Death To 2020 is less a new Black Mirror-style special for Netflix, and more akin to a Screenwipe special, but on a much larger budget than you’d get from the BBC.
As such, those playing characters include Samuel L Jackson as New Yorkerly News reporter Dash Bracket (but, essentially, just playing himself); Hugh Grant (The Undoing) as Professor of History Tennyson Foss; Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) as powerbroker and CEO of the company Shreekr, Bark Multiverse; Tracey Ullman as “Queen Elizabeth Part Two”; Samson Kayo as scientist Pyrex Flask. Mostly, everyone’s nicely sending themselves up, but we still get Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk, but that’s a rather tired character that Charlie Brooker can’t seem to rest. Okay, here, she’s labelled as Gemma Nerrick, but it’s still the same character. Plus, Laurence Fishburne plays as the emphatic Narrator, aiming to sound a bit like the late, great ’80s movie trailer supremo, Don La Fontaine.
Examples of the humour include SLJ recounting how, back in January, “at Davos, where people pretend to care about climate change, Greta Thunberg is a teenager who’s become famous for saying things that are depressing… like Billie Eilish“, and Kumail Nanjiani observing of her, “Usually when a child is shouting for help, it’s best to ignore them in case it’s a trap. No less a man than Jeffrey Epstein told me that“. And there was me thinking I Am Greta was meant to be a serious documentary…
Later, the COVID19 virus is described as a “revolving alien basketball, rendered on a Playstation 2″, as it is similar to that console’s home screen.
They’re all asked questions, offscreen, by Charlie Brooker (credited in the subtitles as the director, but should really be classed as the interviewer, same as Chris Langham was the offscreen interviewer Roy Mallard, in BBC2’s People Like Us). In fact when Samson Kayo says that of all the viruses he’s dealt with, COVID19 is definitely “the most recent“, that’s exactly the kind of thing you’d get in that programme.
Death To 2020 is full of anti-Trump sentiment because that’s the way the media is these days, although it does at least take the piss out of Joe Biden as well, sometimes.
Not all the jokes hit home, but it’s still a step-up from Brookers’s Anti-Viral Wipe on BBC2, earlier this year.
Death To 2020 wasn’t available for preview, so, knowing it was coming out today, I leapt out of bed on this cold Sunday morning, early, to watch it… or did I just surface early because I’m getting old, and you basically wake up in the middle of the night because… reasons?
Death To 2020 is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix now.
Directors: Al Campbell, Alice Mathias
Producer: Charlie Brooker
Creators: Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones
Writers: Charlie Brooker, Tom Baker, Kemah Bob, Ken Bordell, Munya Chawawa, Constance Cheng, Alan Connor, Erika Ehler, Charlie George, Eli Goldstone, Mollie Goodfellow, Jason Hazeley, Angelo Irving, Kae Kurd, Ali Marlow, Thanyia Moore, Joel Morris, Michael Odewale
Tennyson Foss: Hugh Grant
Dash Bracket: Samuel L Jackson
Narrator: Laurence Fishburne
Bark Multiverse: Kumail Nanjiani
Queen Elizabeth Part Two: Tracey Ullman
Jeanetta Grace Susan: Lisa Kudrow
Gemma Nerrick: Diane Morgan
Pyrex Flask: Samson Kayo
Kathy Flowers: Cristin Milioti
Duke Goolies: Joe Keery
Dr Maggie Gravel: Leslie Jones
Boris Johnson: Angelo Irving
Amy: Lily Sullivan
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.