Orphan Black

Orphan Black is the best thing on TV right now. Season 1 just ended, and you should watch it immediately. But, do everything you can to avoid learning anything about it first! Here, just watch the first three minutes of the first episode. That should tell you everything you need to know to get sucked in:

One actress is playing multiple roles, and she does a really good job characterizing them as completely different people. Not quite as good as Toni Collette did in United States of Tara, but in that ballpark.

Once you've gotten to episode 3 or 4, it's probably safe to read about it:

Tatiana Maslany discusses all her roles:

Just technically speaking, how do you film one of these scenes, when there's three or four versions of you in the same space?

TM: It takes, like, 12 hours. [Laughs.] It's the most technically ridiculous time of my life. We have a camera that's called the technodolly, which basically memorizes a camera move internally, so that it does the same thing every time, which is awesome, so we don't always have to just do a lock-off shot, where it's just, like, two people standing in the same shot. The camera actually moves, and I think it really sells it. So the first pass we do to memorize the camera move, we use doubles in place of the other characters that I'm talking to. Then, once we have that, they leave, and I start to do it for real, just to eyelines, with an earwig [earpiece], which is saying the other lines, so the rhythm is the same. Then once we get a perfect take of that, I leave and come back as the next character and then shoot it from the other side. Now, I'm having to remember where the eyelines were, where I was before, when I stood up, how high I stood up, or how close I came, or if I handed myself a bottle of pills or something. It's heavily technical and probably the most challenging thing I've ever done on screen.

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30 Responses:

  1. volk007 says:

    Speaking of british shows, have you seen Utopia? I liked it quite a bit.

    • jwz says:

      Yes, I loved it!

      • nooj says:

        Have either of you read Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge? 2007 Hugo for best Novel. If you're not hooked after reading the prologue, toss it.

        • Pavel Lishin says:

          I read it. The prologue looked interesting, but the book was kind of boring afterwards.

        • volk007 says:

          Thanks for rec, gonna check it out.

        • Jon says:

          Read it a while ago. Curious why it relates to "Utopia", having watched that more recently than reading the book I can't recall a connection.

          • nooj says:

            first and foremost, DNA/viral manipulation. second, Mr. Rabbit! third, parts.

            bonuses: the best classic virtual reality scenarios you've ever read, unfrozen cavemen (ie, old-school hackers who constantly outperform newer hardware and software technology), fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...

            • Jon says:

              Oh I see.

              If you enjoyed "Rainbow's End" you should track down the two short fiction stories set in the same Universe: "Fast Times at Fairmont High" which is in one of his short fiction comps and "Synthetic Serendipity". Personally I preferred them to the eventual novel. However, the cream of Vinge short fiction is, IMHO, The Cookie Monster, where Cookie means web cookie.

            • nooj says:

              and i suppose the most important one is population control.

        • jwz says:

          Everything by Vinge is great.

    • Jon says:

      I can assure you this isn't a British show.

      • volk007 says:

        You know, I actually considered writing "Speaking of shows produced by British-owned networks", exactly because of people like you, but decided that it was unnecessary and sanity would prevail.

        • Jon says:

          Normally I'd let things like this slide but it's so not a British show I felt it needed pointing out.

    • jwz says:

      I like to think that the comic they're reading in Utopia is actually The Invisibles.

  2. nooj says:

    Amazing! I do like a great opening. Is blondie the love slave of H.R. Geiger? Ew.

    This is even better than Black Mirror. "White Bear" was a great episode, and I liked what they did with "Be Right Back." (The pilot was the best by far, tho.)

    • nooj says:

      Okay, so apparently blondie has no relation to H.R. Geiger. Who knew.

      The more science and industry there is, the more I'm having trouble believing it. "Neolution" is a human right? I can't say that word with a straight face. (I can't say the other one, either, "Paleolithic" or whatever. At least it's better than "Unobtainium.")

      What kind of a finale was that?! It's like they expect a Season 2!

      Is that...is that...dazzle on that ship?

      You're right, the actress did a great job depicting the different roles. The characters having radically different backgrounds, motivations, accents, and clothing styles make them a lot easier to tell apart. I really believe they're different characters! I really wanted her to grab Allison's water glass!

      The, uh, "cat-dude"'s storyline sure was limited! Talk about a budget writing a plot. Anyway, I assume there will there be more of that stuff, keeping us guessing which fringe sub-group is the real bad guy.

      I kind of love Vic. Such an innocent fuckup. Stephen King approves of his losses.

  3. IvyMike says:

    Due to the typo in the URL I will now think of this show as Orpan Black from now on.

    • jwz says:

      Dammit, I thought I fixed that like 2 seconds after I posted. Apparently WP makes you hit two separate "Save" buttons to change that.

  4. nooj says:

    Anyone have any opinions on Two Fingers?

  5. nooj says:

    Look out, girls!

    A New Mexico man stabbed, severely beat and kidnapped his mother and threw her off a bridge into the Rio Grande in broad daylight after he said he heard voices coming through the television telling him to "get the clones out."

  6. ducksauz says:

    Thanks for the tip! Hadn't heard about this. Just watched the first two episodes and agree that this is fantastic. In return, I'd like to recommend Continuum. Season 1 is available on Netflix and season 2 starts soon on SyFy or just grab it from your usual sources, as season 2 is already halfway done airing in Canada.

  7. Jon says:

    I take your recommendations seriously, so I'm pushing hard through the atrocious British accents. I thought she was Australian for the first two episodes.

  8. Kingfox says:

    Spoilers for the first season:

    I'm betting that Helena's still alive. We've seen her survive some rebar through the side, her twin's daughter miraculously survived a car accident.

    I'm also guessing that the main point of the Neolutionist experiments isn't the cloning - it's the neolution of the clones, using them as a baseline for the alterations. Sarah/Helena's regeneration, whatever modifications the others have (maybe Cosima's larger breasts according to Felix). Rachel, corporate clone in the tower, then acts as a control group.

    • nooj says:

      i'm betting Beth was replaced by another copy three months before the first episode. THAT Beth was an impostor like Sarah. They make allusions to this: Sarah never filed anything, period; but Officer whats-her-face says Beth's filings were atrocious. And Art says she changed around the time of the civilian shooting. And Paul says they hadn't done X (fucked like rabbits, talked much) in months.

    • nooj says:

      Sarah has a working uterus and possibly regeneration. Cosima has tits and lesbianism. What's Allison's superpower(s)? Dissociation from the agony of others (Donnie, Aynsley)?

  9. anyfoo says:

    Mild spoilers ahead:

    I only watched the first two episodes by now, but I already love it. Especially how well they portrayed the soccer mom at the end of episode 2. The stuff she wears, the home trainers in the living room, the slices of orange, her mannerisms... that's really exactly how I picture a soccer mom. And then, in the very last scene, a completely different character comes ahead. Love it.