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Black Mirror - Now on Netflix (maybe mild spoilers)


#102

Spoilers in the link:


#103

I spent about 1.5 hours on it with a couple resets to a previous point. I got to two endings.

I thought it was okay. Some story directions are pretty cliche. Now that I have some familiarity with it, I might do it again but that will probably be it.


#104

I wonder if I’ve maybe been spoiled by playing the previous choose-your-own-adventure Netflix series with the kids over the past few weeks. It was always going to be hard for Black Mirror to match up to Minecraft and Puss In Boots. :slight_smile:

(More seriously, it might actually be that the novelty factor wasn’t there so much for me, for that reason. Although Black Mirror’s branching structure is a lot more complicated than the one used by the those interactive shows for kids.)


#105

I thought it was ok, but was not mind blown.

Minecraft might be the best choose your own adventure on Netflix.


#106

This is a shame to read.

I thought he was the best thing about the episode.


#107

If you want to read the most hilariously gushing and overpraising review of Bandersnatch that you’re ever likely to read, then look no further.

Overstating it a tiny bit, I think.


#108

If the most overpraising review is only going to give it four stars then I’m feeling content for not watching it at all.


#109

She still only gave it 4 stars. :smile:

My take is it is extremely clever, there’s the technical aspect and the layers of commentary on the choices in the format and the story. It is also, like the Choose Your Own Adventure books back in the day if I’m honest, a little frustrating as an experience. Although I found that happened later, in the original CYOA books I remember you’d make 2 choices and be eaten by a crocodile and have to start again.

I was impressed more than delighted and am fine with it being a one-off that works for that story. I think it wouldn’t work as well without the meta-commentary and you can’t keep pulling that off repeatedly (apologies to Grant Morrison).


#110

You can fast-forward those scenes by pressing the -> on your controller. This brings up commands on the screen and you can press over and then hit enter. It doesn’t skip the whole scene but jumps ten seconds ahead. It’s a bit faster.

EDIT: Never mind! Should’ve read the entire thread before replying. D’oh!


#111

That really is a shame. He was great.

I couldn’t imagine getting that much attention online. It would be difficult to deal with day after day.


#112

To be fair it may not be that dramatic. I think a lot of people question the value of things like Twitter in their lives. People I like and do well just don’t bother with it.


#113

#114

This was fun and really cleverly done and I love that the it’s meta about the format on two different levels, but…

on the other hand, I do have to say it took me out of the story from a certain point on. I mean, there was not really a story from a certain point on, was there? The branch about PACs is ultra-paranoid, but doesn’t really lead to a satisfying conclusion (that I got to see, at least) - why are they doing this? What is the plan? And the meta idea of Stefan being aware that he’s being controlled by us, that doesn’t really go anywhere, either. And the most satisfying ending, the one where Stefan breaks the circle by changing the past and getting the rabbit and then gets to be on the train… that one feels unfulfilling now because it doesn’t wrap up all the other stuff, the game and all that.

So on the one hand I’m getting the feeling that the story would’ve been more satisfying if this had been a conventional episode of Black Mirror. On the other, it’s been a very different experience and one that’s worth exploring, so I’m glad it was what it was.


#115

Yeah, the story falls apart halfway through (seemingly whichever route you take), which is a shame because up until that point it’s quite engaging and clever.

It feels like they went all-in on making the choice aspect and the technology the centrepiece of what they were trying to show off, and having the story increasingly only exist to serve that function. I think I would have preferred it if they went the other way, if they were a bit more subtle about the choice aspect but used it to serve a more elegant and satisfying story.

That said, it’s a worthwhile pursuit to innovate with new technology like this (well, new to Netflix - what they’re doing is only a basic form of something that video games have been doing for a long time now), and maybe it will pave the way for something that feels more complete and satisfying in future.


#116

Yeah, that summarises it well.

