Haven’t We Met? (Series Review: “Orphan Black”)

If you’ve seen the recent covers of Entertainment Weekly, or Buzz, or FilmFest Preview, you probably had a similar reaction to mine: who’s that lovely young actress I’ve never seen before, why is she everywhere, and why is she pictured in so many different costumes and hairstyles? Then I crawled out from beneath my rock and met Sarah, Beth, Alison, Cosima, Helena, et al, in the very smart, very cool series from BBC America, Orphan Black. Although this is surely a sci-fi thriller about Cloning, the science takes a back seat to the characters (clones and all), the nail-biting action and a dizzying emotional roller coaster of a ride. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’re in luck because the entire 2013 Season 1 is available for streaming. If not, I have the other digital platforms listed at the end of my post to show you where else you can find this captivating series.

SnapShot Plot

Breakout Canadian star,Tatiana Maslany rocks as the anti-hero Sarah, a tough British hustler who we meet on a train platform as she’s returning to Toronto after almost a year. In some ways she reminds us of Lisbeth Salander from Dragon Tattoo, but all similarities are forgotten once we realize what’s really going on here. Sarah spots a young well-dressed woman from behind, talking on her phone and obviously agitated. As Sarah walks toward her, the woman turns around and she’s an exact replica of Sarah. The two lock eyes and a split second later the mysterious doppelganger throws herself into the path of an oncoming train. Being the grifter she is, Sarah deftly snatches the dead girl’s handbag, checks the wallet for i.d., realizes the address is in a tony part of town, sees the keys to a luxury car and decides to go let herself in to see what she can steal before anyone knows the victim is dead. Now the ride gets interesting as Sarah finds herself impersonating the dead woman so that she can make off with a substantial bank account but soon realizes something very sinister is afoot when other dead ringers start showing up out of nowhere. The high drama is punctuated by Sarah’s gay pal, Felix (hysterically played by Jordan Gavaris) with whom she grew up in the foster care system and who is the only person she truly trusts. So what begins as almost a heist story turns into an ensemble acting tour de force by one single actress playing the ensemble herself, in a thrilling plot with plenty of twists and turns, but so much human drama to make it a total pleasure to watch.

Parting Shot

Whenever there’s such a buzz about a Television series, I approach with a degree of cautious optimism, given how big my time commitment will be to watch an entire series, especially one whose 2nd season is already in the hopper. Orphan Black didn’t disappoint. When I find myself intrigued, moved, horrified and did I mention, giggling in the first 10 minutes of a show, I know I can and will make a happy commitment to the rest of Season 1 while I patiently wait for Season 2. Co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett have struck gold with Orphan Black. Meanwhile, I’ll be scanning the faces of short, blonde, middle-aged women to be on the lookout for other endangered clones, no matter how unique I feel I am!

Orphan Black is streaming on Amazon Prime.

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YouTube Trailer Courtesy of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do_BCA-vR9E

 

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