‘Orphan Black’ – Canada Day Crazy-Awesomeness

toothpick-flag-canadaHappy Canada Day!

Just to make this an even more exciting day, Murdoch Mysteries and Republic of Doyle are back in full swing production, and Once Upon a Time is set to start filming again shortly.

OrphanBlackIn the meantime, however, my drought of television shows to watch is going just fine.  The only show that I’m watching this summer is the Canadian (and British & American co-production) science-fiction series Orphan Black, for which I missed its initial run and so I’m watching weekly reruns.  There are only ten episodes, but the first three so far have been as dramatic and well-produced as a film.  The story is captivating, the setting is so realistic and normal that it is unsettling, and the acting is amazing.

Why is the acting amazing?

The main cast of this show is fairly small.  In the first three episodes, there is only a half-dozen main and supporting cast members that have any character depth or plot significance.  However, the first-billed actress (Tatiana Maslany) plays three different characters in the series premiere, four in the second episode, and four (not all the same as previously) in the third episode.  Since I have the benefit of this not being a first-run show, I have the final tally of seven characters that she plays over the course of the first season.  To top that off, often the characters are impersonating each other, and Maslany manages to convey that she is not merely slipping into the other character, but is actually playing the first characters who is playing the second one, and then some.  (See this article for clips and further details.)  In other words, this is her show, and all of the rest of the main cast is supporting her.  However, the transitions are done with such ease that it is very easy to forget that the different characters are being played by the same actress because the characters are very distinct.

Why does the main actress play over half a dozen characters?

(SPOILER ALERT)  While this is a sci-fi series, it takes place in the present day in Toronto, and the only thing about it that is off is that human genetic experimentation has been taken to higher levels than theory.  Since it is implied that this is done in secret, the show even implies that this type of story could be taking place not in the near future, not in a galaxy far away, nor in an alternate universe, but in the very present day.  As I said earlier, the realism is unsettling.  Everything about the show portrays it to be a realistic drama aside from the genetic experimentation.  In fact, the first episode has the tone of an identity-theft police mystery/action-drama.  The main character, Sarah Manning, witnesses a woman who looks just like her commit suicide and steals her identity.  She intends to use the new identity to a) make a clean break from her abusive boyfriend, and b) set up a new life for herself with her daughter, who is in the care of Sarah’s former foster mother.  Of course, things don’t go at all according to plan, and she finds herself deep in the middle of a conspiracy.

So far, I have really been thrilled with the show.  It is the type of realistic science fiction that makes one think about where we could be headed if we’re not careful.  It is also mysterious and action-packed, so there is not too much thinking as you actually watch it.  The characters are believable and multi-dimensional, even if some of them are a little over-the-top.  They are believably over-the-top, and the show implies that there are reasons for their behaviour — if anything, it is a coping mechanism.

I look forward to watching the rest of the season.  The only downside?  The next season doesn’t air until next year, late winter or early spring.

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2 Responses to ‘Orphan Black’ – Canada Day Crazy-Awesomeness

  1. Pingback: Orphan Black – Season 1 Finale | Katy by the Fireplace

  2. Pingback: Orphan Black – Season 2 (April-June 2014) | Katy by the Fireplace

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