Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Orphan Black: Dead Ringers
she is the doppelganger taking over someone else's life. When Sarah sees
her exact double commit suicide, she lifts the woman’s purse and wallet. The very recently deceased is much better
dressed, after all. However, when she
temporarily assumes the dead woman’s identity, she gets considerably more than
she bargained for in the opening episode of BBC America’s Orphan Black (promo
premieres this coming Saturday evening.
and irresponsible, Sarah carries the baggage of a childhood spent entirely in
the foster-care system. She wants to
begin a new life with Felix, her foster-brother, and her daughter Kira, whom
she has not had custody of in some time (and for good reason). Her dubious idea of a fresh start involves
stealing some inferior grade cocaine from her pseudo-psycho-boyfriend for Felix
to sell. Then she sees Beth throw
herself in front of a train.
her way to Beth’s pad, Sarah finds out where her accounts are. She only intends to stay long enough to clean
them out. Naturally, things do not go
according to plan. It turns out Beth was
a cop, facing a disciplinary hearing for a questionable shooting. Of course, Sarah has no inkling what really
went down. She is also somewhat at a
loss for words when Beth’s romantic interest returns early from a business
trip. It seems rather obvious, but Felix
has to remind her she and Beth are probably connected in some way that could
give her clues to her own past. Gee, you
don’t suppose any more apparent twins might show up?
Orphan is like a combination of
Cinemax’s Banshee and Fox’s late but
not terribly lamented John Doe. If the latter doesn’t mean anything to you,
don’t worry about it. At least, Orphan starts with a jolt. It is not exactly Sion Sono’s Suicide Club, but the tightly staged and
edited train station sequence is undeniably grabby. The first episode also has a promising
grittiness. Viewers can readily accept Tatiana
Maslany’s Sarah and Jordan Gavaris’s Felix are damaged people long accustomed to
operating on the fringes of polite society.
by the time the first episode’s mystery guest shows up, a familiar pattern
begins to emerge. It is all too easy to
foresee a covert government laboratory and a parade of sketchy informers in Orphan’s future. Frankly, we have been down that road many times
in the past and it almost invariably leads nowhere.
It is impossible to render a final critical
judgment on the basis of only one episode, but viewers do just that all the
time. Orphan assembles a reasonably strong cast, but in service of a
so-so premise. It might be a passable
distraction, but it is nowhere near as entertaining as Banshee, with which it apparently shares some superficial cop-impersonating plot
elements. Perhaps it will grow on genre
fans when it takes its place in BBC America’s “Supernatural Saturday” (3/30)
Labels: BBC America