This is high-concept sci-fi that’s so high the longer it goes on the more chance it can fall apart. So creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett need to keep us on our toes constantly, or just end it while it’s on a high. Dragging the concept for many seasons will inevitably end with too many credibility-breaking moments threatening to ruin this special gem.
The concept itself is this: Sarah (Tatiana Matsly) is a rebellious young woman on the metaphorical wrong side of the tracks, and one day watches a woman who looks identical to her literally jump in front of a train. Sarah soon discovers she’s one of a number of clones living their own lives oblivious to their own origins.
As Sarah is rebellious and out of cash, she does the normal thing and swipes the dead woman’s bag, finds where she lives, figures out how to empty her bank account and basically take over her life to avoid troubles in her own. The more she embeds herself in the dead clone’s life, the more weird things get until she’s trapped and struggling to keep ahead of trouble.
It’s brilliant, addictive and thought-provoking stuff with a mean sense of humour about it. Aided by her wise-cracking foster-brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris), chased by her ex-boyfriend Vic (the insanely intense Michael Mando who also played the villain Vaas in Far Cry 3), Sarah finds herself in a web of conspiracy and brushing up against her clones who all have widely different personalities due to the different environments they all grew up in.
You’ve got an uptight soccer mum, a wacky German, and more which I will refrain from discussing to keep your viewing fresh and unspoiled. Suffice to say Tatiana gives a mind-blowing performance as multiple versions of herself, all with their own quirks, accents, personalities, and body language. Often you will forget you’re watching the same actress, she is that good. She deserves every acting award out there, making her job look easy, when no doubt it is not at all.
Orphan Black is a sci-fi Hitchcockian thriller filmed on what looks like a relatively low budget, but is packed with rich material for a hungry audience to feed off. The first season is essential viewing on how to deliver a mystery with pay-offs. No doubt fans of genre-defining Lost will appreciate this, though this time they can expect tons of immediate satisfaction. Orphan Black is no clone, but its own unique thing.