I’ve been trawling the back catalogues of Channel 4 recently, and in amongst a lot of dross there are some real gems. One of the best drama series ever is Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’. In three very short series, these self-contained dramas explore scenarios from a near-future society. And possibly the best of the bunch is ‘White Christmas’.
In this society technology has advanced to the point where someone who annoys you can be ‘blocked’ so that you can’t hear them or see them apart from a fuzzy white outline; they also can’t hear or see you or contact you in any way. Human beings can also extract a part of themselves (an egg-shaped ‘cookie’) which can perform tasks for them. One woman has a cookie extracted to be her personal organiser. The problem is that the cookie has a separate consciousness and believes itself to be the original person. It reminded me in a way of Voldemort splitting his soul. A further twist is given to the punishment by the altering of time: while the controller sits and eats a piece of toast the cookie’s clock is set to six months; at the end of which she is begging to be given something to do, and so undertakes the work she was created for.
In the other story two men are stuck in a kitchen: outside it’s always winter and inside it’s always Christmas. Gradually we learn their stories which brought them here; gradually one attains ascendance over the other. Just like in ‘1984’, one is there to extract a confession from the other and hence obtain remission for his own crimes.
At the end the first man is set free, but at a price: while the staff go on holiday the other man’s cookie is set to a thousand years a second. This reminded me of James Joyce’s hell (see recent post:
Go watch. It’s on 4 OD