2 out of 5
Created by: Dez Dolly and Will Campos
covers season 1
It starts out okay, sort of charmingly hokey with a good spin on social media (in which custom mates are created in a lab – initially unaware of their artificiality until discarded), and the general setup absolutely evokes the Twilight Zone vibe its “you’re now entering an alternate dimension” VO introduction – from Mark Hamill, no less – is aiming for, but the proliferation of feel good endings starts to chafe, and stacked on top of the increasingly obvious targets – mass produced culture! Artificial intelligence! – the charm starts to dwindle, existing only in flashes of creativity between dragging or occasionally obnoxious sections.
This is Black Mirror written with more of a dumb smile than Mirror’s evil grin and if Black Mirror also has a problem with easy targets (which it absolutely does – there’s nothing really challenging about the stances it takes), at least it has the decency to generally approach those setups with more defined characters who are intriguing in their own right. 404’s slew of recognizable faces are cast as cookie cutter plug-ins to the cookie cutter concepts; its like an endless meet cute of sci-fi fanfic.
The show’s production qualities are good, and there’s a willingness to lean on geek culture – movies, nostalgia, video games – that’s admittedly fun, and accurately represented, but the show would have benefited, perhaps, from a half hour format, as every promising setup runs out of steam about twenty minutes in, and that’s when the cliches start rolling out.
All that criticism being heaped… it is, admittedly, acceptably quirky filler. And since I’ve brought it up already, I guess I would end up saying something similar about Black Mirror. While I think the latter trusts its audience a bit more and is thus the superior show, neither series digs all that deep, with D404’s intentions much more clearly out to please than attempt to be subversive. Taken in small doses, the hollow characters and sappy sentimentality can be somewhat ignored amidst the snappy visual style. That is to say: In lieu of something better, it’ll do. But given that the general ideas are there for something more impressive, it’d be nice if Dimension 404 could actually be that ‘better’ all on its lonesome.