Some Television watched in 2013

Black Mirror season 1 (2011)

Sci-fi/political satire anthology written by Charlie Brooker.
Of course I was gonna watch this.

101: “In a few minutes the Prime Minister will perform an indecent act on your screen.” Prankster kidnaps a British princess, demanding only that the prime minister have sex with a pig on live television. Sounds like the series is getting off to a ridiculous start, but with Charlie’s knowledge of media and politics, it’s a finely detailed story, with humor and tension in equal measure. PM Rory Kinnear was in the last couple of Bond movies.

102: Bing (Daniel Kaluuya of Kick-Ass 2) lives in a Pumzi world, spending his days stationary-bicycling to power whatever complex they all live inside, and his evenings bombarded by shit television, spending cycle-earned credits to skip ads and change channels. A cyclist girl likes him, but he falls for another (Jessica Findlay, Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey) and pays all his credits for her to get a shot on a singing competition show. After getting his dreams dashed by her treatment on the show (I did not realize Rupert Everett was one of the judges), Bing schemes to go back on the show himself, armed with a shard of glass from a shattered screen, speaking truth to the show’s viewers under threat of suicide. Bing is a hit and is offered his own show where he does this weekly, while back on the bike room people purchase “bing shard” to ornament their avatars.

103: Post-google-glass, people have a “grain” in their neck that records everything they see and hear all the time, and works as a DVR of their lives, which they can replay privately or stream onto a nearby TV. Toby Kebbell (in The East this year) is boring everyone by stressing over his latest work evaluation, while his wife (Jodie Whittaker, O’Toole’s crush in Venus, irritable white woman in Attack the Block) is concealing an affair with Tom Cullen (Lady Mary’s wide-mouthed love interest at the start of Downton season 4). Jealousy, threats and much creepy in-eye playback follows.

Paranoia Agent (2004, Satoshi Kon)

A supernatural mystery story that branches and builds, then goes bloody insane for a while, then starts to fall apart, then is revealed to have been one massive hallucination, the first “victim” of Shounen Bat having created him psychosomatically. It’s more complicated than that, though – there’s a whole episode about neighborhood women making up Shounen Bat stories they “heard”, a behind-the-scenes episode about a doomed cartoon series, an internet suicide club, a video game-fantasy cop, not one but two mysterious/magic elderly people, and a city-devouring black blob.

Look Around You season 2 (2005)

The fake-science show steps up its game for the second season. Wasn’t sure I liked the changes at first, but the episodes are less isolated here, building to a fantastic conclusion. Always nice to see Nick Frost and Mark Heap as well.

Special appearance by Tchaikovsky:

Orson Welles’ Sketch Book (1955)

Orson does a quick sketch, then tells a story for fifteen minutes or so, illustrating as needed. This used to be all that was needed for a TV program. Long intro about props and sketches, then stories of his beginnings in theater. In the second one he discusses a Boston performance gone bad, then “the negro Macbeth,” during which a racist critic was killed by a voodoo curse. In #3 Orson claims to have helped bring a brutal cop to justice after hearing the story of his beating a soldier into blindness. He continues on the topics of passports and authority into a great ending. #4 tells a comic story about Charles Lederer, then Houdini and magic tricks and John Barrymore. #5 is about how he scared everyone with his War of the Worlds broadcast, and #6 is a great bullfighting story.

At this point Katy and I are still in the middle of Dollhouse 2, Downton 4 and Sports Night 2, and I’ve started some Important Things and Futurama episodes and a miniseries on silent films called Hollywood. Chances of finishing any of these soon are looking slim.