Monday, March 25, 2013

Orphan Black: Exciting new Sci Fi Series

Tatiana Maslany is first glimpsed sitting very still and composed in a CTV interview room at the network's Queen Street West headquarters.
It's the last interview of the day for her and her travel bag is all packed --she must soon rush off to fly to New York city for even more interviews.
She doesn't look at all tired. But rather apprehensive about the future that awaits her.
Because Tatiana Maslany is about to emerge from anonymity to become TV's latest hot star.
Her vehicle, the terrific new series Orphan Black, revs up on Space Saturday night at 9.
And already the insider buzz has been very encouraging.
She's pretty dazzling in the lead or rather the leads.
There are multiples of her character in play here. Her major character is Sarah a street wise waif from the lower British classes who sports a street Brit accent and has a daughter she's trying to reclaim after initially abandoned her.
But she's also another character, a cop named Beth who is up on charges of mishandling a major case.
And she's also a  mysterious German woman named Katjia.
Yes, Tatiana Maslany is playing clones.
They look alike although they dress differently, talk differently and live in different worlds.
It all makes for quite a dramatic challenge for Maslany and one early review calls her effort "excellent".
First up she had to get the job and she describes the audition process as grueling --it went on for several days and she had to deliver scenes in various accents viewers would find acceptable.
She also had to act  opposite possible co-stars most notably Jordan Gavaris who plays her foster brother Felix, another street urchin trying to find his way.
"I didn't know until the end that I had gotten it, "She says with a nervous laugh.
"I can be playing different characters in the same day. Most challenging are the scenes when I'm interacting with --myself!"
In the old days when Bette Davis or Olivia de Havilland were playing twins half the screen would be photographed and then the rest.
Maslany says the technology has so improved it can look as if she's touching the other character. But these scenes take hours to complete.
"I just have to remember what I'll be doing on the other side."
And then there's the different accents which she works on with a coach. "Sarah is number one but I sometimes play several the same day."
Orphan Black is BBC America's first North American made series --co-produced with Space and staffed with first rate Canadian actors.
Those of us from Toronto can spot the CN tower in an early shot but there's been some effort to make sure there are no street car tracks visible --here T.O. stands in for any North American major metropolis.
But Maslany laughs at the suggestion Sarah has an English accent because after all Orphan Black is on BBC America in the States.  "Besides the voice I have to change body movements as I go from character to character. Beth is more professional than Sarah, she has a demanding occupation,a settled life with a devoted boyfriend."
She would agree, I'm sure, that she's still at 27 relatively unknown. But I spotted her years ago on an early Heartland episode and then she co-starred in the CBC drama series Being Erika.
Her potential is enormous. She tackles every challenging scene in the first episode which I've watched twice.
Ten hour episodes have been shot. The executive producers are two cagey veterans of the TV series game: John Fawcett (Rookie Blue) and Graeme Manson (Flashpoint). As long as the plot has us guessing and not explaining away everything the show could take off.
The first hour is sleek to look at and filled with dense plotting --plus some nudity which is requisite on cable TV.
As I leave I tell Maslany I think she's in a winner.
Meaning that treasured life of anonymity will soon be over.
MY RATING: ***1/2.


No comments: