Sunday, July 3, 2016

Orphan Black

With most of the Bear's creative apparatus and time devoted to another, quite exciting, project, Deep Thoughts will have to wait.

The Bear realizes that Game of Thrones, The Americans,  Better Call SaulRipper Street, Peaky Blinders, The Last Ship, Humans, Occupied, The Man in the High Castle and Orphan Black, in short, all his favorite shows, are every one in between seasons. (Dickensian looks interesting, although it only got one season from BBC.)  There's still old episodes of Nurse Jackie, to which the Bear is addicted (ha). The Bear remembers watching the old Poldark on Masterpiece Theater, but the new one has chick flick written all over it.  Outlander did not pique the Bear's interest for some reason (possibly the same reaction as to the new Poldark).  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Agent Carter are good, but you have to be in a certain mood.

Orphan Black: 5 Out of 5 Fish

Possibly the very best show in production today is Orphan Black.  It is a Canadian series that is difficult to say much about without spoiling things.  The acting is top-notch. Tatiana Maslany stars in multiple roles.  Part of the fun is how easily you forget that these are not different actresses.  Each of characters is well drawn and distinct, ranging from soccer mom to brainiac, to good-hearted Russian killer, to dim-witted cosmetologist.  It's a hoot.  Tatiana Maslany should get whatever the world-wide equivalent of Best Actress Forever Emmy is.

The writing is mostly very good on an episode-by-episode basis, although the plot is so convoluted, whole storylines are dropped unceremoniously.  Since they are usually followed by even better storylines, that is not a problem unless you deliberately think, "what ever happened with...?"  The Bear guesses we are supposed to be penetrating ever deeper into more central mysteries.  That is possibly the weakest part of the show, however.  Like LOST, there is the feeling that the writers are making all this up on the fly, and the season before last's major plot point is down the memory hole today.

Fortunately, the Bear couldn't care less about the rival conspiracies within conspiracies.  The fun is in watching a wonderfully entertaining cast dealing with problems from infiltrating fertility clinics to having DNA-altering grubs implanted into them.  The writing is quirky, geeky, original and surprising.  There are darkly humorous elements worthy of Breaking Bad.

There are the occasional clunkers.  If the Bear were human, he would not forgetfully lay down his pistol in the presence of someone sworn to kill him.  We often see that sort of thing in shows, where the good guy simply shooting the bad guy would easily, and prematurely terminate a storyline.  So, smart characters go stupid. There has to be a better way.

(The Bear is still bitter over Better Call Saul's boring and unsatisfying season finale. With Breaking Bad's best supporting characters to work with, season two was a real disappointment.)

But most of the writing in Orphan Black is very good, adroitly mixing drama, conspiracy, thriller, and humor.

It starts out as a fairly conventional mystery.  English grifter Sarah Manning sees what appears to be her double commit suicide by stepping in front of a subway train. She assumes the dead woman's identity: Beth Childs, a detective.  She studies home videos to get Beth's American accent and mannerisms down perfectly.  But she learns that Beth had many secrets.  A prescription drug addiction, an affair with a fellow detective, a suspiciously fit boyfriend, and a very large bank account.  She is also under investigation by internal affairs for shooting an unarmed, innocent, person.

And that is as far as we can go with the plot without spoilers.  Which is too bad, because the beginning, featuring the mystery of Beth Childs, is just the opening to the rabbit whole that is Orphan Black.  It's really a show about the loyalty and ingenuity of a group of sestres who could not be more different, despite being...


  1. I'll take this up. I just finished what Netflix has available for "Person of Interest." I suggest you try it, if bears enjoy people getting shot in the kneecap. Also it has an overarching plot that actually moves in a well place progression. Who am I to judge, though, I'm a priest and a stranger in the forest.

    1. I liked Person of Interest, and very much enjoy watching humans getting their kneecaps shot. I will go back to it. I like "Ben" from LOST.

    2. Orphan Black had some nudity / sex in the beginning of the first season, in only one or two epis, I think, but, having said that, not much, IIRC. Nothing like, say The Americans, or Game of Thrones.

  2. Bear, Outlander is soft porn in my opinion. Watched one episode and that was that. The new Poldark OTOH is wonderful and not objectionable in the least.

    1. Doesn't surprise me. I won't waste my time. The first episode had sex and/or nudity, IIRC. It was pretty obvious that the good-looking, smart future-woman was going to hook up with one or more of the kilt-boys.

  3. Poldark...The Onedin Line...and waaay back, The (first, circa 1970) Forsyte Saga. Sharpe, which I've only recently discovered. (it doesn't get much better than Sean Bean being the soul of decency in a rifleman's uniform in Wellington's army). Even Inspector Morse. Some of them very old school production values and pacing by current standards, but those were the days, my friend. Sigh. I can barely cope with just listening to the series' that my dh enjoys these days, which seem primarily to involve endless beatings and torturings. Watching is out of the question; I'd be a complete wreck in 20 minutes or less. I love for villains to get their just desserts, but my motto is, Bring Back the Hays Office. (Needless to say, I'm resigned to being completely irrelevant. Next stop, assisted living.)

    The bright side: for the moment at least, all of the oldies but goodies are mine to enjoy at any hour of the day or night, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and -- crucially -- the invaluable ability of aforementioned dh to understand it.

    Out of my depth

    1. Still trying to figure out why you have a designated hitter.

    2. I think it's because I'm too timid to leave the dugout. Or not. :-)


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