Black Mirror: USS Callister on the Royale with Cheese Movie Club

I had no desire to watch the Super Bowl yesterday.  Hell, I don’t even know who won, although I suspect that with all the memes on Facebook this morning, I wouldn’t have been happy with the results.  Something about the refs giving the victory to the Patriots.  That, and Maroon 5 doing the halftime show.  Yeah … no.

Plus, I just received my upgraded Apple TV module – my original Apple TV module couldn’t pick up certain stations for some reason, and other shows I watched on Apple TV would freeze up mid-broadcast – so between episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet and a mini-marathon of some weapons-making competition show called Forged in Fire – as well as a YouTube video of some Australian coming-of-age drama based on the YA novel Puberty Blues – I decided to check out this Black Mirror anthology series.

And the first episode I watched was the Black Mirror episode / movie USS Callister.

Holy cow.  What the hell have I been missing?

Trust me.  I am a sucker for Star Trek parody and satire, whether it was the excellent Galaxy Quest movie, or even the “it’s funny sometimes but not always” The Orville TV series.  Heck, even the John Belushi-inspired Captain Kirk impression from the first season of Saturday Night Live was a laugh riot.

USS Callister, however, provided an interesting wrinkle.  Here I am watching Jesse Plemons do his best Captain Kirk over-the-top imitation – trust me, the guy can act, whether it’s playing lovable doofus Landry from Friday Night Lights or the creepy Opie from Breaking Bad.  The rest of the cast I didn’t recognize, but the storyline was quite fascinating.

Apparently Plemons’ character is a huge fanboy for a 1960’s Star Trek-like show called USS Callister, so much so that he has created a computerized MMORPG virtual reality game with his own personal modifications based on the TV series.  And for those real-life co-workers whom he has either disagreements with or secret lust for –he has taken DNA samples from them and turned those DNA samples into avatars in his game, to be personal co-stars in his own toxic fanboy fantasy.

This was impressive.  I liked the episode as its own statement about when TV show fans take things too far – I’m looking at you, you creepy Firefly Browncoat wanks – as well as a new take on the idea of personal possessiveness and sing real-life people as personal revenge punishment in fantasy games.

For example … at one time I knew someone who was seriously hooked on a MMORPG game called EverQuest.  The person actually used relatives’ names as characters in the quest – and had those characters get killed and attacked in nearly every role-playing campaign.  It was almost as if they were being punished for some perceived wrong that they never knew they did.  And while watching USS Callister, I saw how creepy and unsettling that was – both in the movie and also with that person I once knew.  Ugh.  As far as I know, I think that person is now spending more time haunting Second Life than they are living in the real life.

So yeah, I enjoyed USS Callister, and I’ll get around to trying some more Black Mirror episodes as time progresses.

As I said before, it’s nice to see someone take those old 1960’s sci-fi tropes – the colorful uniforms, the over-exposition, the undefined concepts that fans are supposed to define for the writers – and turn it into a whole new concept about personal privacy and toxic fan-worship.

And the fact that I enjoyed watching this more than I would have enjoyed watching a blah Super Bowl with blah commercials and a blah halftime show and a blah blah blah yawn experience – honestly,  I made the right choice last night. 😀

By the way, if there are any other Black Mirror episodes that you would recommend I watch, I’m open to suggestions and recommendations.  That’s why I have a comments section on this blog.