STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

'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 10:16 PM
Updated: Dec 27, 2017 10:16 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
The combo of a no named front and former tropical system Nicholas' leftovers will continue leave us with some pretty decent chances for some showers and thunderstorms over the next several days.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather