Black Mirror: Series 2 review

Charlie Brooker's satirical anthology show returns to DVD with three more twisted tales

This second series of Charlie Brooker's techno-Twilight Zone isn't quite as strong as the first, but still makes for thought-provoking TV.

The first two stories (Be Right Back and White Bear) are both genuinely complex and mature pieces of drama – the first a haunting and heartfelt exploration of grief with a standout central performance from Hayley Atwell, while second is a truly harrowing account of the lengths society may one day go to in order to find pleasure in the punishment of those that we despise.

Only the final tale (The Waldo Moment) struggles to find anything fresh to say or be particularly believable in dramatic terms. The story of a cartoon bear running in a by-election it sprang out of an unused idea Brooker and Chris Morris originally cooked up for Nathan Barley and ultimately feels like a gag stretched well beyond breaking point.

Picture: Sadly, there's no Blu-ray release on the cards at the moment – which is especially disappointing as many fans will have already seen the show in hi-def during its original Channel 4 HD broadcast, but will now have to make do with owning it in standard-def (unless they’ve kept their original off-air HD recordings).

As it is, the DVD itself is a pretty modest affair. The anamorphic transfers (2:1 for Be Right Back, 1.78:1 for the other two) are fairly attractive, although the washed-out colours and muted contrast evident in the first story appears to push the encoding pretty hard, resulting in occasional artefacting and crushed blacks. The other two episodes fair a bit better, with White Bear providing some better-than-expected detailing, while The Waldo Moment's bolder colour palette delivers some pleasingly rendered primaries.
Picture rating: 3.5/5

Audio: All three episodes feature pretty limited Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks. Dialogue is excellently rendered throughout, which was obviously the biggest concern for all involved. However, there’s very little in the way of positional effects across the stereo spread – and it’s hard not to see that White Bear in particular would have really benefit from a more enveloping 5.1-channel treatment.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: The sole extra included on this DVD release is an 11-minute Q&A that followed a BFI screening of Be Right Back, hosted by journalist Matthew Sweet and featuring Charlie Brooker, Hayley Atwell, executive producer Annabel Jones and director Owen Harris. However, not only is the Q&A far too short to go into any real depth about the production or the themes the episode tackles, it’s also been available to watch on YouTube since the middle of February!
Extras rating: 1/5

We say: A rather middling second DVD volume for Charlie Brooker’s provocative anthology show.

4DVD, R2 DVD, £20 Approx