Tag Archives: Sarah

Orphan Black, season 2

tumblr_n2w6c7vKaA1rh0u2ko1_r3_500How ironic that I am moving to the UK and will no longer be able to see this BBC America show. Wait–is that irony? Alanis Morissette has completely ruined my ability to discern irony. Whether it’s ironic or not, it’s definitely annoying and stupid.  I really love this show. I think it’s a good show, and I think Tatiana Maslany is spectacular.  The fact that she hasn’t been nominated for an Emmy at this point is an actual crime.

There’s a scene where Sarah is handcuffed to a shower (happens to the best of us), and Helena appears with a massive knife.  I’ve never seen anyone look as afraid as Sarah does in this scene.

0Particularly when you consider the fact that a-the person she’s pretending to be afraid of is herself, and b-there was no one there to react to at the time. The Helena part was added afterward.

Season one ended with a focus on Sarah and Helena, who are apparently twins, born to the same surrogate mother. We also saw the inner workings of the Dyad Institute, including the clone-in-charge, Rachel.  Season two begins with Mrs. S and Kira gone, Cosima and Delphine ‘infiltrating’ the Dyad in order to learn more about the clone program. Alison is turning to drugs and alcohol to deal with the fact that she let her friend die–note to self, never run the garbage disposal while wearing a decorative scarf. Or any scarf, I suppose. Most disturbingly, Cosima is starting to show signs of the illness that killed Katja.  I swear, if they kill of Cosima I’m done. She’s my favorite.

Helena is a close second.  Helena is amazing.

timthumbShe goes through some shit this season. Kidnapped by a creepy Eugenics cult that seemed to combine the most horrifying parts of Mormonism and Nazi medical experiments.  Very very gross. Forced to wear horrible clothes out of Little House on the Prairie, and injected with (her own) eggs fertilized by the creepy prophet/cult leader.  Nope, nope, nope. On the upside, she gets to have a dance and a kiss with a guy in a bar, and she eats a lot of food.

The season focuses on a few things. Rachel, the uptight psycho who runs the Dyad Institute and treats herself and her fellow clones like subjects in a science experiment, but secretly harbors extreme anger over her loss of her parents, and her inability to have children. Major rage issues. The clones all learn more about themselves, both through Cosima’s work in the lab and by finding their ‘creator’, who also served as Rachel’s adoptive father, before he went into hiding. They (and we) learn that the clones are infertile by design (Sarah and Helena are the only known exceptions), and the respiratory problem (caused by tumors) can be treated with stem cells–from Kira.  We also meet Kira’s father, who looks and acts like Aiden from Sex and the City, but clearly has something to hide.  The question is, what did he know when he was dating Sarah?

I love all of the characters in this show, and I really enjoyed the plot. Shows like this have to walk a tightrope. Reveal too much and you lose audience interest. Reveal too little and you frustrate everyone (e.g., Lost).  Orphan Black does a great job answering questions and keeping interest.  You feel like you’re getting somewhere, even if the somewhere you’re getting is into deeper trouble for all the characters.

My only real complaint about the season is the same as everyone else’s, I think. Tony.

orphanblack_2x08_tonyLook, I have no issue with seeing transsexual characters on TV–it’s great for improving acceptance.  But this was not well done.  Tatiana Maslany didn’t do that bad of a job with the acting itself, but there were a few big issues.  One–the terrible pasted-on, barely-there facial hair.  No.  Do better.  The look overall, actually, was quite badly done in my opinion. Look at Boys Don’t Cry for better examples.  Actually, that terrible Amanda Bynes movie She’s the Man made a more believable male character.  Of course, Tony isn’t actually male (anatomically). He’s a pre-op transsexual, if memory serves.  He’s taking hormones, which would account for facial hair and a deeper voice. But I was thrown by the long hair and feminine eyebrows they retained.  But other than just the appearance, the writing of this character was not good.  He wasn’t likeable, and the pseudo-flirtation between him and Felix made me feel a bit gross, just because…Sarah is Felix’s adoptive brother and best friend, and this is basically Sarah’s twin.  I find it weird when people date their best friend’s family, particularly if they look similar.  Part of why Harry and Ginny bother me as a couple. The whole episode just made me unhappy and it broke the cognitive dissonance and left me cringing. I was also annoyed by his appearance, his possession of cryptic information, and then *poof*, he’s gone.  Annoying. I’m ready for him to never come back.

