Email Roundtable #28 – Orphan Black

Orphan BlackThis week on the roundtable we continue with our Summer Television Secret Santa. Kerri gifted the Canadian sci-fi show, Orphan Black, to Katie. Below is their conversation about the show.

Kerri: Can I be a total pain in the butt and ask you to give our readers a brief summary of the show?

Katie: Orphan Black is a hour-long sci-fi drama that revolves around the steely and smart small time crook, Sarah Manning. When Sarah discovers a woman who looks exactly like her, Sarah’s world and identity is altered forever.

Kerri: Let’s start where you started with Jane. Do you have any initial thoughts?

Katie: From the first episode I thought it was a super fun show. Tatiana Maslany, the lead, is incredible. Are we doing spoilers? Because I could go on and on about Tatiana Maslany, but won’t if we aren’t spoiling anything for our readers.

Kerri: We have to do spoilers, I think. There is no way to properly discuss this show without them. So, please, please, go on!

Katie: Spoilers a’hoy.

Tatiana Maslany does such a flawless job of playing what, 8 characters? I would go for episodes at a time and forget that she is playing pretty much everyone. That is a credit first and foremost to her acting skills, but also to the camera/special effects people. Without flawless, invisible SFX, the show could get very distracting and unpleasant.

Kerri: I read that it takes a ridiculous amount of time for them to do the scenes where Maslany is playing multiple characters, which is why there are so few of them. Maslany is absolutely amazing but, you’re right, lots of credit HAS to go to the technical geniuses that make the show. How much of the clone thing before you started? It was essentially spoiled for me but it actually didn’t bother me much. There is a much deeper and continuing mystery that remains pretty much unsolved so that was enough for me.

Katie: I knew the word “clone” was associated with the show, so I guess the main mystery was spoiled for me. It didn’t matter all that much though, as watching Sarah try to figure out her world is such fun.

Kerri: I think that Sarah’s ability to figure out her world, as you say, and use her incredible smarts to adapt to situations was one of my favourite things about the show.

Katie: As you guessed when you recommended the show to me, I did not care for the police portions of the show. After watching The Wire all police shows are ruined for me, so it’s not Orphan Black‘s fault entirely that I didn’t like the police stuff, but there were too many leaps in logic for my taste. I’m pretty sure a cop who suddenly has no idea how to be a cop would get noticed.

Kerri: I’m glad you mentioned the cop subplot. I found it to bog down what is otherwise a pretty fun show. I guess the cop subplot is necessary to the show now that it has been introduced but it was always the least exciting part of the show for me.

Katie: I thought the weakest secondary characters were the police officers. Just saying. They sucked.

Kerri: The police officers were absolutely the weakest secondary characters except, I’d say, for Big Dick Paul. More on him later.

Which of the Maslany “clones” is your favourite?

Katie: My favourite clone (besides Sarah) is definitely Alison. She’s just a kooky lady with a stick up her butt and I find it hilarious. And doesn’t Alison look somehow fitter than the rest of the clones? Must be those yoga pants. Who is your favourite clone?

Kerri: I find it hard to pick a favourite clone. Sarah is obviously great and badass. I love myself some Alison and those yoga pants (you’re right, Alison must have a very strict workout regime). But I’m also a huge fan of Cosima and her general adorable geeky-ness. I also kinda grew to love Helena a little bit. I liked watching her eat jello. RIP Helena, you crazy, jello eating, self mutilating bastard. She was so good with children.

Katie: Helena, you hungry monkey, you will be missed.

[I knew your favourite clone was going to be Cosima, Kerri. She’s so awesome and Kerri-ish.]

Kerri: Fuck yeah, Cosima is AWESOME. And I don’t care what any one says, I loved her little love affair with Delphine. I also loved Maslany’s reading of the line, “it showed”. Ouch.

Katie: Cosima rules. All the clones are bad-asses.

Going back to another point you made in your intro to the show, Kerri, I did not notice any lack in production quality due to Orphan Black being a Canadian show. I saw a Canadian twenty at one point but that was about it.

Kerri: I’m glad you weren’t bothered by that, Katie. It didn’t bother me at all either but I’ve heard people on the internet discuss it, saying that it was an issue for them.

