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11 February 2013

TV Critics: Black Mirror; Penguins – Spy in the Huddle; Food and Drink; Lewis

“A touching exploration of grief…the best thing Brooker has done.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

 “Black Mirror shows the imperfections of creating your dead husband based on his social media interactions. The strength of Be Right Back [last night’s episode] were many. Its silences, as the script and its star Hayley Atwell often used absolutely no words to show the fear and near hysteria of grief. And its horrible plausibility – shown a day after news that a defence company has made software to predict a person’s future through their online activity.”
Alex Hardy, The Times

“This was a futuristic version of The Monkey’s Paw, that terrible short story about the dangers of getting what you wish for. Oddly, though, it was a tender, more wistful account of the fable, neither of those adjectives you would have associated with Charlie Brooker even a few years ago. His writing has changed since he became a husband and a father, but it’s a thickening not a softening. I think, admitting feelings far more complicated than rage and exasperation.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

 “This Black Mirror feels less like the usual Brookerian nightmarish video game dystopia, and more like 2019. It’s also less satirical and acerbic than some of his previous television; not just a technology-obsessed sarcastic under-whelmist’s bleak view of the future.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

 “The show touched on important ideas – the false way we sometimes present ourselves online, and our growing addiction to virtual lives – but it was also a touching exploration of grief. To my mind it’s the best thing Brooker has done.”
Sameer Rahim, The Telegraph


“Cameras hidden inside fake rocks are a mainstay of this nature series alongside various dummy penguin-cams, affording us a uniquely intimate view of penguin society. I’d have switched off after 15 minutes on the mating habits of the crested grebe but penguins in some ways seem a lot closer to us. (I guess it’s their tuxedo outfits, their big bottoms and the way they form orderly queues on glaciers.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

“David Tennant’s narration is infuriating, full of anthropomorphism and puns, “feather-ruffling” and “here come the girls”. It’s like having a bedtime story read to you. And then the music – comedy plinky-plonky rockhopper music for the rockhoppers, soaring strings for the emperors in the storm… stop it! I don’t need music, or David Tennant, telling me when something’s funny or sad or anything.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

 “Future historians studying the new version of this gastronomic magazine show will rightly think that we were living in very straitened times. Every feature in last night’s show, bright and engaging as it was, had ‘skint’ stamped through it like a stick of seaside rock. There are programmes that transport us, make us forget our daily woes and focus on the lovelier possibilities beyond. This is not one of them.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

“Television occasionally stages its own unwise resurrection, Food and Drink has just returned from the vault, for example, and what a zombie of a programme it is, vaguely reminiscent of the original but without a spark of life.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent


“Lewis was perfect detective fare: you barely had time to make a cup of tea before the next body turned up, and it always made Oxford look enchanting. The banter between the detective duo was as comforting as a warm bath and the cameo performances (here, Edward Fox as a deliciously uptight master) were always excellent. The recent decision to split the mystery into two hour-long episodes, broadcast a week apart, also meant you didn’t have to give up your entire evening.”
Sameer Rahim, The Telegraph


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