In a world dominated by the flood of long format television, the BBC has made their presence felt in a powerful way. From the adaptation of shows like House of Cards, which became must see TV, to the new influx of intelligent programming like Downtown Abbey, and Sherlock, smart truly became the new sexy.
Hidden away from the mainstream was a tightly written gem called Orphan Black. Created by screenwriter Graeme Manson, and director John Fawcett, Orphan Black is a brilliant concept and an actor's wet dream. Tatiana Maslany, plays a series of human clones in the world of today’s Toronto with the conviction of a true multiple personality disorder. More than once, the actress is performing a role that calls for playing one character taking on the life of another character then sharing the frame with other characters played by her. The range of single mother grunge loser small time con artist, to police detective, to tightly wound soccer mom, to charming bi-sexual grad student, to psychotic Russian killer, often in the same frame is enough to make any actress wake up on all sides of the bed. Miss Maslany pulls it off with, what appears, little difficulty, and with the help of some pretty amazing blocking and camera work. I also imagine the Mr. Fawcett and his team spend a fair amount time and a fair amount of caffeine helping Miss Maslany keep track of all the parts she is playing and making sure the performance cut together seamlessly, but who knows, maybe Miss Maslany is really that good. Also it should be mentioned, that Jordan Gavaris gives a memorable and truly likeable performance as Felix, one of the clone’s step brother, but this show belongs to Miss Maslany and the many roles she must bring to life.
The plot created by Mr. Manson, is as twisted as any you could find, but the production team and supporting cast pull it together and communicates it with great polish. Though the first episodes are a bit to get through, by the time you’re in episode three, you can kiss going to sleep good bye. Not since the days of24, has a DVD player devoured an entire season of a show in a single sitting, like Orphan Black. To be fair, the same thing happened with Sherlock, but with the great disappointment that Sherlock is only three episodes per season.
By the way, to any and all who haven’t seen the BBCSherlock, buy, rent, view all 3 seasons at once. Believe me you’ll be glad you did. So to wrap up, to all those long format viewers like me, if you’re waiting around for season 4 of Sherlock or season 5 of Game of Thrones, you might want to find a rainy weekend to save for Season 1 Orphan Black. Bit of advice, don’t do it on a work day evening, unless you can function on no sleep.
By L. Wayne Cheo
Film and Television Critic, CodeNYC