Black Mirror is back, and it's brilliant - best sf on TV

As mentioned Charlie Brooker's science fiction TV show Black Mirror is back for another season. This is the second coming of the Twilight Zone: scary, trenchant, clever and sparing in its use of special effects and fully immersive in its storytelling. I've just watched the first episode, "Be Right Back," for a second time, and found myself no less moved by it, but even more impressed by it -- full of tiny, unobtrusive grace-notes and sweet, low-key futuristic moves.

It's available through Channel 4's catch-up service in the UK, and if you use a UK proxy, you can stream it. Otherwise, you'll have to use your imagination to get your copy, or exercise patience. I'm sure that there'll be a second-series DVD (here's the first season).

Black Mirror


  1. I LOVE this series.  I love watching my friends squirm as they watch the shows.  I love knowing that my friends think I’m a dark person for liking this.  For me, it’s a win win. 

  2. “15 Million Merits” (S01E02) remains one of the best things I have watched on television for the past several years.

  3. I downloaded the 3 eps that are out so far after it was plugged on this site the first time, & its definitely as good as the poster describes. Seriously trippy but definitely dark! It makes you think! Surprisingly good.

  4. I think the link you want is (on-demand streaming of the show) not (just shows a trailer).

  5. ‘Be Right Back’: an exploration of grief, it’s avoidance, and an unexpected journey to ‘uncanny valley’, a term I heard recently heard to describe robots that get towards looking human but doesn’t quite get it right… 

  6. So regardless of location Cory suggests using a UK proxy to circumvent “The service is not currently available in your area”?

    The same way he would recommend a way to download his book for free? Or is this different somehow?

  7. Having only seen one episode, I call BS on your claim that it is a sci-fi show.  I watched the first episode, which was very good, but f’ing disturbing and not sci-fi in the slightest.  That would have been fine were that what my girlfriend and I in the mood to watch.  Instead we wanted to watch something sci-fi and relied upon boingboing’s claim that the series was sci-fi in the last post you made about Black Mirror.

    If you’re going to recommend something with a description, please at least be accurate about it.

      1. Trolling is deliberately posting in a way not to make a point or to make what you consider a legitimate complaint but just to get a reaction.  I see no troll here.

        In fact, I have to say I kinda felt the same way. Downloaded that first episode, convinced my wife there was this awesome, highly recommended science fiction anthology– like the Twilight Zone! –we had to watch. (We even postponed watching the Dr. Who Episode we had planned.) Sat down all ready for some dark, science fiction, and…. we got… Pig Fucking.

        My own fault for not checking into it a bit more but I hate risking spoilers.

        And it’s a stretch to call that first one science fiction in my opinion, and not because it doesn’t have lasers. (Patronize much?)

        1. Prehaps Speculative fiction. would be better? But that term is outdated and Harland Ellison would probably sue.
          SciFi..often deals with social issues and present day technology; especially with media and public opinions.
          A lot of it is in the intent: While CSI might deal with SciFI type technology etc…there’s no “Speculative Fiction” in the intent.

          1. I dunno.  The brush is getting pretty broad if just dealing with social issues and present day technology make something science fiction with no other SciFi element. 

            How about “SwineFi” for that first one?

          2. Do you get this bent out of shape any time you watch any of the many episodes of Twilight Zone that aren’t strictly sci-fi? Just as the “Twilight Zone” isn’t necessarily a scientific space, but a “dimension of the mind,” the “Black Mirror” isn’t a window into a science fictional time, but a surface showing a warped/dark reflection of contemporary social and media issues.

            In any case, all of the other episodes are much more overtly science fictional. Since you seem to be hankering for something very overtly sci-fi, I’d suggest the next episode, which is a pretty by-the-books 1984/Brave New World future dystopia story. It’s a little hackneyed, but that makes its genre pedigree more unambiguous, which should serve you well.

            The third episode involves the ramifications of an embedded Google-glass-type chip that records everything you see, and the newest episode is a near-future extrapolation from the contemporary ubiquity of social media and the huge amounts of externally-stored data about ourselves.

        2. I guess you missed the part where social media was technology at issue. Also maybe the part where they were going to create a computer model of him. I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s SCIENCE fiction, not FUTURE fiction. You might feel patronized, but maybe you’re operating under false assumptions about what that phrase means. 

          Science fiction is about exploring the way technology changes the way we live and relate to each other. That’s why a lot of people won’t call Star Wars SF, because it’s more of a space fantasy. 

          I’m sorry your delicate sensibilities were transgressed because there was bestiality in your tv show and somehow everyone at Boing Boing was supposed to know that’s not what you wanted to watch with your wife that night. :/

          1.  “I’m sorry your delicate sensibilities were transgressed because there was bestiality in your tv show”.
            This is such a splendid phrase in every way.

        3. Let me get this straight: You’re complaining this wasn’t Sci-Fi enough to make up for having postponed watching an episode of “Dr. Who”?

          [insert ORLY owl here]

    1. From Wikipedia:

      Science fiction is a genre of fiction with imaginative but more or less plausible content such as settings in the future, futuristic science and technology, space travel, parallel universes, aliens, and paranormal abilities.

      I would think parallel universe counted for the first episode. Second episode is even more clearly in your more narrow view of science fiction – dystopian future, shiny technology and implants, etc. Third is also futuristic and deals with implants that record our experiences and allow us to play them back, and the effect it would have on our personal relationships and how we view the world.