Setting us up for next season, they also introduced Marion. Marion is above Rachel in the Dyad Institute and whatever else they are connected with. I recognize the actress from her turn on True Blood, so I was all ‘Danger, Sarah Manning!’. She cannot be trusted.  Or killed, if she’s anything like her True Blood character.

Orphan-Black-210-Marion-Sarah-CharlotteCharlotte is the little girl in the foreground of this picture.  Marion tells us that, after hundreds of attempts, Charlotte is the only clone they’ve produced since the first batch.  Sarah’s face kind of says it all–imagine coming face to face with your 8-year-old self.

I’m going to have to figure out a way to watch this next year, because I really like it. It surprises and amuses me, and how often do both of those things happen in a TV show? That being said, I hope Tony only makes one more appearance, relaying a cryptic but important message before being tragically killed.

Advertisements

Copper, Season 2

Copper_S2_DVDThe second season of Copper ended last month, but I haven’t felt particularly excited to review it. The truth is, the show is just not exciting enough to talk about for an entire 500-word post.  But, if you were wondering whether you should watch it, I’m here to tell you you shouldn’t bother.

As season 2 opens, a lot is going on:

  • Corky has been reunited with Ellen (his wife), and they are living together with Annie (the Lolita from season 1), but things aren’t going well.  Ellen and Annie are both mentally disturbed, and their time together does nothing to improve either of them.
  • The 6th ward gets a new boss , Brendan Donovan. Corky likes him because he’s Irish, and he at least purports to want to bring order and justice to the seedy parts of town.
  • Copper-Blog-DonalRobert and Elizabeth are to be married, but Elizabeth is keeping the horrible secret that she was conspiring with Kennedy (the confederate traitor).
  • Dr. Freeman and Sara prepare to move back to 5 Points to confront their horrible memories of the race riots they endured, and so that Dr. Freeman can practice where his skills are needed

By the end of the season, a whole lot of shit has happened.  One of the women is dead, another is addicted to morphine, Lincoln has been assassinated, Sarah’s mother has been rescued from the deep South, Frances Maguire is reinstated as a detective after being cleared of all charges. Donovan proves to be formidable and despicable.  Dr. Freeman, Robert, and Corky are forced to remember and relive their horrible experiences in the war.

With all of this happening, you’d think the show would be truly compelling.  In trying to think about what has me so ‘meh’ about it, I can only land on the writing.  There’s little suspense, and emotional peaks and valleys for the characters are more like speed bumps.  Maybe it’s just the sheer number of characters we need to care about that makes it difficult, but…It’s almost as if the writers are afraid of being too climactic.  But this isn’t a Jonathon Franzen novel, it’s a TV show about an incredibly dramatic and violent time period.  They’re not afraid to show nudity and violence, but they do seem incapable of focusing on grief or tragedy or disgust in a quiet and overpowering way.  In the entire season, I never felt a strong emotional connection with the characters.  None of them.

Part of it is that we’ve all seen shows about the detective, obsessed with justice, willing to go to any length to see it done.  Luther comes to mind as a show where this is done perfectly.  But still, it’s a common trope.  If you’re going to make that the crux of your show, you have to do it in an unusual way, or do it unusually well.  I don’t think Copper accomplishes either thing.  And I think it’s got to be down to the writing. But I don’t know what goes into the directing, so maybe I’m not knowledgeable enough to point out the flaws there. I’ll let them share blame.

