One of my all time favorite shows is The Twilight Zone, it's odd, unique, perhaps a bit outdated, but smarter than a majority of tv ever has been. I bring this up because, my latest review, is that of Black Mirror, specifically the first episode The National Anthem, which feels like a modern take on The Twilight Zone, and from what I'm told that's not coincidental, this takes inspiration from that.
As far as shows go, this is among the smartest I've seen in recent years, going by this episode alone of course. I admit, I don't watch as many shows anymore, in fact it's rare that I even watch a show consistently, there's a number of reasons, but for now I'd like to just say, I prefer movies, which aren't restrained by time limits, censors, or needing to create a certain amount of material (episodes) to tell it's story. I like Black Mirror, because it does something rarely seen in television, especially these days, it told a complete story, with consequences, without a need to continue it on for another episode. It's an individual story, which may not seem interesting to those interested in a regular cast, but the advantage there is that it allows for filmmakers to create stories, without a worry about how to continue it if something happens that completely ruins any kind of status quo. This form of TV storytelling isn't perfect, but it allows for intellectual stories, without a fear of holding back.
As for a greater point, something that gives this more weight, yes, Black Mirror provides that. Without giving much away, the message this makes involves the media, and how attention to it can take your attention away from the reality around you, which feels all the more relevant this year, where politics seem to be muddled by the media. It's chilling, more so knowing we do exist in a world like the one presented here. The extra weight in the underlying message is why I feel this is intelligent work, we aren't just seeing a show making up a scenario, we're seeing a show practically warning us of what can happen if we focus on the sensational, rather than the truth around us.
As far as first episodes go, The National Anthem is brilliant, a genius work of entertainment that has me curious for more from Black Mirror. I'd say I wonder if this show can remain as smart, but hearing the comments made about the show has me excited to see the rest, as well as review the rest, I highly recommend this.
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Written by Octaviano Macias