The show opens on Sarah Manning, a tough, street smart Brit hustler in America, looking to do anything she can to survive...until she comes face to face with herself! The show's creators started with a simple premise. "What would you do if you ran into someone who looked just like you, on a train platform...and then they killed themselves?" For Sarah, a choice needs to be made quickly and since she is in survival mode at the time, it is a clear one. She swoops in and takes the dead doppelganger's bag and swiftly scrambles to assume her identity before anyone is the wiser. One small problem. The new identity is American. And a cop. Two small problems. Later we find Sarah's ganger was also a pill popper at the end of her rope unraveling a world wide cloning conspiracy that she herself was at the center of...so yea...several more problems, but then the maths were never my strong suit. Sarah must play the cop, make an effort to get back her daughter and dodge a killer whilst making sure to not set off alarms to the powers that be that she is onto their giant clone experiment and keep everyone she cares about safe.
There are so many individual elements of this show to appreciate, if one seems a bit contrived, there are several more left to impress you. Let's start with Sarah Manning herself ( Tatiana Maslany), playing 6 versions of herself, often with 2 to 3 in the same shot, and often with one being the thick Brit punk accented Sarah and another..say, an anal retentive all American soccer mom. Tatiana brings new mannerisms, vocal patterns and movement to each individual clone to the point where you will often forget IT'S THE SAME DAMN ACTRESS!! It is truly an amazing thing to watch and a new high for the medium of Television, especially when you factor in what the show's crew has to do to synch up her acting performances and make it all look seamless. Orphan Black keeps an overall foreboding tone as the puppeteers behind this conspiracy slowly make themselves known and the "women" struggle to keep afloat, pretending to lead normal lives while pulling at the strings. This leads to tense moments, odd encounters, random sexyness, naturally occurring, quite spontaneous hilarity and a creepy, homicidal cutter...and shining over it all like a brilliant gay sun is Felix, Sarah's (sort of) adopted brother who is gay but doesn't spend the whole show shouting gay gay gay gay gay gay but rather is spectacularly written with equal doses of unease, sarcasm and loose morality. Amazing.
I've been sent the DVD version which includes extras that lay out the birth of this twisted scifi tale and the characters that play house within, the challenges of the many indentical-but-different faces of Tatiana Maslany for the actress, film makers and designers alike...and a bit of interviewing from...THE NERDIST!! Yay. What a surprise. It's Chris Hardwick. I half expect him to pour out along with my Honey Bunches of Oats each morning squeaking "geek geek geek!" like a lil baby chicken. Anyyyyway...nice little extras to compliment a superb new show you can now become obsessed with and further prove to Hollywood there ARE original ideas to be found and nourished...and they should go do just that.
Get Orphan Black Season 1 on DVD at 23% off!