The show exists in a world where death is nearly constant, so I think it’s inability to show grief is what bothered me most. They devote almost an entire episode to the funeral/wake for Corky’s wife.  She’s been mentally ill, she was pregnant (did we ever find out who the father was?!), and then she killed herself.  What a better writer could do with all of that…but for all that happened, it’s as if she just died in her sleep one night after a peaceful life.  Death is something that (in my opinion) you can’t pretend you’ve experienced if you haven’t.  It seemed to me, watching this episode, that the people involved with it either had never experienced true grief, or were desperately pretending they hadn’t.  It didn’t ring true at all. Real grief, especially at an unexpected loss, involves a fair amount of numbness, of shock and inaction.  There should be anger, in this situation there should also be relief. And then more anger. But it was just flat, a flat grief that I have never experienced in my life.

I just read that the show won’t be returning for a third season.  Obviously I’m not terribly disappointed; I wasn’t going to be turning in either way.  On the other hand, I feel like it should be common practice for networks to either a-let showrunners know in time for the last episode to be a true finale or b-give the show one last episode, maybe during the summer, to create some closure.  I despise leaving a show behind on an open-ended episode.

The show had some compelling characters–I imagine this is down to the actors who played them–but they were never given enough to do.  I rooted for Corky, as I was meant to. I liked Robert and Eva.  Dr. Freeman is a tough one; he was presented as such a paragon that it’s difficult to take him seriously as a character.  But I liked him too.  These likeable characters were always bogged down by such tiresome secondary characters and plot lines that I never felt I had time to appreciate them in the show.  In fact, a lot of them are likeable because they are around such unsavory (or worse, boring) characters.

The whole season was just–and I feel terribly harsh for saying it–a waste of time.

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming TV highlights

There are a whole score of new and returning shows on TV this month and next. I thought it might be a good time to discuss them.

First of all, the end of March marked the return of Doctor Who!

The Doctor and OswinAnd there’s a new outfit, a new TARDIS, and a new companion.  If you watched season 7, you already know Oswin.  Can I say already that I love her?  I love her.  She is super smart, she is a conundrum, and she is simultaneously friendly, playful, and not afraid to stand up to the Doctor.  Add to the wonderfulness of her character, she is a real enigma.  The Doctor doesn’t understand her, and he finds anything he doesn’t understand really mesmerizing.  It’s a totally different dynamic than the big brother relationship he had with Amy and Rory.  And I really like his new coat.  I feel like maybe I’m getting my expectations up too high.  Last season was a little disappointing for me, and I don’t want to get too excited and then be disappointed again. But…it’s probably too late.  I’ve seen the first episode and I really liked it, and I love their dynamic, and I’m really excited for what’s coming next.  Dr. Who is on BBC America on Saturday nights at 8 Eastern.

Orphan Black bannerPremiering that same night was the new series,  Orphan Black. Although this is on BBC America, it doesn’t actually seem to be a British show. It is set in Canada, I believe, though it is never explicitly stated.  The ‘main’ character, Sarah, is British, as is her best friend Paul.  Only the actors aren’t actually British, but whatever.  The show seems interesting; I haven’t made my mind up about it yet.  It begins with Sarah (a woman with questionable morals and a shady background) seeing a woman, Beth, who looks exactly like her, jump in front of a train.  She takes over Beth’s seemingly swanky life (wasn’t this the plot to that Sarah Michelle Gellar show, Ringer?), mostly based on the fact that the woman had money and nice clothes.  Remind me to never take over my dead clone’s life based on her clothing quality, because it just doesn’t turn out well.  She has to get to know Beth’s boyfriend (including possibly the most graphic sex scene I’ve ever seen on a non-premium channel), deal with a police inquest over a shooting in the line of duty (oh, Beth was a cop?) and a mysterious safety deposit box full of birth certificates.  Sarah proves herself to be pretty stupid in this first episode.  Her goal is to get her daughter back from whomever is caring for her, and to start a new life.  Her first plan is to steal heroin from her ex and sell it for $20k.  Her next plan is to have her best friend identify Beth’s mangled body as Sarah, and steal all of Beth’s savings.  It never occurs to her that her daughter might find out that Sarah has been declared dead, but of course that is what happens.  She seems to really lack the ability to think about consequences, but we know very little about her back story, except that she is an orphan.

This show is iffy.  Could turn out well, could be implausible and ridiculous.  I’m going to give it a few more episodes before I make a verdict.  It’s on after Doctor Who, Saturdays on BBC America at 9 Eastern.

