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Is newer better when it comes to Sci-Fi television?

BY Tristan Tanner, Visuals Staff

Cover for the hit TV series "Black Mirror" photo cortousey of flickr

      The 60s were a very long time ago, but many aspects of 60s culture are still relevant today. Science fiction television took off in popularity during the 60s, with shows such as the Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Lost In Space, The Outer Limits, and many more. Some of these shows still exist today, while others have inspired newer writers to follow in their footsteps. But do these old shows still hold up today, or have their spiritual descendants done better?

       The Twilight Zone is a science fiction TV show from the 1960s. The Twilight Zone is no longer on the air, but many shows inspired by this classic series exist to this day. The show is an anthology series, each episode tells its own self-contained story.

      One such show is Black Mirror, a Netflix anthology series with stories relating to technology and its impact on society. It has episodes tackling virtual reality, the role of brainwashing in the military, and the creation of androids.

      A subject that is frequently touched upon in both Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone is the hypothetical future, and how society may look like in the future. Two comparable episodes are the classic Twilight Zone episode The Obsolete Man, and the Black Mirror episode Nosedive.

       In The Obsolete Man, a librarian is put on trial by the state for the crime of being unnecessary. In the future portrayed in this episode, books are banned, particularly the bible, as they spread alleged falsehoods and lies against the government. Obsolete Man plays into the fears of censorship and totalitarianism, particularly fascism and soviet-style communism.

      As storytelling goes, The Obsolete Man has trouble being relevant in this era of freer information, and the effects and costumes can be somewhat laughable. The writing however, and the acting ability of the episode’s cast, hold up today.

       While Black Mirror’s Nosedive also is set in a dystopian future, it plays on fears of a completely different nature, that of the judgement of the masses. In Nosedive’s future, personal interactions are rated from a scale of one to five, and those below certain average ratings are deprived of rights. In this universe, popularity is everything, and there are even consultants one can hire to help gain higher ratings. The plot follows a woman’s desperate attempt to rise in status by giving a speech at her best friend’s wedding, and her fall from grace as her plans collapse around her.

      Unlike many shows of today, Black Mirror continues to have intelligent and thought provoking plots and writing, with deep messages and interesting acting. Both The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror are excellent series, and I heartily recommend them.