Mir­ror, Mir­ror

Black is one of the finest and most un­set­tling TV shows of re­cent years, but do we re­ally need a book to show us the strings? Donal O’Donoghue re­ports

RTÉ Guide - - Books -

For those of you who may have been liv­ing un­der a rock, Black Mir­ror is surely one of the smartest and most dis­turb­ing TV shows of the 21st Cen­tury, a sort of R-rated Twi­light Zone, as fan Stephen King has de­scribed it. Born on Chan­nel 4, it has truly come into its own on the stream­ing gi­ant Net­flix, which re­port­edly gave bucket-loads of lu­cre to cre­ators Char­lie Brooker and Annabel Jones, and Hol­ly­wood names like Jodie Foster (di­rec­tor, Arkan­gel) and Bryce Dal­las Howard (ac­tor, Nose­dive) came on board. The word is that a new in­ter­ac­tive episode is com­ing this Christ­mas. First, though, comes this stock­ing filler.

I’m not sure what In­side Black Mir­ror adds to the Big Pic­ture, un­less you’re a to­tal BM anorak or one of those peo­ple who wants to see how the sausage is made. Hosted by Brooker and Jones, with nov­el­ist/screen­writer Ja­son Arnopp pulling the whole shoot­ing gallery to­gether, the book is a se­ries of con­ver­sa­tions about episodes from each of the four sea­sons, with con­trib­u­tors in­clud­ing Foster, Dal­las Howard and Jodie Whit­taker. We learn that Rupert Everett re­fused to re­move his mir­ror-shades while on set to play a Si­mon Cow­ell­type judge in Fif­teen Mil­lion Mer­its and Dal­las Howard re­veals how her fa­ther, Ron Howard, had a panic at­tack when they first watched Nose­dive to­gether. Brooker used to write a highly orig­i­nal and acidly acer­bic TV col­umn, be­fore go­ing from poacher to game­keeper. It’s hard to imag­ine what he’d make of this project: van­ity, cash-in or both? In his fore­word, he con­cludes with the ex­hor­ta­tion to “stop read­ing this bit of the book and start read­ing the other bits.” In many ways, you feel like adding stop read­ing this book and watch the TV se­ries if you haven’t al­ready done so. If you have, then just watch it again. There’s so much more in­side Black Mir­ror than any book could pos­si­bly ex­plain, be­cause in some ways it’s about what’s in­side each viewer’s head.

* In­side Black Mir­ror by Char­lie Brooker, Annabel Jones and Ja­son Arnopp (Ebury Press)

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