When CBS All Access unveiled its new version of The Twilight Zone earlier this year, the general consensus was that the initial episodes in the new series had fallen short of Rod Serling's original version. Not only were they unworthy of The Twilight Zone of old, but they also weren't nearly as good, or as smart, as a show that had begun in England in 2011, Black Mirror.
Watching Black Mirror's three brand-new installments on Netflix makes it clear that the series, in our current TV universe, claims and holds the fantasy anthology series crown. Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones head the team behind this show, which uses the technology of today—and the possible technology of tomorrow—to frame, inform or drive its stories.
Brooker wrote all three of these new episodes, and their scope is as wide as their impact is deep. One story is about a pop star whose personality is marketed in an Alexa-style computer figurine. Another is about a driver for an Uber-type company who blames a social media company for his personal tragedy. And a third—the most haunting and daring of the three—is about two buddies who try out a new, virtual reality version of a favorite hand-to-hand combat video game they played some 10 years earlier.
The video game episode is titled "Striking Vipers," after the new VR game, and it's my favorite of the three, because I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I was pretty sure I knew where this episode was going once the two characters dove into their game, but I was so wrong—and the larger questions that began being posed were so challenging—that I ended up being as blown away by the ideas as by the truly dazzling special effects.