Black Mirror: The Complete Fourth Series (DVD SF TV series review).

October 21, 2020 | By | Reply More

Be warned, the first episode is 75 minutes long although it’s pretty misleading when 125 minutes popped up on the screen and there is no division times between the two episodes per disk.

‘USS Callister’ seems to be a ‘Star Trek’ spin until it is revealed that its captain, Robert Daly (actor Jesse Plemons) is running a virtual reality. He’s also chief programmer of a reality creating firm, but the USS Callister reality is kept away from the main stream game. Thing is, he has been stealing the DNA of people in the company he doesn’t really like or has a grudge against and turning them into crew and becomes a control freak with what he does with them and they are powerless while he’s there when they can act normally. The thing is, he brings in a new employee’s DNA, Nanette Cole (actress Cristin Milloti), whom he actually liked but she turns things against him.

As much as I loved the parody and plot, digitising someone’s DNA to make avatars does not create personalities and surely a bit more research could have come up with a better solution. After all, Daly runs the company, surely he would have had the means to digitalise a personality, more so as he uses a tiny device to enter the reality himself.

The second story, ‘Arkangel’, is set in an American suburb. When single mum, Marie (actress Rosemarie DeWitt), loses her daughter, Sara (actress Aniya Hodge), in the park, she gets a trail equipment installed. Sara has an implant that enables her to be monitored on a form of iPad, watch her medical, censor things that frighten her and other things if she chooses to. Initially, Marie treats it as a toy but becomes a bit obsessive. Eventually, Marie stops watching until Sara (actress Brenna Harding) turns 15 and realising her daughter has lied about where she has gone one night, reuses its iPad and sees her lose her virginity and some coke. Not a happy mummy and the rest is spoiler.

This episode was directed by Jodie Foster and a clever idea but has a problem in showing the passage of time. Not that how it was shown wasn’t clever but nothing really happens other than Sara not being able to see a barking dog. A bit more thought there by scriptwriter Charlie Brooker could have made it more significant.

The oddly titled ‘Crocodile’ follows the events of a pair of people driving a car in a hilly snowy backdrop and accidentally run over and kill a cyclist. Rather than report to the police and risk a manslaughter charge, Rob (actor Andrew Gower) and his girl-friend, Mia (actress Andrea Riseborough) pack the body into a sleeping bag with rocks and dump it in the lake. 15 years later, Rob is a recovering alcoholic and Mia Nolan is a celebrity speaker and they haven’t seen each other for many years. However, while Mia is in town doing a speech, Rob visits her hotel room. He’s seen the worry of the cyclist’s wife still thinking he’s alive and wants to send her an anonymous letter about what happens.

Mia, realising the police could track the source down, kills Rob. While she’s working out what to do, Mia becomes one of the witnesses to an accident outside. She dumps Rob’s body in a steam vent. Although the injured man isn’t killed, insurance assessor Shaia (actress Kiran Sonia Sawar) has legal authority to retrieve memories of witnesses using a device that calls up their visual memories and has to be done over a 24 hour period while the memories are still fresh. We follow her route to when she discovers Mia and sees Rob’s murder. The rest is spoiler. It’s also one of the best stories even if you know where it is going to lead but still an excellent twist and almost brings me saying no eye was unturned or not probed in this story. No crocodiles were seen or hurt in this story. Better watch out.

‘Hang The DJ’ is another misnomer title and probably a misdirection. Frank and Amy belong to a dating service called The System which tries out different relationships to find the right compatibility. It is mutually agreed to look at their circular device together to see how long the relationship will last. Hardly surprising that a short time means a quick move towards sex. Oddly, Frank (actor Joe Cole) and Amy (actress Georgina Campbell) don’t take advantage of this and go their different ways and into various other relationships, occasionally seeing each other along the way. Frank gets a particular bad relationship that lasts for a year and not happy.

Eventually, he and Amy are put back together and vow not to look at how long their relationship is supposed to last. Eventually, curiosity gets the better of him and he looks alone and the 5 year period suddenly drops to hours and when Amy finds out she isn’t happy but they both plan to escape and ignore the device. Then we are in spoiler territory. I should point out that no DJs were hung in this story but not really sure about this compatibility test. I suspect writer Charlie Brooker wanted to do a love story with a happy ending but you would think voyeurs and other such people could use such a system to fantasise relationships than to test them out.

Now ‘Metalhead’ is the remains of a dystopia future. Bella (actress Maxine Peake), with two companions, Tony and Mike, are getting into a warehouse to grab some supplies when they are attacked by a robot we are later told they call a dog. It is relentless in its pursuit, killing her male companions and firing a tracker into her. Although Bella manages to pull it out of her leg, a slow blood drip does leave her spoor trail and she has to out-fox the dog. Anything beyond that is spoiler but it is a corker of a story with a small cast.

The final story, ‘Black Museum’, is actually that. Nish (actress Lititia Wright) is the only visitor to Rolo Haynes (actor Douglas Hodge) museum, that is largely devoted to his own experimental equipment. He relates two stories. One where a doctor is hooked up so he can feel a patient’s pain and jump-starts therapy or operation. However, damage to its controller gets him a taste for pain that drives him mad.

The second story has the personality of road-injured semi-comatose woman put into her husband’s brain. Initially thought of as a good idea, the husband resents being told what to do and is given a switch to turn her off. Things don’t go well. These two short stories are actually a lead up to the main event which is totally spoiler and just deserts.

Although as I point out above, I don’t think all the stories science was thought through far enough, the majority make for some dark stories and not altogether sure I would want to live in these darkly mirrored realities.

GF Willmetts

October 2020

(pub: Dazzler Media, 2017. 3 DVDs, 6 variable timed episodes 347 minutes. Price: I pulled my copy for £ 9.99 (UK). ASIN: B078XYBRL6)

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Category: Scifi, TV

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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