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'Black Mirror' series two 'The Waldo Moment' review

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Black Mirror's series two opener 'Be Right Back' was a compelling mix of light and dark, while last week's 'White Bear' was unremittingly bleak. But with series closer 'The Waldo Moment' being billed as a political satire of sorts, I'd expected a drama infused with moments of dark humour - something akin to series one's brilliant 'The National Anthem'.

Anyone who's seen that memorable episode or indeed an edition of Newswipe knows that Charlie Brooker can be brilliantly scathing about politics, but unfortunately 'The Waldo Moment' fell short of my expectations.

'Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment'

© Channel 4

Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby)



The film follows Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby), a failed comic in low spirits - his personal life is in tatters and his job - voicing a cartoon bear named Waldo on a political satire series - is deeply unsatisfying.

Waldo's latest target is Tory politician Liam Monroe - brought to slippery life by Tobias Menzies - but what starts out as a humorous campaign ultimately takes a dark and unexpected turn…

'Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment'

© Channel 4

Liam Monroe (Tobias Menzies) and aide.



For much of its run-time, 'Waldo Moment' isn't so much satirising politics as picking holes in satire itself - or at least, uninformed immaturity masquerading as satire. Production company boss Jack Napier (Jason Flemyng) is a buffoonish figure - spouting tired lines about "punk" politician-baiting - and Waldo running in a by-election is a ridiculous notion, with only Jamie recognising its folly.

You get the sense that Brooker's attacking those who persecute others without having anything meaningful to say - Waldo is essentially a Twitter hate storm brought to big blue animated life.

But when Monroe launches a personal attack on Jamie on live television, the man behind the bear finally extends himself beyond fart jokes and expresses a political opinion, hitting back at his nemesis in savage fashion - the end result of the outburst being that Waldo becomes more popular than ever and impossible for Jamie to contain...

'Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment'

© Channel 4

Waldo's popularity starts to soar...



The biggest problem with this Black Mirror is that it's never really clear how we're supposed to feel about Waldo. Are we supposed to despair at his base humour and at those who lap it up? Or are we meant to get behind him, since he provides a more 'real' alternative to your average Tory politician?

Liam Monroe may be a sham, but - as Jamie points out - the Waldo effect of boiling democracy down to its basest thumbs-up / thumbs-down YouTube form isn't a great alternative either.

Even Jamie himself - Waldo's more sympathetic human face - lacks any real conviction and thoughtlessly torpedoes the career of sympathetic Labour candidate Gwendolyn Harris (Chloe Pirrie).

'Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment'

© Channel 4

Jamie lashes out at his creation.



Brooker's usually pin-sharp satirical eye wanders here and the end result is disappointing - the episode's final flashforward, in which it's implied that Waldo's continued existence will lead to some sort of bizarre dystopian future, feels particularly half-baked.

While last week's episode was a little too on-the-nose with its message, 'The Waldo Moment' has the opposite problem - it's unfocused and, like its title character, takes pot-shots at multiple targets without saying anything particularly meaningful itself.

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