Saturday, 7 May 2016

TV44: Mr. Robot


Not too often do I use that word for a TV show, but this is no ordinary TV show - it’s the best new show I have watched for a long time. I watched the first season of Mr. Robot purely on the basis of the very little I knew about the show’s intriguing premise, so the high quality of the show was a wonderful surprise (I now know that Mr. Robot is indeed a critically-acclaimed show).

Mr. Robot is so well-made that it’s worth watching just for the unique cinematography and outstanding music, though only if you enjoy watching dark and twisted surreal psychological cyber-thrillers, which is the genre into which I place this show. This is a mix of Fight Club (without the fighting), V for Vendetta and The Matrix. It also reminded me of Dexter (without the serial killing). That’s a fascinating mix and Mr. Robot is an endlessly fascinating show.

Rami Malek stars as Elliot Alderson, a genius hacker who suffers from a variety of mental disorders and a drug addiction. With Elliot doing voiceovers (speaking to an imaginary friend - the viewer?), this gives the entire show a quirky disoriented feel. In fact, the atmosphere of Mr. Robot is perfectly realized and it’s terrific (well, if you like disorienting psychological cyber-thrillers, which apparently I do). 

Elliot is convinced that there is something very wrong with society in the 21st century and that the top one percent of the top one percent keep the world in their thrall. This isn’t exactly a revelation, but the anti-consumerist and anti-establishment mindset that forms the backdrop for Mr. Robot certainly grabbed my attention. Elliot is recruited by Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), the mysterious leader of a group of anarchists calling themselves fsociety, into helping them bring down the world’s biggest and most corrupt company, called E Corp (or Evil Corp to Elliot and his friends). Elliot’s life (and the lives of those around him) gets chaotic in a hurry.

There are many plot twists along the way, and some are quite satisfying. I figured out the season’s biggest plot twist in the first few minutes of the first episode (sometimes I wish my mind would stop trying to do that), but by the time it was revealed I had forgotten that I had figured it out. 

All of the central characters in Mr. Robot are unique, engaging and relatively well-developed. Some are even good people. The actors playing these characters do an excellent job (Malek is perfectly cast as Elliot and Slater is great as Mr. Robot), though some of the minor players are less convincing (in fairness, it can be a real challenge to deliver some of the surreal dialogue in Mr. Robot).

Mr. Robot is the kind of show I’m always looking for; this is cutting-edge television. It gets an easy ****. My mug is up, but don’t forget that I warned you about the ‘dark and twisted’. 

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