Since it debuted in its native England in 2011, the anthology sci-fi series Black Mirror has been spoken of in hushed, reverent tones on this side of the Atlantic, with folks hailing it as a modern-day Twilight Zone. Part of the reason the show inflamed the imaginations of American viewers was its relative scarcity; because it wasn't available via the usual avenues for British imports (PBS or BBC America), finding a way to watch it — either legally (via imported DVDs, for instance) or less than legally (through a method that rhymes with "abhorrent") — was part of the fun. At long last, those days of TV espionage are over: All six episodes of Black Mirror are now streaming on Netflix, and once you start streaming it, you won't want to stop.
Well, OK, that might be a bit of an overstatement. Fact is, the first episode of Black Mirror isn't the series at its best. Created by Charlie Brooker (who also wrote the premiere), the show is dedicated to exploring mankind's increasingly fraught relationship with technology and how the gadgets and apps we invent take us at least one step back for every two steps forward. The first episode, for example, depicts the social media circus that erupts when a kidnapper nabs a popular member of England's royal family and informs the world via YouTube video that he'll return her only if the prime minister commits an unspeakable act with a pig on live television. Nothing less than an attempt to create an Internet-centric version of the classic '70s media satire Network, this episode suffers from being too clunky and straightforward in its commentary.
But things steadily improve with the second episode — set in a fascinating near-future in which reality TV is the number one industry — and really blast off with the third installment, "The Entire History of You," in which humans have been implanted with a chip that allows them to record and rewind their memories. (It's no surprise that Hollywood is planning a feature film remake of this ingenious premise, with Robert Downey Jr. currently slated to star.)
The anthology nature of Black Mirror means that a scenario never gets old or wears out its welcome; each episode offers up a new story and new cast members — many of whom will be familiar faces to anyone who watches shows like Downton Abbey or Dr. Who. And Brooker has more Black Mirror episodes planned beyond this initial six; a Christmas special starring Jon Hamm will premiere on British television on Dec. 16, followed by another season in 2016. No word as of yet on when we'll get those episodes stateside, but now that Netflix is providing an official portal through the looking glass, there's no way it could close the series prematurely.
Watch the Black Mirror trailer:
All six episodes of Black Mirror are currently available to stream on Netflix. And if you want to see vintage installments of its forebear, The Twilight Zone, head over to Hulu Plus.