I lost another weekend… this time to an incredible binge-watchable series called Orphan Black. Many of you already know it, but I tend to be late to the party. Thankfully, though, I made it. If you haven’t yet seen it, you really NEED to.
Why? Because the story, the filmmaking, and most of all, the acting are superb. Possibly better than Madmen and Homeland, my other binge-watchable addictions.
Orphan Black is part corporate conspiracy, part sci-fi, part romance, and all-around suspense thriller. Its premise centers on a youngish female grifter, Sarah Manning, who assumes the identity of a look-alike cop who has committed suicide. It turns out Sarah has bumped into a scientific experiment with clones, of which she is one of nine—and possibly more. Actress Tatiana Maslany plays all the clones, and that’s where the magic begins.
Maslany is terrific. Not only does she imbue each character with their own personality, but her accents, physicial mannerisms, and facial expressions are unique to each character. She does this with such ease and professionalism that I never once got the feeling she was “impersonating” a character. Each of the women are nuanced individuals. Whether she’s scientist Cosima, soccer mom Alison, or crazy Helena, Maslany invests herself totally in each role. I had no trouble knowing and believing in the credibility of each character. That’s how good she is.
And when they’re talking to each other in the same scene—well, that’s when the technical wizardry of the film-makers comes in. Never once did I see a clumsy double pasted into a scene. The superimpositions were done seamlessly which shows (at least to me) a mastery of form and craft. And, btw, the opening titles are visually magnificent.
The story is quite dark, and often violent, but just when you think you might need a break, comic relief appears, usually through Sarah’s foster brother, Felix, who is superbly played by Canadian Jordan Gavaris (In fact, most of the actors are Canadian)… and Alison, the perfect soccer mom, who has a hilariously noirish edge.
BBC America produces the series, which is shot in Canada, and Season 1 is free on Amazon, if you’re in Prime. Season 2 is only $12.99. For season 3, you’ll have to wait until next spring.
Now for the most important question. Who is your favorite?
There’s Sarah, of course, always dark and brooding; Cosima, the brainy scientist with dreadlocks and a perpetual smiles; Helena, childlike but mentally deranged and dangerous; Alison, the suburban soccer Mom; Rachel, the Machiavellian corporate executive; even a cross-gender clone, Tony.
I’ll tell you mine, if you tell me yours…