Thinking about the further mystery of the show: the patenting of the clones and the reveal of Sarah and Helena’s mother, whatever the connection is between Mrs. S and Leekie, the new clone that we meet at the end of season 1, is any of this enough to hold your interest? i.e., will you watch season 2?

Katie: YES. Of course I will keep watching. What I love most about the show is that the plot is complex, but the character motivations are easy to understand. It’s surprising and satisfying and a lot of fun.

Kerri: That’s exactly what I was getting at, Katie. It isn’t actually the mystery or the plot that interests me so much as the way the characters react to those mysteries. I’m not so nerdy that I get excited over the quasi-science or “mythology” as it were. It’s much more about the deeply human way the show deals with those things. I like that there are as many “quiet” moments, like the ones in Felix’s apartment or Mrs. S’ dining room, as bombastic ones.

Alright, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Big. Dick. Paul.

Katie: Big Dick Paul is so pathetic. He falls in love based solely on two rounds of good sex. Also, come on dude. That one scene where he is sniffing her arm to show affection? What are you Paul? A dog? A big dick dog?

But in all seriousness, Paul better have a damn good back story brewing for season 2 or he should be shucked like a husk of corn, or the Beth shot a civilian storyline.

Kerri: Goddammit, Big Dick Paul is the least enjoyable boyfriend in all of history. At this point, he’s basically Vic 2.0 without the tattoos, in that he comes around unannounced to tell Sarah something that she doesn’t want to hear. GO AWAY BDP!!! Also, my god, has there ever been a more stiff actor in all of television?

What we know of Paul: he was in the military. Is swayed easily by awesome sex. Has the range of a mothball.

Katie: More Felix, less BDP.

Kerri: I agree. Speaking of Felix. What are your thoughts on him and the “gay best friend” trope as a whole?

Katie: Can I veto this question? I don’t have an intelligent answer for it. I mean, it was obvious what the writers were going for, but it seemed like the actor said fuck it, I’m going to make this character work.

Kerri: I seriously love that answer. That’s, like, perfection.

Everyone knows that I hate predicting television shows, mostly because I am extraordinarily bad at it. I feel like you have a good track record for this kind of stuff so what are your predictions for Season 2?

Katie: Predictions for Season 2, eh? That’s a tough one. I don’t watch much sci-fi-y stuff, so I don’t get any help there. But I have a good feeling that Sarah will find Kira. Kira has a good set of instincts and won’t be easily swayed by the evil scientists. We meet another European clone. Also, I think that Cosima starts some double agent work.

Kerri: Was there anything else, aside from the police investigation subplot, that you weren’t too keen on?

Katie: Well we’ve discussed our disappointment in BDP and the police officers already. There wasn’t too much else that rubbed me the wrong way. The spirit of the show is so much fun that they can get away with a lot. (I’m thinking specifically of those glue gun chest burns. YUCK!)

Anything else that you didn’t like?

Kerri: As much as I loved Helena as a curiosity, I thought the decision to get her out of the picture was the correct one. I’m not sure I could have taken much more of that. Same goes for Olivier and his tail.

Katie: I’m glad they don’t make too much of a point of discussing the science of cloning. That being said, I’m also glad they have Cosima doing all the explaining, because I could listen to her discuss anything.

Kerri: Oh, me too. ME TOO.

Well, Katie, this has been fun. I am so glad you liked the show and will continue to watch beyond what I forced on you.

BUT because Orphan Black is truly the gift that keeps on giving, I have three other small gifts for you:

1. Did you know that the actor that played Leekie is the same guy that played Max Headroom? (you may be too young to be amazed by this, but I was).

2. Tatiana Maslany is so awesome at acting and, I assume, everything else. She’s from Regina (I feel a kinship to prairie girls) and she makes mix tapes for each of her characters. Because you like Alison so much, here is the playlist Maslany made for her.

3. Maslany is going to be on Parks and Recreation (!!!!!!) next season.

Katie: Wow! Thanks Kerri! You are the best TV Santa ever.

One thought on “Email Roundtable #28 – Orphan Black

  1. Pingback: Email Roundtable #38 – Best (and Worst) of 2013 – Part 2 | The Golden Age of Television

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