Orphan Black Season 1 Eps 1-2 (TV Show Review)
For a while now, several of my friends have been recommending a show called Orphan Black to me. The little that I did read about the show before starting to watch it finally, today, told me that Tatiana Maslany was pretty good as the lead actor and that it had some great science fiction elements. It wasn’t until I saw the show myself that I started to understand the premise, and see what it was all about. All the hype that I kept hearing meant that I was going to check it out at some point anyway, and that’s what happened today. Orphan Black is quite unlike any other show I’ve seen to date, that I can say very definitively.
The show is about Sarah Manning, a con artist who has been AWOL for a while from the life of her foster brother and her daughter and while she’s on the run, she witnesses a woman jump in front of a train. The kicker: the woman looked just like her. And as Sarah attempts to subsume the dead woman’s identity, she gets drawn into a world where there are many, many others like the woman who died that night, and that she inexplicably has several people in the country and beyond who look just like her. Tatiana Maslany gets off to a good start in the first two episodes and I have to admit that I am indeed very intrigued with the show.
In these first two episodes, “Natural Selection” and “Instinct“, we get to meet our protagonist Sarah Manning and also three of the women who look just like her, a German woman named Katja Obinger, Alison Hendrix and Cosima. The show starts off with what looks to be a suicide and from thereon we get taken along for a ride as Sarah discovers that her dead lookalike, Beth Childs, is a cop under investigation and review by the department for the death of a civilian by her hand during an operation. And as if all of this is not enough for con-woman Sarah, we see that there is some kind of a backstory there involving her foster mother and her daughter, whom she hasn’t seen in almost a year, and the same for her foster-brother Felix. And things take an even worse turn when Katja Obinger is killed by a sniper and Sarah gets drawn further and further into the madness of an increasing number of her lookalikes.
The key component in the show is definitely the lead actress Tatiana Maslany and her facility with portraying different characters while still being the “same” person. Katja is a Germand. Alison is a suburban soccer mom. Alison looks to be a techie I think. Whether accents or body posture or what have you, Tatiana seems to slip into the different roles with ease and she definitely becomes the star of the show. I don’t think there’s been another show on television quite like this, where one actor pulls off such heavy-duty work, portraying so many different versions of herself, each different than the last. Mind-boggling.
Where Sarah as a character is concerned, I’ll admit that I’m quite taken with her. The story in the first two episodes is a bit slow-moving and there are some occasional frustratingly slow moments, but by and large, Sarah is always the central focus and we get to see more and more of her with each scene. As a con-woman, there are certain things she does that don’t sit all that well with me, but that are part of her core identity. And it is expected too, given who she is and what she wants from her messed-up life: to never see her abusive boyfriend again and escape somewhere with her foster-brother and her daughter, leaving all her troubles behind. The first two episodes aren’t enough to judge really, but I’m starting to buy into her brand of sanity.
The story itself for these two episodes is something that I liked. The pacing is off, like I said, but this being a science fiction thriller, this is to be expected. Particularly since this is also the start of the show and thus the writers are going to spend an inordinate amount of time building up the characters and the world that they’ve created and envisioned so that we are better able to buy into what they are selling and that we get to care about the characters. Much of episode 2 is really great in that regard and I just loved the ending, plus Sarah’s reaction as well, which was just gold.
The whole concept of “thief becomes a hero and save the day” works really well for the kind of story that the writers are telling here, and with Tatiana Maslany into the mix, things get really good, really fast. One after another, the show presents different conundrums and challenges for the protagonist to overcome and how they are all interwoven together with each other is what’s really great about Orphan Black.
One thing is for sure, this looks to be quite an addicting show. Honestly, after I was done with the second episode, I wanted to move onto the third and then the fourth, but since I had to write a review as well for today, I forwent that for another time, perhaps tomorrow even. Suffice to say, this is a show that I do see myself enjoying as I continue on with it, and with the second season ending the day after tomorrow, I am in a good place as far as the show is concerned, since I can binge-watch this perfectly and be caught up in short order. And it helps that the seasons are quite small, only 10 per, which seems to be quite the new format in television these days, if you look at shows like Continuum and Sleepy Hollow and Black Sails and Penny Dreadful. Hopefully the format helps Orphan Black be even better and given all the awards that this has picked up, I tip my hat to the creators and the writers. They have another fan in me now!
Posted on June 19, 2014, in Orphan Black, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged Évelyne Brochu, BBC America, Canadian-American TV Show, Clones, Cloning, Con Artist, Contemporary SF, Drama, Dylan Bruce, Eugenics, Female Characters, Female Cops, Female Heroes, Female-Centric TV Shows, Genetic Engineering, Genre Television, Graeme Manson, Human Cloning, John Fawcett, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Michael Mando, Orphan Black, Review Central, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Drama, SF Thriller, Soccer Mom, Space, Tatiana Maslany, Television Review, Temple Street Productions, Thriller, TV Show, TV Show Review. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.