I take it back about Orphan Black

We all look alike. But we're NOT all alike.

We all look alike. But we’re not all alike.

All deerhounds DO look alike. Watch the linked video to see how true that is.

I made a mistake thinking Raebert would be like Psmith. He’s nothing like. And I made a mistake thinking Orphan Black was like so many of BBC’s nihilistic end of world nightmare series. I was wrong. Turns out Orphan Black is also a deerhound in her way. Bear with me…

As you may know, the missus is incapacitated. She’s literally not allowed to move. Broken arm, yes, but she’s not permitted a cast people can write quips on. The bones can’t be set. They have to be persuaded to remain where they are with only a brace to help keep them there and her pain to tell her if she’s moving in a way that could require displacement and surgery.

Why entertainment becomes critically important. I have her planted in front of the TV. Ordered to immobility. Why I reopened the question of the BBC series Orphan Black. If it could be diverting, there were at least eight hours of drama for her to enjoy. While she dozed, I watched again the pilot that pissed me off. It was off-putting, lots of sleazy characters, a little bit lewd, and everything I hadn’t liked the first time. But this time I was more patient. The writing was crisp, the editing not at all bad, and the premise was, finally, gulp, intriguing. Grumble grumble. The acting not’s so bad either.

Upshot. When my wife woke up I invited her to watch the pilot again. She’s going to be immobile for eight weeks. Does wonders for patience. So, enough of our personal travails. Here’s the real lowdown on Orphan Black, which we have now watched eight of nine broadcast episodes of (on demand) with maybe two or three left to go in the season.

Absolutely brilliant. I was completely wrong in my early dismissal. In my defense, it’s positioned as a BBC series. It isn’t. It’s almost purely Canadian. The best series I have ever seen from that nation. It’s an old-fashioned morality play disguised as a hip, modern sci fi psychodrama. The Brits could not do this thing. Their taking credit for it is an entertainment crime.

I’m not going to give you any spoilers. The rasty, nasty beginning is merely a setup for jerks like me. Truth is, the heroine is exactly who she has to be to survive the situation she is walking blindly into. The lead actress is a wonder, playing multiple parts with extraordinary finesse. There’s also the most attractive gay character I’ve yet seen in movie or TV, the foster brother who is both femme and manly without making himself an oxymoron.

The premise is clones. Imagine suddenly finding that there are nine of you, exactly like you genetically, and someone is trying to kill you all. You’re an experiment, nobody can be trusted, and half of you are dead already.

What’s amazing is the questions the series raises in the course of potboiler action and sometimes absurdist comedy (as clones fill in for one another with artful coaching): What constitutes a human soul? Not at the end yet, but the answer is already implicit. And it’s subversive in the extreme to the totalitarian impulse that we are all merely units in a utopian fantasy. They can rig the plot at the end yet, but the gist of the content is clear. And I am inspired.

More importantly, my wife is not hurting when she watches.

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