      Certainly the most powerful sci-fi show I’ve ever seen.

      1.  I haven’t seen the third one: But wasn’t their a rather famous short story that involved a ‘wasp’ type recording device that recorded your life for viewing on your death? Probably written decades ago if I recall.

      2. The first one was a parallel universe???  Because…why?
        Only thing I can think of is the fact that it depicted a PM that’s not the real one?  Anything else?

        Does that make Castle or Hawaii-5-0 science fiction too?

        By that Wikipedia definition, I still say–it’s a stretch to call that first one science fiction, (and certainly not “very sci fi” as someone above said) though speculative fiction might apply. Not in the future, no futuristic technology, no parallel world, space travel or paranormal elements.

        1. I guess I’m calling it that because none of the events in it took place in our reality, and the characters were all invented but parallel to real figures (the Queen, the princess, the PM, etc, etc). However, it was all taking place “now”…but not? It’s clearly Earth, but not our earth. 

          Also, speculative fiction can encompass science fiction. And fantasy. And historical fiction. Because the episode dealt with technology specifically I feel that it should still be considered science fiction. But that’s just my opinion.

          I also feel that people going into it looking for hardline “science fiction” will be sorely disappointed. It has a lot of the feeling of Samuel R. Delany’s science fiction, where the sci-fi takes a background to the drama, emotion and character development. All of that just happens to be occurring in a sci-fi world, and sometimes you even forget. S01E03 “The History of You” took my breath away, and brought tears to my eyes at times.

        2. I’d suggest it’s “science fiction” in the sense that it’s dealing thematically with technology and its use in culture, even when it’s not extrapolating into the future. The first episode of Black Mirror emphasizes the role different electronic media play in political and news events, and its main themes and “message” relate specifically to electronic media and how it informs contemporary culture. I would say it’s science fiction in the same so-near-future-its-practically-the-present-because-its-commenting-on-present-day-tech vein as the (admittedly shitty) movie The Net. 

        3. As it was described by others, what makes SF, “Science” Fiction is talking about a scientific advance and its impact on our lives, modern communication technology and this episode hits the mark although with the satirical side turned to 11.

      3. Parallel Universe? Not really, the first episode of the first season was pretty much based on how the PM, Gordon Brown, was treated and hounded by the media when he wasn’t aware of a mike still running when he was in his car, badmouthing a person he had just met. The modern communication technologies really brought a PM down for the first time that day. 
        It is pretty much a dark satire on the Politics and the News Media Circus here in UK and what a lovely episode.
        I’d still class it as SF but with a very tenuous link.

    2. You must have watched the first episode of series 1, which is not really sci-fi, though it deals with modern technology.

      I don’t remember the first episode in details, but I remember it being a little bit speculative and set in the (near) future.The other 3 stories so far have been definite sci-fi, though of a similar style of projecting technology that *almost* exists to a point where it tests the human condition.

      I think the average viewer wouldn’t even recognise it as sci-fi unless you pointed it out. Most people seem the think Star Wars (or Trek) when you mention sci-fi, which is a shame. I do love Star Wars/Trek, but they are not representative of sci-fi in a broad sense.

  8. I bought the DVD for the first series after the last post on Black Mirror. It seems to come defective by design and won’t play on my computer. Macrovision RipGuard is also PlayGuard it seems. That’s one DVD to be sent back. Everyone be warned before buying.

  9. How is it I can get all four seasons of WraithGirls on 4k VioRay, but Black Mirror is only available on low-res DVD?

  10. Use Tunnel Bear to watch UK TV… Worth the 5 bucks per month for all the great programs. If you like Black Mirror, check out Utopia on Ch4OD 

  11.  My wife and I just finished this episode after devouring the first season after it was pimped by Cory here a couple weeks ago.

    The team behind these productions seem to go out of their way to strike as near to the heart strings as possible on every opportunity.

    The best way I can come up with to describe it is this:

    It is the television equivalent of an abusive relationship.

    But I love it, and it didn’t mean to scare/hurt/terrify me, not really, we’re better now. You know, until next week

  12. After ‘acquiring’ the current episodes, I think I’ve decided I’m not going over to BB’s house to watch TV.

  13. Tried to watch it on 4oD’s site, failed.
    I’ve seen about 30 advertisements now, in front of different episodes (oh, and the older one require a log-in — no way!), after which I will be either dumped to a black stillframe (and network traffic of zero), or the flash plugin will crash. In both cases I can then choose to watch advertisements again and repeat the procedure indefinitely.
    Works in both Opera and Firefox.

    1. Hm. Not a fan of 4OD or ITVPlayer, they’re both a bit shonky I find. If I’ve missed something, and it was ITV or CH4, I usually just torrent it rather than deal with their horrible Flash players (plus, no ad breaks that way).

  14. Oh sweet Jesus how realistic is this? I realise some sort of sophisticated chatbot could probably do a good job at mimicking someone’s probable responses… but, like, is AI anywhere near this?! I know it’s meant to cut to the horrible truth but… it makes me wanna cry and cry. Bleugh. 

  15. Thank you for making my valentines day interesting. Nothing quite like watching a show about a man fucking a pig to get me into the mood.

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