TV preview: The techno-paranoia is real in both Westworld and Black Mirror

  • Westworld
    Tuesday 18 October 2016, 9pm, Sky Atlantic
  • Black Mirror
    Friday 21 October 2016, Netflix
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The Independent Culture

"These violent delights have violent ends." Or so the Westworld mantra goes, repeated enough times to drill in the fact that a robot rebellion is (probably) underway. HBO halted production on this series back in January which caused widespread concern - was the premium cable network's most hyped series in trouble? - but three episodes in and this western-sci-fi hybrid is showing it clearly knows exactly which direction it's headed.

This episode - number three - follows several strands: Bernard (Jeffrey Wright, a series highlight) continues to investigate the hosts, this time attempting to discover the source of their madness, while android Teddy (James Marsden) is reprogrammed with a new back story which gives him something more to do than stand around as shooting practice. The episode's peak, however, arrives with the storyline taken from Michael Crichton's source material (the 1973 film of the same name) which explores the theme park through the eyes of newcomers Logan and William (Ben Barnes and Jimmi Simpson playing the James Brolin and Richard Benjamin characters).

It's actually tough to recall such a high-profile series feeling this assured by its third episode (Lost, perhaps?), but showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are proving master puppeteers; roll on next week.

Not unlike Westworld's malfunctioning androids, it seems the very notion of artificial intelligence turning against us is airborne - next week sees the long-awaited return of Charle Brooker's anthology series Black Mirror which he brings to us alongside co-creator Annabel Jones. Brooker's ensured all the genres have been ticked off with this new run - there's satire, romance, techno-horror and even a London-set drama inspired by Scandinavian dramas The Killing and The Bridge.  

The series - newly acquired by Netflix - may have been handed three extra episodes, a glossy makeover (the increased budget's been put to impressively subtle use) and a heap of fresh talent for each episode ("Nosedive" alone stars Jurassic World's Bryce Dallas Howard, is directed by Atonement's Joe Wright and bears a writing credit for Rashida Jones and Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur), but fret not: it's business as usual. And by that, we mean delving into the uninitiated will leave you struggling for air.

Violent delights, yadda yadda.

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