‘Orphan’ ridiculously fun a times

  • By David Wiegand
    San Francisco Chronicle
March 29, 2013

There are precious few moments of credibility in BBC America’s “Orphan Black,” but who needs to believe a TV show to enjoy it?

The latest addition to the network’s “supernatural Saturday” lineup (9 p.m.), which includes “Doctor Who” and “The Nerdist,” is about a young woman named Sarah who sees another woman jump to her death in front of a subway train, snags her purse, cleans out her bank account and, realizing she’s a dead ringer for the dead woman, assumes both her life as a Canadian cop and her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Before you can dredge up the moth-eaten pun “send in the clones,” Sarah discovers she and the late Beth Childs are more than just coincidental look-alikes. What’s more, there are several other clones running around, some of whom are up to no good.

There are many reasons you don’t believe much of it, but Tatiana Maslany isn’t one of them. She’s the actress who stars as all the clones and she’s not only versatile, but as convincing as anyone could be in the show. She moves seamlessly, for the most part, from playing the streetwise screw-up Sarah, to the soccer mom Alison, to the Minnesota nerd scientist clone, to a German clone with neon-red dyed hair and to a crazy killer version with crimped blonde locks and a habit of cutting herself.

You don’t have to watch that closely to find gaps of logic in how the characters are written, especially Beth.

But even when you’re still trying to make sense of what’s going on, “Orphan Black” is sufficiently enjoyable TV. As the second BBC-America-created series after “Copper,” it may not forge any new pathways in the medium, but it is fun. And that’s an increasingly rare commodity in new TV shows these days.



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