Mr. SelfridgeThe last weekend in March was a big one for me! Also premiering, on PBS this time, was Mr. Selfridge, a proper British period drama about Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of the eponymous store on Oxford Street.  I had no idea he was American, but apparently he emigrated from Chicago to open the world’s best department store in London.  It just finished airing in England, so kudos to PBS for getting it over here in less than 6 months.  They’re getting better!

Jeremy Piven plays a non-douchebag, which I didn’t approve of at first.  Have they seen Entourage?  I haven’t, I’ll admit, but his suits were too shiny for me to see him as a non-douche.  Right? Look at this picture and then argue with me:

Ari Gold

So, I’ll reiterate that I wasn’t sure about all this, but Jeremy Piven is really good!  It helps that the character is bombastic and grandiose. He needs to act that way because, as we learn in the very first episode, he is in deep trouble with money.  He needs a lot of money, press, and publicity to make his store a hit, so he has to be more confident than he is.

The show follows Mr. Selfridge, obviously, but it is also a Downton-esque ensemble cast of high- and low-class characters. There are: his wife, who meets a (very) handsome artist at the National Gallery; the shopgirl Agnes Towler who works in the accessories department and her struggles with her brother, her father, and her suitor; other employees in the store both friendly and not; Miss Love, the actress and potential mistress for Mr. Selfridge; ruthless investors in the store; and I’m sure there will be more in later episodes.

There were a lot of interesting dynamics between classes, like any British drama worth its name.  Add to that, the genuinely interesting concept of the first true department store.  Most shops prior to this time period, especially in England, did not have displays as we do now.  There were counters, and you would go up and ask to see a specific type of glove or hat, etc.  Or, if you were wealthy, you would have a dressmaker, milliner, etc., come to your house for a fitting in your own home.  The art and hobby of shopping wasn’t the same.  Ready-to-wear clothing wasn’t the same, either.  So seeing this revolution happen in the show is intriguing.  I found the first episode really entertaining and cannot wait for the next episode.  Hopefully the quality stays the same throughout.  My only complaint is that in the intro on PBS, Laura Linney was talking about the show and described it using the following words about Mr. Selfridge: “He was the first person to know what women really want.  They want to go shopping.”

Oh, Laura Linney.  Why?  Why would you say that? Who wrote that?  Blech.

The Spies of WarsawAttention all Doctor Who fans! David Tennant is returning to our TV screens!  For a limited time only!  This is a two-part mini-series on BBC America, about a WWII era spy.  It begins in 1937, in Poland, France, and Germany.  David Tennant stars as Col. Mercier, a French ‘military attaché stationed in Poland. He alone sees the war coming, where his comrades don’t want to admit what is happening in Europe.  I don’t know much about the plot yet, but the NY Times called describes it almost as a whodunnit, more like a Christie novel than Casablanca, which it seems to want to be.  There is a love triangle, but the upcoming War is the real story of the mini-series.  Also according to the Times, despite the weaknesses in Spies of Warsaw, “there is nothing more satisfying than a prewar espionage story that shows, up close and told-you-so, how most of Europe slept through Hitler’s rise.”

It’s playing on BBC America on April 3rd and 10th, but I’m quite certain they will replay it several times over the next month or two.

Although I didn’t watch it, I should mention that the second season of Call the Midwife also premiered at the end of March. It airs every Sunday night on PBS, and is also available on their website.

Also coming soon on PBS is something I’m really excited to see: The Bletchley Circle

The Bletchley CircleThis aired last year in the UK.  Set in 1952, it follows four women who worked as code breakers at Bletchley Park (the main center for decryption/codebreaking in the UK during WWII).  If that wasn’t bad ass enough, it’s also a murder mystery. Police are overlooking a pattern in the killings, but these code-breaking badass ladies in their cardigans are smart enough to see it. It’s only a 3 part mini-series, but it sounds awesome. I love to see women in period pieces that have more to do than just swoon and get married.  The Bletchley Circle premieres on PBS on April 21st.

Looks like it’s going to be a great spring for us anglophiles!