There will be more “variety of tone” to look forward to when Black Mirror returns, premiering for the first time on Netflix for its third season on October 21. The season will be split into two parts, with six episodes coming out in October, and six more likely releasing sometime next year, creator and executive producer Charlie Brooker promised at a press conference at the Television Critics Association in Beverly Hills on Wednesday. “Hopefully,” he added, the series will maintain that “unpleasantness the show seems to have become known for.”
But the new season is not a “bleakfest,” said executive producer Annabel Jones, and the episodes are of varying lengths, including a 90-minute installment. “I think within this series of six, there are a few stories that are maybe much more playful. Challenging, but playful or sarcastic.” The stories include: a police procedural, a romance, a thriller, a “horror romp,” and a military tale. “They’re not retribution pieces,” Jones added. “I think we’re trying to dramatize very contemporary concerns. In our current climate, and with the technological advancement in the last few decades, we’re in a sort of place that feels very new and alien, and we’re evolving as a species, and we don’t quite know how or what the ramifications are yet. So a lot of the stories have that at their heart, a general unease that we haven’t yet explored or come to terms with.”
The third season of the dystopian anthology series will also feature some big names both in front of and behind the camera. Each episode is a standalone story featuring a different cast, different directors and depicting different worlds, Brooker said.
“San Junipero” stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis in an ‘80s-centered episode directed by Owen Harris. Wyatt Russell and Hannah John-Kamen star in “Playtest,” an episode directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane). “Nosedive” features Bryce Dallas Howard, Alice Eve, and James Norton in an episode about social anxiety directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement). Rashida Jones and Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) co-authored “Nosedive” because they were big fans of the show. Brooker called the episode “a social satire about identity in the social-media age. It’s kind of like a cheerful pastel nightmare, that story.” He added that “technology is never the villain in this show. It’s always about human failings and human messes, basically, that technology has helped facilitate.”
Now that the show’s releasing first on Netflix, the producers recommend pausing before bingeing. “I love binge-watching,” Brooker said. “I kind of feel people can devour them in whatever capacity they feel like. I guess because we don’t have an ongoing story arc and we don’t have cliffhangers — you come to a definite end at the end of each story — you kind of want a few moments of reflection at least before pressing on.”