Tag Archives: Tatiana Maslany

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.

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Upcoming British TV

It’s that time of year again!  Time for Christmas specials, followed closely by new premieres in 2014!  We’ve got a lot to look forward to in the coming months.

First, there is the Christmas special for Doctor Who

Doctor Who, Christmas Special 2013 - Artwork: Jenna-Louise Coleman and Matt SmithThe Time of the Doctor  (Christmas Day in the UK and US) will mark the end of Matt Smith’s run and the beginning of Peter Capaldi as our 12th incarnation of the eponymous Doctor.  As happens every time there is a regeneration, I am dreading it, but know that the new Doctor will win me over pretty quickly.  It happened with 10 and with 11, so I have faith that 12 will be just as good.  Okay, no one is actually as good as David Tennant, but they do try…

The Downton Abbey Christmas special will play on Christmas Day in the UK, but the US will have to wait a few months–we haven’t even aired season 4 yet.  Season 4 premieres on PBS January 5th. So the Christmas Special will air sometime in February or March.  Festive.  I am looking forward to it because we finally get to see Paul Giamatti as Cora’s rakish, financially-irresponsible brother

downton-abbey-christmas-special-2013

I also notice Edith missing from this picture.  I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t seen season 4, but I’ve got a guess where she is…

One week after Christmas is (to me) the most important premiere of the last several years.  Sherlock (series 3) premieres on Jan 1st in the UK, January 19th in the US (again on PBS).

sherlock_series_3_fan_poster_2_by_crqsf-d52873pI’m almost done with my re-watch of the first two series.  I just have the heinously painful, ugly-cry-inducing Reichenbach Fall. And then there will finally be new episodes! There’s rumor of a mini-episode premiering on Christmas Day (on BBC 1) that acts as a sort of prequel to Series 3. (Here’s hoping I can find it online).  The proper episodes run January 1st, 5th, and 12th in the UK.

A boatload of new shows and season premieres are slated for Spring 2014 here in the US.

Fleming-The Man Who Would Be Bond is a BBC America look at Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.  It stars Dominic Cooper as Fleming, and looks like a combination between The Hours and Mad Men.

460x300_flemingThat’s Lara Pulver (aka Irene Adler) as the proto-Bond girl, Ann O’Neill.  I’ll withhold judgment on this one–I’m not a big fan of Bond, but I’ll give it a try. It premieres January 29th.

Despite being (rudely) cancelled after its second series/season in the UK, Ripper Street will get a full second season airing in the US.  I’ve already heard that the ‘finale’ wasn’t very rewarding, because the showrunners didn’t know (or didn’t know early enough) about the show’s fate.  Season 2 premieres on BBC America in February (no fixed date yet, that I’ve seen).

March 30th will be a big day for PBS viewing.  Call the Midwife AND Mr. Selfridge return for their 3rd and 2nd seasons, respectively. Here’s a trailer for Mr. Selfridge:

April 13th sees season 2 of The Bletchley Circle premiere on PBS.  It premieres much earlier (January 6th) in the UK.

Shortly after, on April 19th, Orphan Black finally returns on BBC America.

There are several other shows without announced premiere dates, but we know are coming soon.

The Musketeers–a BBC America show, taking place in 17th century Paris. The (four) Musketeers are all hot young men in this incarnation of the classic story. I’ll give it a try, though I’m not really one to go for men with feathers in their hats. The BBC America website says ‘Coming in 2014’, so this one could be a while.

Similarly, they’re very vague on the dates for a few other shows.  In the Flesh is definitely going to have a second season/series, but all the info they give is ‘Spring 2014’.  I would guess March or April.

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan is already filming season 2, with special guest star and fellow hobbit, Billy Boyd.  No release date for that one either, but I’m guessing late Spring/early Summer, based on my zero expertise.

It’s going to be a busy season of TV watching this Spring!

Orphan Black

Orphan Black bannerOrphan Black premiered on BBC America in March, and the season finale was earlier this month.  Rumor has it the show will air on BBC 3 in the UK, but no air date yet. A second season is coming next May.

