“Bandersnatch” offers an unusual television experience — but not a very satisfying one.
The new “Black Mirror” special follows Stefan Butler as he attempts to turn a science fiction novel (also called “Bandersnatch”) into a Choose Your Own Adventure-style video game. As the story progresses, Stefan gets pulled deeper into the mystery of what happened to “Bandersnatch” author Jerome F. Davies, a mystery that eventually involves parallel universes, government conspiracies and Stefan’s own family tragedy.
Netflix has experimented with interactive content before, though previously aimed at kids — for example with an adaptation of “Minecraft: Story Mode” from Telltale Games. The format, where the viewer is periodically given a limited time to choose Stefan’s next action, should also feel familiar to players of Telltale titles like “The Walking Dead” and “Batman: The Telltale Series.”
The big difference, however, is that most other games want you to feel that your choices are meaningful. “Bandersnatch” flips the formula on its head, ripping away the illusion of free will and consequence and instead exploring a scenario where your choices can often feel reversible or otherwise meaningless.
On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we’re joined by Kirsten Korosec to review the show. Our reactions ranged from outright hatred to tentative admiration for the creators’ ambition — but even when we found “Bandersnatch” to be at least conceptually interesting, the experience itself became tiresome by the end.
We also review “Bird Box,” the new Netflix thriller starring Sandra Bullock as a woman navigating a world overrun by monsters who cannot be seen — because if you see them, you’ll immediately kill yourself. According to Netflix, “Bird Box” set a record among the streaming service’s original films for most viewers in its first week.
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