Sunday, October 19, 2014

Taking The Black

Even with a new TV season upon us, I've been binge-watching old shows. For instance, just caught up with the first two seasons of Orphan Black. For a while I've been hearing critics say it's an outrage that star Tatiana Maslany has not been nominated for best lead actress in a drama, and now I understand.  No matter what else you think of the show, it's a real tour de force for her.

Orphan Black starts with protagonist Sarah Manning seeing a woman who looks just like her at a train station--and then having the woman jump in front of a train.  Sarah steals her purse and the mystery begins. She discovers her doppelganger is a detectivbe, and hopes to make some much-needed money by taking her place, but soon finds herself involved in a world where she has numerous clones.  The more she discovers, the more the conspiracy grows, and the more dangerous it becomes.

The show, then, is a mystery-thriller, with a sci-fi bent and some farce thrown in built around all those clones. Maslany plays numerous characters, including troubled Sarah Manning, button-down suburban housewife Alison, scientist Cosima and crazed killer Helena.  Sometimes these characters even impersonate one another, yet Maslany makes each character a separate creation.  For that matter, they often interact, and Maslany is believable on both ends.

There are other characters, or course, such as Felix, Sarah's foster brother (they're both British and the show is from BBC America, so it took a while for me to understand it takes place in America (and is shot in Canada)), Art, the partner of the one who killed herself, Paul, an ex-mercenary who lived with Beth, Delphine, Cosima's co-worker and many others.

The show is fun, though I liked the first season better than the second.  Discovering what's going on was fun, but in the second season, though plenty is still not known, things are more out in the open, and the characters have a better understanding of what's happening.  Thus the show turned from a fascinating mystery to a more by-the-books thriller.  Also, I find Helena one of the more tiresome characters, but she won't seem to go away.

Anyway, the third season is starting next year, and I'll be watching.

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