Charlie Brooker is one of those UK wonders who hasn’t made the jump to American audiences yet, and that is a damn shame.
Wildly prolific, Brooker seems to produce about 600 hours of new television every year, shows like “How TV Ruined Your LIfe” and “Them From That Thing” and “10 O’Clock Live” and “Newswipe” and “Screenwipe” and the oh-so-fiendish “Dead Set,” and he’s the author of the blisteringly funny “Pedophilia” episode of the great “Brass Eye.” Brooker is an astute media critic as well as a wicked wit, and that’s a combination that I hoped would have made him much more famous on this side of the Atlantic as well.
He’s got a good shot with a deal that was announced today, at least in terms of establishing a beachhead. Robert Downey Jr. has optioned one of the episodes of “Black Mirror,” a show that Brooker created, and if it helps to get the original series (now in its second season) released here in the US, that would be tremendous. Each of the episodes of the anthology show deals with television as a social force, and Brooker really digs into the dark and horrible side of media consumption. The first episode, for example, “The National Anthem,” looks at the moral dilemma that is created when one of the Royal Family is kidnapped and one demand is made: the Prime Minister has to pork a pig on television to get her back. No negotiations. No half-measures. No time to come up with a CGI option. Pig. Sex. TV. Go.
The series also examines the way our future may revolve around our relationship with media we devour through screens, and the final episode of the first series was written by Jesse Armstrong. “The Entire History Of You” is about a guy who gets a chip implanted in his head that can record every single action he makes for playback. As more and more people life-blog every detail of their personal existence, the premise for this one becomes more and more potent, and Downey, along with his wife Susan Downey, will produce a feature version that Armstrong will also write. It sounds like the movie version will feature a much larger canvass for the story, a conspiracy that is uncovered by a man watching the recordings that were made by his now-dead wife.
I am a big fan of the original, and I am excited to see what happens with this one as it makes its way to the screen.