Monday, August 21, 2017

Orphan Black


And so, it ends. 5 (small) seasons of Orphan Black, and it was good. There were some poor episodes, but even when the plot got thin the actors carried the show, especially Tatiana Maslany.

A must watch.


Orphan Black is a great mix of humor, action, and drama. I'm currently approaching the end of season 4, and though the quality of each individual episode varies a lot, the series overall is still worth it.

Of course, it involves cloning, but it isn't about cloning. (There's not much of a spoiler there, as you already know, it's hard to overlook that specific aspect of the show.)

The clone sisters are all played by the same actress Tatiana Maslany, and she did a very good job. At the start of the show, season 1, I had some worries it would become a 'standard run of the mill' episodic detective show, in which the ex junky Sarah would take over her Beth's life (another clone who also happens to be a police officer).

Fortunately, that didn't happen.

Instead we are treated to a roller coaster of ups and downs, in which Sarah meats several of her 'sestra'. And is it hard to pick a favorite!

Me myself I am a little torn between Helena and Allison, with Krystle as a great runner up. The one clone I would like to have known more about was M.K. but alas, it was not to be.

Season 1

Introduction, some standard fare, but things will get better.

Season 2

Full stride clone affairs.

Season 3

Okay (not in everyone's opinion, I know) and at the end 'team clone' appeared to be the winner. (And who doesn't love to hate Rachel 😊)

I think it must have been a hit or miss if the show would have been canceled right then and there, and perhaps that is why they more or less wrapped up everything in season 3.

The producers pulled of one thing that absolutely impressed me. At the end of season 3 there is no cliffhanger, and the good guys (that is, the girls aka team clone) won. Perhaps they expected no continuation of the series, and decided to end it on a good note. If there would not have been a season 4, then the ending would have been perfect.s overall is still worth it.

Season 4 - First half

And then came season 4.  At the end of season 3 team clone had succeeded for the larger part, then in a complete turn around, they lost everything in the first half of season 4. Individual episodes may have been poor, but the change of outlook was great.

It overlaps the first three seasons, shining a different light on several episodes, and peeling yet another layer from the onion. Is it a retrofit, or was it part of the background story after all? Who knows... In spite of a few too many 'mistaken identity' cases (that joke is wearing a little thin) the writers did a great job of fitting a new story 'inside' the old ones. It's a bit like the Bourne movie(s), where movie number 2 overlaps movie number 1. Or how Ender's Shadow retells Ender's Game.
I'm now at episode 6, and I just arrived at a new 'show ending'. If there are no more episodes, then episode 7 would be perfect as well. And sad, too...

... as 'team clone' lost the game...

With yet four more episodes I wonder what will happen next. I expect a cliffhanger, trying to get a season 5 on Netflix. (Quick Google... yes, there will be a fifth and final season.)

A propos Netflix... I'm a little confused? BBC and Space were driving this show, some sites say it's being carried by Amazon, and to confuse things even further you call it a Netflix Original. Right.

Season 4 - Second half

And then... then came the second half of season 4. And it was bad. Sloppy writing, uninteresting antagonists (read: baddies), plot holes the size of the Atlantic. Nah. And I expected an early cancellation.

I have said it before, and I say it again: a production company and a show runner should always be prepared for cancellation. It's part of the game, but I think the value of a show increases if it includes a proper ending. This way, a show could be re-run, sold to another channel, or be released as a collector's box. It also will keep the fans happy, who in turn will be willing to try the next show by those producers / show runners / TV stations. Never piss of your fan base...

Think of Firefly or Farscape... their cancellations were noisy and bad, and it took a lot of fan effort to get both properly wrapped up. Fringe's final season was a little too rushed, but better than nothing.

Back to the show. In general I can provide a large dose of 'suspension of disbelief', but sometimes things get on my nerves. In this case: Sarah takes a helicopter to a far away , very cold island, to save a good friend. So... she goes in alone? She's a passenger in a chopper entering hostile territory, expecting a fight, yet she goes alone? And what happens to the chopper? It flies back without its passenger? How was she planning to get back again? Swim? Any rational person (the clones might not be entirely rational, I admit, but still) would either go in 'stealthy' or 'in force'. This just doesn't make sense, not even the clones are that stupid...

I hope they can pull a rabbit out of that hat, as season 5 is the last one.

Season 5

Fortunately, there was a season 5 of Orphan Black. It was announced as a full season, and as the final season. With only 10 episodes (the regular season length) the producers had to wrap up many plots, so now and again their solutions were a little abrupt... but worked.

I think they were planning to turn Allison into a religious nutcase, but they dropped that arc, probably due to lack of time.

Siobhan Sadler and Ferdinand Chevalier had their fates linked. The one missing was Charlotte who's faith was left in limbo (but I think she just might be living with Art).

Episode nine provides most of the wrap-up, one episode earlier then one would expect, so when the final episode started I felt uncomfortable. So many things left, and suddenly the action stops and the water just... flows. (No pun intended.)

That's when you realize this show isn't about cloning, or killing. It's about a very, very dysfunctional family, and that last half hour, in hindsight, is as close to perfect as things can get. Count me impressed. Just look at this...

Have a good life, sestra. May all of you find happiness. Even Rachel.

Final verdict

Good series, seasons aren't too long. Even the poor episodes have some great characters. Don't get too frustrated when watching the second half of season four, it's worth it.

Now excuse me. I have to fix some concrete in my garage...

Dapper / Retrotales #89

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