Charlie Brooker, like his League of Gentlemen peers, has produced some deliciously twisted and imaginative tales in Black Mirror , a clever and often incredibly prescient manifestation of his love of the darker side of life with a dash of The Twilight Zone thrown in for good measure.
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So what of the future? It seems the "twist in the tale" format has plenty of life still as we currently await a reboot of Tales Of The Unexpected as reported by Den of Geek last November after a gap of over thirty years. Suggesting just five must-see episodes is no mean feat considering the sheer volume of great possibilities - these are my personal favourite five, all are available on a disc DVD box set and YouTube.
I am not trying to be definitive here, these are just a personal selection, please feel free to disagree and suggest your own or indeed praise my taste or lack of it! Peter Davison and Liza Goddard play two equally bashful guests at a hotel; both unbeknown to each other have been set up by a friend to spend the night with a potential partner, signalling their intentions by winking three times at a particular member of the hotel staff… Much confusion and swapping of beds ensues but the two eventually find each other.
Tales Of The Unexpected at 40: a precursor to Inside No. 9 and Black Mirror
The conclusion neatly suggests all isn't quite as it seems…. Timothy West and Susan George are a couple trying to improve the life of a baby who won't put on weight. West becomes so obsessed with the potential natural goodness provided by honey, he finds himself going through a gradual transformation - of ultimately horrifying proportions Derek Jacobi plays a flamboyant, theatrically dressed man who is enjoying his new surroundings, acting the clown and impressing young children with his larger than life personality.
The stranger has a secret which eventually catches up with him and he decides he must quickly move on. He transforms himself into a forgettable "average Joe", even removing the lifts in his shoes that made him appear taller. He slips away unnoticed by anyone - or so he thinks…. Susan George again and Brian Blessed star in, arguably, the most memorable episode of all. The fourth episode of the first series, Lamb To The Slaughter is a deftly played half hour.
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It answers the question of how one might commit the perfect crime and hide the evidence in a deliciously neat conclusion. I told them: I don't know what I've been doing in Los Angeles because this is what life is all about. This is acting. A genuinely unsettling episode with scary moments aplenty.
In his filmed introduction to the episode, Roald Dahl said of this fine tale by the writer Elizabeth Taylor: " It is so neat and nice and spooky, I only wish I'd thought of it myself. Botibol has such a great time in his concert hall that he decides to have a grand piano installed, but one that makes no noice. Then he can pretend to play concertos as well as conduct them. While he is buying piano records, a girl strikes up a conversation with him.
She loves Chopin, whose records Botibol has just bought. To his own surprise, he invites her to come listen to them.
When she arrives the next day, he shows her the concert hall and explains about his secret. They change into their fancy dress and have a lovely dinner with lots of wine. Then they went to the concert hall and gave the performance of their lives. Liverpool University Press.
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