It might work well even in a far simpler form. Just two or four or sixteen variations of a story, depending on two choices you make. There’s a film, Smoking/Non-Smoking (based on a play by Alan Ayckbourn) where there are two variations on the story and the point of difference is a characters deciding to sit in the smoking or in the non-smoking section.

Uh, or something like that? It’s been a very long time since I saw it, by I always liked the idea of a different variation of a story spinning of one point of decision. The movie “Sliding Doors” also did that thing, didn’t it?

Anyway, that feels like a possibility that could be explored and a natural theme for this format - telling a limited number of stories that demonstrate how arbitrary life is and how everything depends on seemingly random decisions we make.


#117

Yes, I hadn’t made the connection but it is quite ‘sliding doors’ isn’t it?

I guess the key point of difference is that you are actively shaping the narrative here. You’re choosing what directions the story goes in: and that not only means that you see certain story strands play out, but also that you don’t see certain others. (Like I said earlier, despite going round in circles as much as Netflix would allow, I never saw the ‘good’ ending with Stefan’s daughter in the future.)

Something like Sliding Doors is still linear in the sense that it’s still in the filmmaker’s control to show you what they want you to see, in the order they want you to see it, and they (and you) can be sure that you will have seen everything by the end - even when the subject-matter of branching realities is fairly similar. Arguably, you can create a more effective drama by comparing and contrasting the choices artfully like that movie did.

Bandersnatch is more like a crude version of a videogame, in that you do have a certain amount of choice that shapes the story, but the nature of your interaction is fairly limited and puts you ‘on rails’ until the next time you get to make a choice.

In that sense, the author is still controlling things to a large extent - offering you choice and input only when they decide to do so - but you get a sufficient illusion of choice to make it feel like an interactive experience, just like the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. (And I think Bandersnatch acknowledges this illusion and has some fun with it.)

Open-world videogames are probably the most truly interactive and user-driven experience we have for entertainment, but I actually think the limitations are part of the fun of branching adventures like the CYOA books and Bandersnatch: you only get to have input at certain moments, and you can’t always predict what the consequence of your choice will be (Bandersnatch plays on this at the early point where you get to choose whether to work for the videogame company, and the ‘right’ choice sends you to an early ‘bad’ ending).

In the end, I still think I prefer CYOA-style stories in book form, largely for the freedom to flick back and forth through the pages and see the alternate paths in a way that’s much easier than Netflix’s interface (you can be sure you’ve seen everything a CYOA book has to offer in a way that isn’t true for Bandersnatch), but I still think this was a bold if ultimately flawed experiment.


#118

And for a bit of balance - here’s the most ridiculous critique of Bandersnatch that I’ve read so far, slagging it off at the same time as insisting that he’ll never watch it.

https://inews.co.uk/opinion/i-will-never-watch-bandersnatch-tv-should-not-be-interactive/


#119

I think that is a fairly accurate assessment. This is definitely an early Beta of the concept.

While I don’t think it is the future of television, I can see it being done again by someone. Hopefully, they will look at what worked and what didn’t and craft a better product.

As to Bandersnatch, I will probably play it again and that will most likely be it. I am not the obsessive type that has to see everything. Now that I have experienced it once and have an idea what to expect, I want to take another run through.


#120

From Warren Ellis’ latest Orbital Operations:

True story: I was asked to play the role of the mysterious author Jerome F Davies in BLACK MIRROR: BANDERSNATCH. They asked me in late March 2018, for an early April shoot. Three days, and one of the days had not yet been specified. Six hours’ train travel a day to get to the location and back. And I was just too busy with my own show (named the best animated series of 2018 by IGN, and also nominated in their shortlist for best overall television series of the year, thank you IGN) to burn three days, with the possibility that the floating day (the actual filming day) would be one I couldn’t do. Still very grateful to have been asked.

So, hey, I was almost “that thing you have to look up on a wikipedia page.”


#121

I watched Bandersnatch yesterday and did get to the end credits. I won’t be doing this again. It honestly gets more tedious when you do it again.

It’s an interesting novelty to be sure but that novelty fades pretty quickly.