­ured some char­ac­ters from that could re­cur.”

“Wow, @ian­ber­ri­man’s tweets are so funny.”

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