Third-episode verdict: Orphan Black (Space/BBC America)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 5

In Canada: Saturdays, 9e/6p, Space
In the US: Saturdays, 9/8c, BBC America

What ho! Time to revisit the verisimilitude vacuum that is Orphan Black, which I believe is supposed to be the US and Canada’s revenge for Brits and Aussies getting all the leads in proper TV shows, but which merely ends up showing why that’s the case. Here we have a couple of Canadians, whose attempts at English accents have got worse over the space of just three episodes to now resemble those in Mary Poppins, pretending to be brother and sister ‘street kids’, the sister assuming the life of a woman physically identical to her in order to get some cash, escape her drug-dealer boyfriend and, eventually, escape from someone who’s trying to kill her. Along the way, she discovers that there are more women who look just like her and before you can say “Really? It took you three episodes to get to that point when it was in the trailer and it was obvious in the first episode?”, she discovers she’s a clone. Whose clone, why she was cloned, how she was cloned and why all her fellow clones are being killed off, we’ve still yet to find out.

Well, you guys still watching will, because I’m giving up at this point. It’s not just the terrible accents, I should point out here, which are now like fingernails on blackboards. It’s not just the attempts at English slang (“I’ll kick the shite out of you.” Are you northern now, love?). And if I were 18 and had never seen a sci-fi conspiracy theory thriller before, either on TV or at the movies, I might be of a different mind.

But watching ‘street’ kids who would probably have been stabbed to death years ago in real life, outsmarting even cops they now work alongside, while a never-ending, unconvincing parade of new clones is shoved across the screen is just not my thing. Again, if I was 18, I’d probably think this was brilliant. Maybe not, but I might. But having already seen much better, more exciting, less stupid, funnier and better shows, some even involving clones and conspiracy theories (Timeslip and A For Andromeda. Hell, even The Island was better, the first half about 1,000 times better. Clone, however, was worse, I’ll give you that), this feels like a great big witless waste of time.

I don’t care about the characters; I’m not interested in them either: central clone Sarah is dumb, her other clones are just annoying, and the evil one is ridiculous; her brother, Felix, was comic relief for all one episode, before becoming the guy who gets the plot told to or runs around getting into trouble. None of the supporting characters work and are all too stupid to live. And the central clone conspiracy is being dragged out for so long that I can’t tell if it’s interesting or not. There aren’t even hints, beyond the existence of the clones. It might turn out to be the most interesting conspiracy theory ever, but at the moment, we’re only just being told there are clones and heaven knows how long it will take to spin out whatever gossamer-thin premise the writers have planned. In terms of tension and intellectual stimulation, “How did they do that shot with those clones?” is as far as it goes. And when you’re more interested in the details of the SFX than the plot, you know the show is ungripping to say the least.

So I’m dropping it. If you’re 18 or so, do feel free to carry on watching, though.

Barrometer rating: 5
Rob’s prediction: I’d like to say it’ll be cancelled before the season is out, by suspect it’ll go on and on, particularly if there’s a cliffhanger at the end of the season