Black Mirror: White Christmas begins with Matt Trent (Jon Hamm, below) relating three stories to Joe (Rafe Spall, bottom pic) while Matt makes Christmas dinner, and Joe drinks himself into an early night.
The first sees Matt advising people what to wear for going out – as he describes, “helping dorks trawl the single bars”, picking up women, while he goes through social media sites on the fly to help them get the most out of the evening, by knowing the names of people in a works do, for example. Meanwhile, Matt is streaming this online, which the ‘dork’ doesn’t know about.
Then Harry (Rasmus Hardiker) was invited back to Jennifer’s (Natalia Tena) flat for a bit of “how’s your father”, but since he was chatting her up by pretending he had voices in his head telling you to do one thing while other voices said the opposite, Jennifer, instead, only understood this because she was suffering a condition of some sort and decided it was time to put out the voices in her own head by topping herself, but with Harry going first…
Then, after a row, Matt’s wife ‘blocks’ him, like on Facebook but doing it in real life – which is a bizarre concept as you just see an anonymous outline of a shape in front of you which you can’t communicate with either way – and then, off-screen, we learn she leaves him.
Elsewhere, Greta (Oona Chaplin, above-right, between Hamm and Spall) finds a copy has been made of her mind – known as a cookie – and stored inside what looks like an air-freshener-shaped box, from which she’s able to control the real her, and finally, Joe has his own tale to tell about him and his then-girlfriend Beth (Janet Montgomery), who wants to abort the baby they’re having. She blocked him, and as the story went on, Beth didn’t just go on to have the baby but thanks to an altercation in the street, the block became a ‘legal block’ which is like a restraining order, and it also covers offspring so the child. It was quite heartbreaking in the end, and turned out to be the most interesting of the programme, except that it was never explained what led to the death of the child, nor why.
Black Mirror: White Christmas played out rather like Tales From The Crypt, and this mix of three stories worked better for me than seeing individual tales, and left you with elements of the show going through your mind to ponder upon afterwards.
It’d be interesting to block people in real life that way. Some people on Facebook have blocked me and I’ve had to block them, but what happens if you’re in the same room as a number of these people, say, on a night out? Well, ultimately, Charlie Brooker went one further than that and following on from the first story in this programme, his lead protagonist ended up being permanently blocked to everyone in the world – forever – for his part in not reporting Harry’s murder.
And then, as Joe was stuck in his own personal ‘Room 101’ at the end, and Wizzard‘s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day rang out, the impact of this was killed by having a continuity interruption over the top of it. Classy, Channel 4(!)
I’ve complained to Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries, but they really are completely and utterly useless. They’ll reply, attempting to justify why artistic integrity no longer matters, and how it’s far more important to start plugging all their other shows before the current one has even ended. It’s like having a waiter taking your desert order while you’re still eating your main course!
I hate continuity announcers at the best of times. And yes, Channel 4, we know the girl with Tourettes is saying “biscuit” instead of a swear word. We got it first time round and it’s still not ‘edgy’ or ‘born risky’ (as you claim) or even the slightest bit interesting.
Director: Carl Tibbetts
Producer: Barney Reisz
Screenplay: Charlie Brooker
Music: Jon Opstad
Matt Trent: Jon Hamm
Joe Potter: Rafe Spall
Greta: Oona Chaplin
Jennifer: Natalia Tena
Bethany: Janet Montgomery
Harry: Rasmus Hardiker
Gita: Zahra Ahmadi
Holder: Robin Weaver
Tim: Dan Li
Amy: Verity Marshall
Gordon: Ken Drury
Dawson: Ian Keir Attard
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.