Orphan Black: Season One

August 14, 2013 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) is an outsider, as she has never been able to fit in or find her place in the world. But her life takes an unusual turn in an unexpected fashion, when she sees a familiar face on a subway platform. Sarah sees a woman who looks exactly like her, as if it was her lost twin. Before she can even process this strange sight, the other woman throws herself in front of the train and kills herself. With the hope that this other woman’s life is better than her own, Sarah assumes her identity and attempts to simply trade in her old existence. She transitions into this new life, altering her speech, her lifestyle, and adapting this new persona, but she soon discovers her “twin” was no fluke. As it turns out, that wasn’t her only look-a-like at the subway platform and Sarah learns that multiple others exist. Now she isn’t just interested in improving her life, but she wants to uncover who she really is and what all of these twins could mean. Will she be able to discover the truth about herself and her dopplegangers, or will she simply find herself replaced in the end?

Orphan Black is an excellent new series from the BBC, one with tense atmosphere, great writing, and above all else, a superb performance from lead Tatiana Maslany. As the show centers on the various incarnations of herself, Tatiana is the life blood of Orphan Black. She has to make each version unique and believable, otherwise the entire series would collapse. She also needs to be able to play off herself well within these characters, given how much screen time she shares with herself. But she proves to be more than up to the task, in one of the better performances in recent memory, television or otherwise. The supporting cast is good as well, but Tatiana steals the show and drives Orphan Black, no doubt about that. The story is not exactly fresh, but the creators inject some new blood into the concept, so it works and never feels rehashed. The drama works, the tension works, and unlike most shows of this kind, we’re able to care about what happens, which really elevates the show. I wasn’t sold on the concept at first, but it works and this first season is well worth a look.

Video: How does it look?

The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The show’s dark visuals are able to shine here, with good detail and no real problems to mention. Even the darkest scenes still retain all the intended depth, so shadows aren’t muddled or what not, allowing the visuals to come through. I found colors to be well handled within the dark visuals, while contrast is spot on and never wavers even a touch. The image isn’t up to high definition standards of course, but detail is solid and the show looks quite good overall.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 option is rock solid, with good presence and surround use. The show’s tense atmosphere is bolstered by this track, which really helps the experience. The surrounds aren’t kicked into high gear at all times, but they’re lively and ensure the show’s environments are brought to life. The music sounds excellent too, which is great since it is so well crafted and such a strong element of the show’s sound design. I heard no issues with dialogue either, so all in all, this is a terrific soundtrack. This release also includes English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release includes a handful of promotional behind the scenes featurettes.

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