Orphan Black

SF elements: clones
  1. season 1. 2013
  2. season 2. 2014
  3. season 3. 2015
  4. season 4. 2016
some clones

2013 / DVD

10 × 45 min episodes

[DVD sleeve]
season 1 review

Sarah Manning [Tatiana Maslany], a street punk in trouble with an ex-boyfriend, sees a woman who looks just like her. When the woman commits suicide in front of her, she steals her bag. She goes to the woman’s apartment, to steal her stuff, then decides instead to take her identity, in order to solve her own ex-boyfriend problems. She persuades her foster brother Felix [Jordan Gavaris] to identify the dead woman as Sarah. But what she doesn’t know is that Beth Childs was a cop under investigation for a civilian death. Or Beth’s boyfriend’s secret. Or that there is an assassin out trying to kill her. Or how much trouble she is really in.

This is brilliant on so many levels. Maslany is excellent at playing all the clones with different personalities so that you really see them as distinct individuals (even when they are impersonating each other!) The special effects mean that she can be on the screen several times at once. And the plot is clever, and fast moving, and twisty. Having just 10 episodes, rather than the usual 22 or 23, means absolutely no padding, yet there’s still great character development. But best of all is the completely naturalistic way Maslany’s various characters behave as they start to uncover who, and why, they are.

Season 1 explains a lot, but not everything, and then ends on a great cliffhanger. I can’t wait for season 2.

Rating: 2
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 25 September 2014

2014 / DVD

10 × 45 min episodes

[DVD sleeve]
season 2 review

One. Of a kind.

Sarah Manning [Tatiana Maslany] and her clone sisters [Tatiana Maslany N] are closing in on the secrets behind their existence.

This is just as brilliant as season one. New levels of bad guys are revealed, characters we thought discarded return to play an important role, other characters are discovered to be not quite who we thought, and relationships between the clones get more complex. The plot twists and turns in interesting and novel ways. As just a small example, the scene between Alison’s husband/minder Donnie, and escaping geneticist Leekie, in the car – and its knock-on effects – was totally unexpected. It all races and builds to another stunning revelation.

In a way, I feel a bit sorry for Tatiana Maslany: where will she ever get another role as great as this one? She gets to play street punk Sarah, pill-popping up-tight Alison, scientist Cosima, corporate droid Rachel, severly disturbed Helena, and more, all at the same time! Well, at least she’s got season 3…

Rating: 2
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 19 August 2015

2015 / DVD

10 × 45 min episodes

[DVD sleeve]
season 3 review

I am not your property

Sarah Manning [Tatiana Maslany] and her clone sisters [Tatiana Maslany N] continue to close in on the secrets behind their existence, as they discover there is a second set of (male) clones.

Once there are two of something, we need names to distinguish them: Sarah and her “sestras” are part of project Leda, while the male clones form project Castor. And through the series we learn the relationship between the two projects, the source material for each line, and much more.

Season 3 is, if anything, even better than the previous seasons: it keeps up the pace of revelations, and has so much history to draw on. One of the things I like about this series is its unpredictability. I am rarely able to guess an action before it happens, or quote a line of dialogue before it is spoken, unlike some shows I could mention. This unpredictability isn’t mere randomness: events usually makes sense in context later, but it makes for an absorbing tale. And the story isn’t at all linear: each of the Leda clones has her own agenda, her own life, even while they are working together to uncover the secrets.

The arrival of a second set of clones further highlights the massive talent of Tatiana Maslany. The Leda clones are all very different people, even when they are playing each other: Cosima giving a speech as Alison, Helena doing a drug deal as Alison, all excellent. Yet I had trouble telling the Castor clones apart. I don’t know whether this was a deliberate decision (highlighting that they were raised together as soldiers), or whether their parts are underwritten, but I do know Maslany deserves every award going. And the special effects are superb without intruding. There is one scene where several of the Leda clones are sitting around the dinner table chatting together: this is “just” a scene comprising several different people, not immediately obvious as a great special effect.

Roll on season 4!

Rating: 2
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 24 November 2016