Sunday, June 2, 2013

Orphan Black Season One Review - Some Mild Spoilers

By Ken Parker

We all have those shows that we hear about and think “maybe I will watch it” or “If I have time I might give it a chance” or “perhaps someday..” Orphan Black was that type of show
for me. I really had little time to watch a new show but I gave it a chance. Ten episodes later and this series is my favorite show of the season. I wasn't expecting this and what a surprise. Every week this series got better and better. It continued to improve.

It started off fairly strong with a great set up plot about a woman, Sarah Manning who discovers that she was cloned numerous times. These clones are monitored by some organization. Meanwhile the clones are being killed off by an assassin. Sarah falls into a situation where she is trying to find out more about the clones, who is killing them, who is monitoring them, why one of the clones committed suicide and how she was going to protect her young daughter with all this going on.

The writers of the series of brilliantly woven a story with excellently conceived characters and a complex almost comedic ever escalating tale of intrigue and mystery. Each of the clones, Sarah, Cosima, Allison and Helena are so well defined character wise that it is often easy to forget they are played by the same actress. Each of them at one point ends up pretending to another in order to discover more info or keep their lives fairly normal. Sarah pretends to be the police officer Beth and soon gets way over her head as she uses these resources to investigate her would be assassin. She must also cover up the fact that her clone, Beth, is dead and that the assassin and her victim look just like her.

The plot is a mash-up of mystery, suspense, drama, sci-fi, comedy and action and is so beautifully woven together it never seems to be too much of one type. The various characters supporting the story are also well constructed and handled. The series unfolds its mysteries little by little and progresses along toward the end where so much has been revealed and since the series has been renewed for a second season, has a few cliffhangers and new reveals.

It is hard not to totally buy into the story and the setting. Quickly you will latch onto your favorite clone character and then perhaps you might change your mind the next episode as another clone takes center stage.

As I have said before, it is hard to remember that the same actress is playing multiple parts and some of that credit goes to the excellent special effect of melding the different performances into one scene. It is very well done and seamless.

The vast credit though goes to actress Tatiana Maslany. Not only does she sell the idea that each clone has a different personality but she is a primary reason why this series is as good as it is. The writers are certainly providing excellent material for all the actors in this series but Tatiana is hitting it out of the park week after week with no other performer in any other series on TV having the challenge she has every episode. It is not even close.

If Tatiana Maslany does not win an Emmy and Golden Globe awards for best actress then it will be an insult to that awards ceremony as well as an insult to all the actresses in that category.

We have seen actors play alternative parts before and they have done a good job but this is multiple characters every episode and at times she is playing every character in the scene. The fact that each character is so vastly different and so enjoyable in their own right only adds to the performance level that we are talking about. Credit must be given to the other performers in the series for playing their parts off of the different clone characters.

EDIT - I just found this making of clip that shows how Tatiana had to act in several separate scenes during the scenes with 3 clones in the same shot.

Orphan Black is 10 episodes long and you have until spring 2014 to catch up with it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The DVD and Blu-ray is out on July 16 and is already available On Demand.

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