While fans of various shows may quibble over what’s truly the scariest thing on TV, there’s one program that needs to be a big part of that conversation. “Black Mirror” airs on Channel 4 in the U.K. and is one of the most disturbing things you’ll ever lay eyes on.
Whereas shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Hannibal” find a lot of their terror in graphic imagery — zombies, blood and cannibals — “Black Mirror” relies on technology to be the monster wreaking havoc on the world. When the obsession with computers and constantly being “connected” to everyone else goes too far, how bad can humanity really get? Each episode of the anthology features a unique cast and plot, exploring the ways technology could go incredibly wrong — none of them end up like “The Terminator.”
“The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone,” creator Charlie Brooker explains to The Guardian.
To celebrate the 2014 Christmas special, Zap2it is breaking down each of the six existing episodes of “Black Mirror,” including GIFs from each. While some of the imagery might not strike you as all that scary, they are indeed among the saddest and most horrifying moments of each episode. If you want to see what makes them so terrifying, both three-episode seasons of “Black Mirror” are available on Netflix and well worth your time.
The feature-length Christmas special — starring Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) and Oona Chaplin (“Game of Thrones”) — premieres Tuesday, Dec. 15 on Channel 4 in the U.K.
Season 1, episode 1: ‘The National Anthem’
Notable cast: Rory Kinnear (“Penny Dreadful”)
The prime minister faces a horrible dilemma when a member of the royal family is kidnapped and the only ransom demand is he have sex with a pig on live TV. When the demand goes viral via YouTube, the situation only gets worse.
Season 1, episode 2: ‘Fifteen Million Merits’
Notable cast: Daniel Kaluuya (“Skins”), Jessica Brown Findlay (“Downton Abbey”)
In a dystopian future, citizens are forced to earn currency — merits — by watching overly exualized advertisements and riding exercise bikes to help power the world. The only break comes in the form of game shows that do little more than mock and ruin others. Of course, as one man learns, breaking free of the destructive system — which resembles living inside the Nintendo Wii for some reason — could be even worse.
Season 1, episode 3: ‘The Entire History of You’
Notable cast: Tom Cullen (“Downton Abbey”)
What if every moment of your life was recorded and stored on a microchip implanted in your brain, allowing you to recall video at a moment’s notice and project it on screens? Your secrets definitely wouldn’t be safe.
Season 2, episode 1: ‘Be Right Back’
Notable cast: Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”)
When a woman loses the man she loves, she’ll do anything to get him back. That includes using a service that uses everything he’s ever posted on social media to resurrect him. Unfortunately, she has to come to terms with the fact that the re-creation isn’t the same, but it may be too late to fix that mistake.
Season 2, episode 2: ‘White Bear’
Notable cast: Lenora Crichlow (“A to Z”)
A woman wakes up with no memory of who she is after a failed suicide attempt. When she emerges from her room, the woman realizes she’s being hunted by a man with a shotgun, while the rest of the world ignores her and records what’s happening on their phones.
Season 3, episode 3: ‘The Waldo Moment’
Notable cast: Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”)
A failed comedian voices a cartoon bear that takes on the political establishment by humiliating a candidate for office and then running against him. In this world where entertainment and pop culture reign supreme, the cartoon bear becomes a serious contender — much to the comedian’s despair. The movement is out of his hands at that point, though.