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Black Mirror review: the Netflix series is back and darker than ever

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Charlie Brookers ambitious near-future fables return for another six episodes and deliver dread and paranoia on every corner

Dont be fooled by the gorgeous scenery that makes up much of the fourth season of Black Mirror (Netflix). Its near-future fables take place over mountainous snowscapes, expanses of moorland and sprawling deserts, but its world is taut and panicked, full of damaged and damaging people, and every corner promises dread and paranoia. If theres any festive spirit left lingering, then this will knock it right out of you. Black Mirror is darker than it has ever been.

Charlie Brookers series returns for another six episodes, each of which is regally confident and more cinematically ambitious than almost anything the show has done before, with the exception, perhaps, of season threes San Junipero. Having a transatlantic budget really suits it, for the most part, allowing for some impressive feats of invention and greater scope.

While the running time of these standalone stories varies from 40 minutes to 85 minutes or so, each one plays out like a mini-movie, boldly establishing its own troubling world. ArkAngel, directed by Jodie Foster, could be an American indie; Metalhead is like a Ben Wheatley experiment, and USS Callister, easily this years best instalment, could have been pulled from the very darkest recesses of JJ Abrams mind and thrust into multiplexes to rattle unsuspecting moviegoers.

All three are likely to be the principal talking points, and when Black Mirror is at its best, it provokes discussion, though often less about technological developments and more about the fallibility of human nature. It can be difficult to discuss this show without revealing what makes it so effective so many of the storylines rely on wrongfooting viewers and yanking the curtain away at the last minute that even a hint of a plot spoiler would trample the fun. But all is rarely as it seems and, as usual, were left to play the game by filling in the gaps where we can. Whats going on in the hyper-stylised, darkest timeline Star Trek-ish world of USS Callister is revealed fairly quickly, but it more than justifies its bumper length, finding tension in cruelty and thrills in adventure, and it is the neatest and most satisfying of the bunch.

The
The best of Black Mirror, season four. Clockwise from top left: Arkangel, Crocodile, Black Museum, USS Callister, Metalhead, and Hang the DJ. Composite: Netflix

There are glimmers of hope and light, too, in Hang The DJ, which attempts to see how love would look in a world where Tinder, Alexa and every algorithm thats ever defined you come together in an electronic snowglobe which establishes you who youre allowed to have sex with and for how long. But any sweetness is short-lived. ArkAngel, which puts parents inside the heads of their children in the interests of safety, is a gothic slow-burner that touches on a universal fear of how quickly kids grow up then morphs into a claustrophobic domestic tragedy that takes place over 15 increasingly grim and precarious years.

Metalhead, in which the world has gone all Madchester Max, is shot in black and white, and follows Maxine Peakes Bella on a mission to survive what at first appears to be the worlds most stressful trip to Ikea, and I do not say that lightly. It is a breathlessly tense horror show that never relents for a second. Nor, too, does the upsetting Crocodile, one of the most unpleasant episodes that Black Mirror has ever done, which is laced with the kind of hopeless misanthropy that comes out in its nastier moments, as it did with the hacking blackmail of last seasons Shut Up And Dance. Andrea Riseborough and Kiran Sonia Sawar are award-worthy as the unfortunate duo brought together by secrets and lies. But I found its final punch and twist too much. At its rare weak moments, Black Mirror can have a tendency to favour the shock of the very worst outcome over subtlety, dredging the floors of human nature at its most horrible.

The finale inasmuch as its best to save it until last is Black Museum, a kind of mini anthology in which a devilish curator of now-illegal technology tells the stories of how it was used for wrongdoing. The initial scenes are a true treat for fans, who may wish to play spot-the-tech for devices that have appeared in the past, though I wasnt sold on the final act, which seemed to retread old ground. Given that theres nothing like Black Mirror on TV, its a minor quibble, but where its earlier episodes claimed new territory, I found myself thinking of what these instalments reminded me of: Flatliners, The Lobster, Carrie, even older episodes of Black Mirror. Still, it manages to take those familiar elements and craft them into something impossibly fearful, anxiety-inducing, and, above all, gripping. It may not always be pleasant, but it certainly makes you think.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/dec/29/black-mirror-review-netflix-series-back-darker-charlie-brooker

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The British reality dating show that you need to start watching immediately

Charmaine Blake

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Image: ITV

“At precisely 9 p.m. every night for the next three months, just as the sun is setting over the United Kingdom, Twitter comes alive.

There’s nothing in the water and we certainly can’t blame it on the weather. It’s all because of Love Island, a British reality dating show that currently has the nation transfixed. Brits are gripped by the action unfolding on their television screens, and they begin flooding Twitter with their feelings using the #LoveIsland hashtag.

So, what the hell is Love Island? Well, in a nutshell, it’s Britain’s answer to the U.S.’s Bachelor In Paradise. The only difference is that the show airs every single night for three drama-packed months.

The new season of Love Island — which began one week ago — kicked off with the arrival of 11 strangers comprising six men and five women. The women arrive first and exchange hugs with their fellow contestants. Then, as the men arrive one-by-one, the ladies step forward when they see someone they like the look of.

Much like Bachelor in Paradise, the power alternates between the male and female contestants each week. Now, if that sentence….”

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Game of Thrones prequel series ordered from George RR Martin and Jane Goldman

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HBO has given a pilot order to a series set thousands of years before the hit show with Kick-Ass and Kingsman screenwriter Jane Goldman as showrunner

“HBO has given an official pilot order to their first Game of Thrones prequel series.

The as-yet-untitled show will be co-created by original author George RR Martin and Jane Goldman who will act as showrunner. Goldmans screenwriting credits include Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The series will be set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones and will chronicle the worlds descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. HBO has released the following logline: Only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend its not the story we think we know….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jun/08/game-of-thrones-prequel-series-ordered-from-george-rr-martin-and-jane-goldman

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Kenan Thompson explains why he ‘fears’ leaving ‘Saturday Night Live’

Charmaine Blake

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Kenan Thompson is afraid of what comes after Saturday Night Live for him, and we get it.

Image: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagi

“The length of Kenan Thompson’s tenure on Saturday Night Live has become a running joke on Saturday Night Live. And he knows it.

During Donald Glover’s recent monologue, Thompson acknowledged just how long it’s been since he first auditioned in 2003. After entering his 15th season in 2017, he became the longest-serving cast member, dethroning previous record holder Darrell Hammond.

The fact that he’s stayed on is impressive — but the consensus is that if you’re not leaving SNL, you probably don’t have anywhere better to go. Or something else is holding you back

In a Hollywood Reporter interview, Thompson explained….”

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/06/07/kenan-thompson-fears-leaving-snl/

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