Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment

The final part of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror series 2 aired last night, titled The Waldo Moment. I'll get this dash of negativity straight out of the way first of all by saying nothing could touch last week's episode White Bear which was possibly the best bit of TV I've seen since This is England 88. But The Waldo Moment was still smart satire; occasionally chilling, always clever but never quite hitting the highs of the previous two episodes of this series.

The Waldo Moment is all about a computer generated character voiced by a down on his luck comedian who finds that taunting and teasing politicians is the best way to grab attention. The character Waldo quickly becomes popular and the team behind him decide to put him in the running for the election. His knob gags, foul mouth and crude humour win the attention of the public and his putting down of the politicians makes him a refreshing alternative to their manipulative fakery.

I noticed in the credits of the episode that this one was based on an original idea by Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker from when they were working on Nathan Barley. I never saw that show but love a lot of Chris Morris' old stuff like The Day Today and Brass Eye. Nathan Barley was on TV in 2005 and what immediately struck me about Waldo was that he was based on Sacha Baron Cohen's character Ali G from the 11 o Clock Show and his own later TV series.

The tackling of politicians with ignorance and silly humour, the idea that the character would not work if he was given his own show and guests knew what to expect of him, the comedian hiding behind a character and satire to attack politicians but without suggesting alternatives all struck me as an attack on Ali G. I personally loved Ali G and found his early interviews for the 11 o Clock show some of the funniest television I'd ever seen. It did all go down hill when he was given his own show and the guests were in on the joke from the start. Sacha Baron Cohen could also always be accused of hiding behind his characters and causing apathy by humiliating everyone from feminists, to Tories to foxhunters to hippies. No target is safe from his satire and its easy for hime to take the piss mercilessly out of any of them.

The Waldo Moment seems to suggest that the public are stupid and easily led enough to allow someone like Waldo or Ali G with no policies, no party allegiance and no clue to run our country. It shows how an icon can be manipulated by darker forces back stage who want to gain power and it shows how if people cannot trust politicians then they might just turn to the more entertaining and seemingly truthful option, even if he is just a silly big blue bear who keeps getting his computer generated cock out. All this might of course have absolutely nothing to do with Ali G and I might be completely wrong.

The ending was a bit too abrupt for my liking and went a bit far in its depiction of a disturbing dystopian future. Its warning seemed a bit too far fetched (I hope) and revealed Brooker's complete lack of faith in humanity.

I must add all the scenes on the high street were filmed in my home town of High Wycombe and I actually remember running past as they were filming one day. I wish I hadn't been in such a rush and had stopped to check it out now! The Waldo wagon had drew a little crowd and people certainly had been drawn to the big blue bear so perhaps Brooker's vision isn't so far fecthed!

The Waldo Moment may have been the worst episode in the series but it's still better than most TV and plenty thought provoking. If you haven't seen the second episode of this series, titled White Bear, go find it now! You can still watch it on 4oD right here for the nxt 20 days or so. The first season is also all brilliant and I recommend you watch it before Hollywood starts its production of remaking them! I hope they give Black Mirror a third series.

Did you see it? What did you think?