Television Review: Orphan Black, Series 1

Orphan Back 1

Orphan Back 2Plot: Sarah Manning lives a troubled life. Having fled her home to hide from the law, she returns to try and make amends with her young daughter. When a woman who looks exactly like Sarah commits suicide, Sarah steals her ID as an attempt to turn her own life around.

Instead, she stumbles across something bigger. The woman is not the only one to look like Sarah. They are a group of clones. Sarah discovers someone is out to kill them and both her life and her daughter’s is in danger if she doesn’t get to the bottom of it.

 

Orphan Back 3

Quote: `We’re clones. We’re someone’s experiment and they are killing us off!`

 

Opinion: John Fawcett is not a name I had come across before watching Orphan Black, but I would be happy to see anything else he had his hand in. The show is refreshing and invigorating, the likes of which I haven’t seen for a long time. Instead of the superhero shows I have grown used to, this takes an ordinary woman, one down on her luck with the world against her, and shows what she could become when faced with impossible choices. A tale of loyalty and love, of danger and fear, this first series gripped me from the initial episode.

Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) grew up not knowing who her parents were, often on the wrong side of the law to try and make something of herself. When faced with the truth –she is one of several clones – Sarah has to fight to establish her own identity and prove that she is an individual, not one of a pack ready to be picked off.

Maslany should take the credit for this show working considering she plays most of the characters. From the street-wise Sarah to the prim housewife Alison, Maslany effectively conveys all of the different characters in a realistic manner. Her portrayal of the deranged Helena is chilling even as her budding scientist Casima mixes innocence with the quest for answers. She must have spent hours in make-up for each episode!

The secondary characters – especially Felix (Jordan Garavis) – strengthen Sarah’s character. They are essential to binding the different stories together, of putting the pieces together in a way that the audience can follow. They also change the tone: Felix adds humour while Arthur (Kevin Hanchard) and Paul (Dylan Bruce) bring the seriousness and romance alike. The balance between the three complicates Sarah’s character in a way Maslany makes believable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show. The pacing could have done with being a little faster in places, but in general the tension was at the right level with humour interrupting to keep the show entertaining. It has been a long time since a show gripped me from the first episode which proves the story is interesting and engaging, the characters likeable and the filming itself strong enough that I can’t pick holes in it.

I’m looking forward to watching further series, a sign of a strong show.

Amazon | HMV

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