Santa’s bringing existential terror this Christmas! Well, to be fair, a little after Christmas — the Black Mirror return is set for Dec. 29. (The delay is probably due to Santa rocking back and forth in horror after binging the whole season.) And while Santa gets screeners, the rest of us don’t, so we’ve got to fill up the time between then and now with other shows. If like us, you can’t wait for Black Mirror to come back, the amazing other series of Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker are a great place to start.
Unfortunately, not all of these series are available for streaming in the United States (but most everything’s on YouTube these days anyway). But where applicable, we’ve included official links. Happy streaming!
Before the Black Mirror return, binge these 5 Charlie Brooker series:
1. Dead Set
While we’re soooo sick of zombies, Dead Set is the exception that proves the rule. A five-episode mini-series, Dead Set takes place at the Big Brother UK house, which turns out to be the only safe place in Britain after a zombie outbreak. The series is an effective example of survival horror while also skewering reality television.
The housemates are exactly as irritating and ineffectual as they are during a normal season of Big Brother — bickering about petty things while the world literally collapses around them. Thankfully, this one’s easy to find — just go to Netflix!
2. A Touch of Cloth
If you’re in the mood for something lighter, try A Touch of Cloth. Co-written with Daniel Maier, a frequent Brooker collaborator, A Touch of Cloth is a Police Squad! or Angie Tribeca-style goof on police procedurals like CSI. The pun-laden show stars John Hannah as Detective Jack Cloth and Suranne Jones as Detective Anne Oldman. There were three series of two hour-long episodes each.
While everyone involved wanted to do a fourth series, the network wasn’t interested — but we can still hold out hope that A Touch of Cloth will return.
Also, for those not in the UK, the title refers to the slang phrase “to touch cloth,” which means “to poo oneself.”
3. Weekly Wipe
Charlie Brooker has always been interested in TV and the media in general. For a decade, he wrote the column “Screen Burn” for The Guardian about shows that were airing that week. In his early career, he was most famous for the website TV Go Home, a satirical TV schedule. So it’s not surprising that one of his greatest series is Weekly Wipe (which had a number of titles over the years: Screenwipe, Newswipe, Gameswipe along with specials like Electionwipe and the spinoff documentary series How TV Ruined Your Life).
No matter the name, the format is basically the same. Ostensibly a weekly look at TV, the various Wipes use current events as a springboard to talk about media literacy in a hilarious, engaging style. If you’ve ever wondered why you see things over and over in shows and the news, Charlie Brooker will explain why and exactly how it happens. Given the depth to which he goes, though the show looks like a current-events program, it’s very rarely dated when you re-watch episodes from years past. Normally there’s a year-end Wipe special, but sadly 2017 will be the first Wipe-less year since 2010.
4. Nathan Barley
Nathan Barley was co-created by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris. Morris is another frequent collaborator of Brooker; the two worked on the brilliant “Paedogeddon” episode of Brass Eye together. Nathan Barley is a spinoff of sorts from Brooker’s TV Go Home website; that site featured a recurring show titled Cunt about an irritating daft hipster named Nathan Barley.
The series follows the constant intersections between the lives of Barley and journalist Dan Ashcroft (played by Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh) who hates Barley and everything he represents. The character Nathan Barley had a website with the amazing URL of Trashbat.co.ck that also made its way into the real world, however it’s no longer online.
NBC’s late, lamented comedy streaming platform SeeSo had Nathan Barley available in the States, but with that site down, Nathan Barley is, once again, in streaming limbo.
5. Cunk on Shakespeare / Cunk on Christmas
One of the breakout characters from Weekly Wipe is Philomena Cunk. Cunk, played by Diane Morgan, is an utterly dim commentator. She started out giving ill-thought-out views on television alongside Barry Shitpeas (played by Al Campbell), though she soon started contributing “Moments of Wonder” segments to Weekly Wipe where she’d take an “in-depth” look at a topic.
She even got her own spinoff specials, Cunk on Shakespeare and Cunk on Christmas, where she explains the history of Shakespeare and Santa, respectively. Remarkably, on watching the specials you will actually learn something despite Cunk not learning a thing. While there’s no 2017 Wipe this year, Charlie Brooker did share the good news that a full Cunk on Britain series is coming early next year! We can’t wait!
Featured image courtesy of Netflix