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What a long, dry summer of TV it’s been!

Fact is, if you’re not a Breaking Bad / Dexter fan this summer’s network and cable offerings were a bit of a TV wasteland. A million people gave up on True Blood (I didn’t get past the season opener); the TV movie-esque Under The Dome was the season’s top show and too many networks saved their best offerings for the Fall which means my DVR is literally going to explode in the coming weeks!

So I’ve spent the summer catching up on a couple of key shows. First up was Scandal which was EVERY bit as good as everyone says it is. I’m literally salivating at the prospect of Season 3. If you haven’t seen the show yet, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and start watching. That’s an order!

And then there’s Orphan Black, a critically acclaimed curio that aired on BBC America in the Spring and yet doesn’t seem to have really permeated the pop culture-sphere quite yet. Honestly I can’t tell you how many TV savvy people I’ve mentioned the show to who haven’t heard of the series. And that’s a shame as the show is definitely worth a look.

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In a nutshell Orphan Black is about human clones (that may sound like a spoiler but it really isn’t). Tatiana Maslany is the show’s star in EVERY way and gives a tour de force performance – or should I say performances. Maslany plays a range of clones who end up fighting back against the mysterious forces trying to kill them / the cops trying to arrest them / and the scientists who see them as little more than an experiment.

There’s Sarah, the streetwise Brit; Beth the cop; Alison, a sharp-tongued soccer mom; Cosima, a dreadlocked biology student and Helena, a crazy Ukranian killer with bloody scars etched into her back.

The ‘fun’ really kicks off when Beth commits suicide right in front of Sarah’s eyes – and the morally dubious hustler steals her identity. That’s when the complications begin. Also along for the ride – Felix, Sarah gay foster brother and confident who pretty much has all the show’s best lines; Art, Beth’s police partner trying to figure out what’s really going on; Mrs S, Sarah and Felix’s foster mother and caretaker of her young daughter; and Paul…

Okay time for a little swooning here! Paul is Beth’s boyfriend who gets caught up in the action. Played by former soap actor Dylan Bruce he’s also probably the hottest guy on TV at this moment. I mean distractingly attractive. And the fact that he’s frequently shirtless in the show’s first few episodes – definitely a bonus! Okay, back to the show.

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Obviously the main element of Orphan Black that has everyone talking is Maslany herself, playing a dream ‘role’ with dozens of layers. And yes, she is superb. Later in the series Maslany features in entire scenes alongside herself, playing three different clones at the same time, all interacting beautifully (the effects work is just seamless). No wonders Maslany’s career is now kicking into high gear in the mainstream.

I’ll be honest, I did find the tone of Orphan Black a tad off-putting in the show’s first few episodes. I couldn’t quite tell what the show wanted to be and it felt a little contrived and tongue in cheek at the start. Thankfully the show finds its own feet and style as it goes along, largely through the introduction of Helena who poses a much bigger threat than Sarah’s cartoonish ex Vic. I also wish the show’s producers hadn’t made its settings so generic – Black was filmed in Canada and is meant to feel as though it could be set anywhere. But I spent the first few weeks trying to figure out where the show is based! Turns out it’s actually quite distracting to have a show with no set locale.

But these minor quibblers aside this one’s definitely worth a watch. Like most shows, Orphan Black gets better and more involving as it goes along and ends up as a pretty nifty little thriller by the end of season 1 (season 2 has already been ordered for next year). To be honest it’s a real shame the show isn’t airing on a more compatible network like Syfy as I think it would be huge. Still in this era of downloads and box sets a show like Orphan Black can still be discovered and generate a strong cult following. So check it out, however you can!