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Hey Bros!

Ever watch a TV show all at once instead of week after week?  This is the concept behind Binge Watch!  My review column for watching way too much TV!  This week I’m reviewing the BBC series:  Orphan Black.

Show Premise:  Sarah is a street hustler and struggling single mom that discovers she’s one of many clones.  A conspiracy unfolds as she tries to uncover her true origins and protect her daughter from the people that cloned her.

Season 1:  Most of season 1 focuses on Sarah taking the place of the first clone she meets.  The first ten episodes are pretty intense and lead actress Tatiana Maslany does an amazing job of not only playing  clones with four distinct personalities and mannerisms, but also playing clones that swap places with other clones.  The series is set in America, but I’m pretty sure it was shot in the UK.  Still, the producers do a pretty good job of keeping the places generic enough so that the characters aren’t caught up in any specifically American places.

Sarah takes the place of her clone, who is in a position of authority.  Initially planning on emptying her bank account and leaving, she finds out her clone was unraveling the mystery behind her origins.  Sarah ends up caught in the conspiracy and then slowly gets pulled further and further in, until she becomes the defacto leader of the clones.  The clones include Allison (the uptight housewife), Cosima (the scientist) and Hellena (the crazy Ukrainian).  Caught in the middle is Sarah’s foster brother, Felix, who ends up sidekick to all the clones at one point or another.

The accents of the actors are spot on.  (What is it about English actors that can do American accents?)  It’s hard to tell which actors are American and which are just actors from the UK putting on airs.  But still, with this many English and foreign characters, the feel is distinctly European.  However, the pacing isn’t the kind you’d expect from most BBC shows.  It tends on the brisk and once the show gets rolling, it’s pretty much a rollercoaster of conspiracies, action and Sarah slipping out of one bad situation to even worse ones.

Season 2:  It’s hard to compare the seasons together.  Early reveals tend to be bigger and more exciting because you have so little information to go on.  Orphan Black, however, always seems to find new and interesting ways of bringing back side characters.  The conspiracy is peeled back and the corporation behind all the manipulation and monitoring of the clones eventually pushes Sarah and her cohorts too far.  Add a religious cult, some new clones and characters that seem to switch sides back and forth, and the conspiracies continue.

It’s hard not to explain why some of the payoffs are so good without ruining the surprise, but Sarah’s checkered past brings back some of her criminal cohorts once, twice and then three times.  The clones all have monitors and whether or not they are on the side of the clones is part of the fun of watching.  But make no mistake, Tatiana Maslany is the star and her transformation from good clone to bad clone to clone that transforms is pretty amazing.

Binge Watchability:  Excellent.  The cliffhangers lead one into the other and I found myself pretty anxious to play the next episode to see what happened.  Most the moments felt very genuine and human and only rarely does the show get caught up in it’s own plot.  With Tatiana playing all the major roles, the show’s producers have a big enough bandwidth to keep side characters on deck and bring them back only when it’s logical to do so.

Unlike a lot of American shows where the characters just seem to fallback onto the status quo, Orphan Black changes.  Although the bigger conspiracy is always on the fringe, the dynamic of the various characters changes up nicely.  My prediction is that the conspiracy can only go so far.  There was a big reveal at the end of Season 2 that will definitely breathe some life into the conspiracy, but I predict that it should end by season 4, 5 max.  But hey, the writing is crisp and the show is fun.  Maybe they can sustain it longer.  But this is definitely a show you should binge.

I give Orphan Black 9 out of 10 keggers.