In Canada: Saturdays, 9e/6p, Space
In the US: Saturdays, 9/8c, BBC America
Watcha cock! What a fine how-do-you-do this is, innit, doncha know. Chim-chiminey-cheroo, I’ve been watching a bit of the old Nervo and Knox of late and it came into me old noggin like that you’d like a gander at me discombobulations about what I done saw, like, innit.
Right now, I’m sitting in my beefeater uniform, inside a red phone box, with a Tower of London hat on my head, trying to get out of the strange state Orphan Black has put me into. A Canadian show that BBC America has mysteriously picked up too, it stars a bunch of Canadians pretending to be Americans, Germans and, above all, English people. You’d have thought, given the somewhat dodgy quality of the accents that BBC America might have steered clear of this show. But given BBC America – which confusingly is an umbrella network for everything from BBC1 shows to those plucked off Channel 4 and ITV, as well as some original content – is about as authentically British as the average US ‘pub’, apparently not – even fake Brits appeal to anglophiles, it seems, and Canadians are the next best things anyway.
Besides, o be honest, it’s also a show that would be right at home on BBC3.
Orphan Black is a little like the grown-up, nastier, but essentially still tame elder sister of Canada’s other ‘streetwise sci-fi/fantasy woman’ show Lost Girl. It stars Tatiana Maslany as Sarah… and Beck… and…, well, you’ll see. Sarah is one of those ‘streetwise’ girls who appear in very comfortable, escapist dramas, living on her wits (e.g. swallowing soap to make herself sick) in a way that anyone with an IQ higher than an amoeba’s would instantly spot as mildly criminal or at the very least very odd but no one on these shows ever notices as more than her having an odd day. She’s also ‘English’, with one of those glottal-stop laden attempts at Estuary accents that North American actors do and end up sounding like a spoof character on The Simpsons instead. She’s also capable, for no good reason, of doing a slightly more convincing but wobbly ‘American’ accent. And she’s a punk chick, because she wears a Clash ‘London Calling’ T-shirt. Like all we English people do. All the time. I’ve got one on under my Beefeater uniform right now, in fact.
Sarah’s on the run, but when she gets off a train in Unidentified North American City That Could Be In The US But Is Obviously Canadian, she spots a woman who looks exactly like her… and who commits suicide right in front of her. Sarah steals her belongings and assumes Beck’s identity. Somehow, despite Beck being a cop, having a live-in boyfriend, etc, Sarah gets away with it, but before she knows it, more women who look like her start turning up. And then there are the people who are shooting at her, too.
Yes, it’s sci-fi conspiracy series thriller time.
Here’s a trailer and the opening scene.