TV Critic’s Corner

Picking up the pieces after your ‘Black Mirror’ binge

“MacGyver” (with Lucas Till and Ashley Tisdale) is a post-“Black Mirror” option Friday.
Guy D’Alema/CBS
“MacGyver” (with Lucas Till and Ashley Tisdale) is a post-“Black Mirror” option Friday.

OK, let’s see here. It’s the Friday before New Year’s Eve weekend. Your diploma in coughing from Juilliard somehow scored you a sick day. It’s like 1 degree outside. If I know you like I think I know you (I don’t, but kind of do), I’d guess you might fill in this caesura of new year with a six-episode serving of techno-despair in the form of “Black Mirror,” whose fourth season drops today.

And if IMDb is telling the truth, that should take you about six hours — seven if you remember to eat/etc. Of course, that’s just the watching part. It says nothing about the recovery time.

Like most of what gets dreamed up in the virtual twilight of “Black Mirror,” this bingeing plan of yours is both a great and a terrible idea. Yes, you’ll be primed and prepared for all the think pieces and Facebook fights come Tuesday morning; but you also run the risk of ruining New Year’s for yourself (“Why are my friends and loved ones celebrating the illusory change of a collectively agreed upon digit?! Are we all just bits in a system? Do any of us have free will?!”). 


I’m not here to judge, I’m here to tell you what’s on TV. And should you join the millions who will opt for an Unhappy New Year over the more traditional choice, what follows is a short list of antidotes for your omnidirectional antipathy once you’re through the looking glass (i.e. stuff to cheer you up). 

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Finish your marathon into malaise by 8 p.m. (totally do-able) and you can slide immediately into the lukewarm bath of “British Antiques Roadshow” on WGBH. On Friday’s episode, the team admires a street scene painted by LS Lowry, as well as a miniature piano (dramatic pause) “with a secret”! No it doesn’t download your memories for later access. I need you to focus.

A little later at 9 p.m. on the same channel is the “American Masters” profile of comedy legend Bob Hope (aw man, why did I Google that?), who, no, is not the subject of a chip-based reanimation program. And at the same time over on ABC is the ever-clever resurgent adventurer “MacGyver,” tonight putting a screwdriver and bug spray to unorthodox use. No, he is not an accountant paying to exist in a “MacGyver” simulation because his wife died in a bridge explosion. You are so weird right now. 

From 9 p.m. to midnight on TruTV you can catch a wonder-restoring marathon of “The Carbonaro Effect” starring mind-screwing illusionist Michael Carbonaro, as he plays magical pranks on unsuspecting victims. No, he does not gaslight a heavily drugged felon into believing she’s being hunted. And before you ask, that’s not what the “House Hunters” marathon on HGTV is about either. I’m not sure this is working. 

As a matter of fact, I’m rethinking this. You’re on the level, you might as well stay there. It’s Friday night and some traditions are sacred: History Channel’s got four straight hours of “Ancient Aliens: Declassified.” We’ll see you back on Earth in the near future.  

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @MBrodeur.