The show, as we quickly realize from the trailer, is about clones. Tatiana Maslany plays almost all the characters in the show, all different versions of the same genetically engineered person. We start with Sarah, the main character.  She is a bad-ass Brit, has an excellent collection of Clash t-shirts, and terrible taste in men.  She witnesses the suicide of her doppleganger, Beth, a homicide detective.  HelenaCosimaLater, we meet Helena, a religious crazy person, Allison, an uptight soccer mom, and Cosima, a lesbian pot-smoking evolutionary biologist.  Of course, all of these are played by Maslany.  She detailed her process of getting into character in a few interviews.  She created separate playlists for each character, and would listen to that playlist before each scene.  For the first two or three episodes, I was acutely aware that this was all the same actress, but by the end of the series I just thought of them as completely and wholly different characters, as real and diverse as any other non-Maslany character in the show.  Still, when you look back and think about it, it is an amazing bit of acting.  More confusing when you think of Maslany playing Sarah pretending to be Beth.  At one point Helena pretends to be Sarah, but we could tell before the reveal, because of the look in her eyes.  Amazing bit of acting.  And think of all the time, during scenes like this:

three maslanys

when she was just acting to nothingness, and had to respond to nothingness later on. Acting into a vacuum.  Reacting to a future or past performance she herself had given/would be giving.  She is pretty amazing.  Also, she makes me want to hit the gym for the rest of my life.

So, the plot.  Sarah sees Beth commit suicide and makes the split-second decision to pretend to be Beth.  She stays at her apartment and makes use of her car and cash (and boyfriend).  All this is a terrible decision and Sarah doesn’t really think of the consequences, even when the dead body on the train tracks is identified as ‘Sarah Manning’, instead of ‘Beth Childs’.  She does it to avoid a stupid no good boyfriend, who she punched and from whom she stole 20k worth of drugs.  Brilliant move, Sarah.

The only person she can rely on is her foster-brother (they’re both orphans) Felix, who is awesome. FelixSeriously, though, if this guy is in on the conspiracy, I’m going to be really upset. The writers come up with a lot of reasons for Felix to end up in suburbia, interacting with suburbanites, and those might be my favorite moments of the show.

Sarah finds out she’s one of many clones pretty early on in the show, and she also finds out that someone is killing her fellow ‘sisters’.  Things get pretty dramatic pretty quickly.  We meet other clones, and the three main surviving girls (Allison, Cosima, Sarah) work to find out who has done this to them and how deep it goes.

Part of what is built into this show is not knowing who to trust.  Each of the clones has a ‘watcher’, someone in cahoots with the people who created them.  There are medical tests, conducted while the girls are asleep.  Lots of speculation on who is watching whom, and who works for whom.  I won’t give anything away.

Add to that, at least 1 of the clones is sick with some genetic tuberculosis type disease, and, oh yeah, there’s someone murdering them.  These girls don’t have easy lives.

The show isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I really enjoyed seeing what was going to happen next.  I found it got a lot better toward the end of the season. Part of this was due to Sarah no longer acting like a lone wolf and starting to be invested in the fates of her ‘sisters’.  I’ve enjoyed the progression of all of the characters over the course of the season, and it gives me a feeling that the show-runners know what they’re doing.  Hopefully, anyway.

Occasionally, I get a little irritated with the show when people are making obviously stupid mistakes for no discernible reason.  Really, you’re going to walk into the street without looking?   You’re going to let someone die with no proof that they are what you think they are? You’re going to leave your important secret files just laying around while entertaining a potential enemy? You allowed the government to declare you dead and didn’t think your family might find out?

Jennifer-Lawrence-ok-thumbs-up

Why are characters on TV so stupid sometimes?  Those moments made me really irritated and very unsympathetic.  Sometimes, if you’re going to run out into the road, you’re going to get hit by a car.  If you’re a fictional character, I get to judge you and think you’re stupid.

Other than these moments of glaring stupidity (maybe this stupidity is written into their DNA?), I enjoyed all the characters and the story arc.  I’m looking forward to the next season immensely.  Half of the fun is just watching Tatiana Maslany work, but it’s a lot of fun, so I’m fine with that.