REVIEW: Orphan Black Season 1

BBC America's Orphan Black is a Canadian series created by Graeme Manson & John Fawcett, which just finished its run last week, and if you've never heard of it (which was me until about two weeks ago) I am highly recommending it- find it, and watch all ten episodes now, because boy am I hooked.

Tatiana Maslany plays Sara Manning, a troubled orphan with a rap sheet, who returns home to Toronto after a year's absence, only to stumble across her doppelganger on a train station before said doppelganger jumps off the platform and kill herself in front of her. Don't worry, this happens in the first five minutes of the first episode and serves as the jumping off point to the show, so I haven't spoiled anything yet. The event serves as the catalyst to a web of cloning conspiracy that Sara finds herself caught in the middle of, and every episode of this first season was in equal parts entertaining, creepy, funny and suspenseful, with an absolutely fantastic performance in the title role. The show plots its surprises and revelations to unfold at perfect intervals, while never sidestepping the intersecting personal lives and emotional turmoil of each character targeted by the nefarious villains in the shadows and at the heart of the conspiracy.

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But a show with this setup depends on the star's ability to play multiple versions of herself, and i really can't say enough about Tatiana Maslany here, who has the opportunity to create at least 5 fully distinct characters with different accents, manners, attitudes and styles, and interact with several of those people simultaneously, even occasionally impersonating someone who's actually impersonating someone else. As hard as that would seem to pull off, she completely knocks it out of the park in a way that would grab the attention of every awards body if this show was on any network besides BBC America. But since it is, and also since it's part of a sci-fi genre that's routinely ignored, I won't count on that to happen- but trust me, this is the best performance I've seen on TV all year- she'd be a breakout star if this was on ABC or FOX. So check out Orphan Black, it's addictive- Season 2 comes back in Spring 2014 and I've already marked my calendar.

Grade: A

Here's the trailer: