The newest original series to arrive on BBC America is “Orphan Black,” a dark and creepy science-fiction story about a young woman who finds out that she is one of many clones. With this realization comes mystery and immediate danger.
Starring Tatiana Maslany as Sarah (and all of her clones, of course), “Orphan Black” begins on a dark but normal night. While making a tense call on a train platform, Sarah is stunned to see a well-dressed but sobbing woman who shares her face. The shock only grows when this woman steps off the platform and into a train, committing suicide.
Sarah, who is not the most law-abiding of people, quickly grabs the dead doppelganger’s money and information. And then she realizes that she might be able to steal the apparently better life this woman, Beth.
Of course, our heroine probably should have remembered that she was stealing the life of a suicidal woman.
It just gets creepier from this point onward. The dark tone and the malicious atmosphere of “Orphan Black” keep things tense throughout the first episode. As it turns out, this a good thing — after a quick and intriguing beginning, the rest of the show’s pilot episode merely creeps toward what will be its ongoing story. Instead of exploring the mystery of the clones head-on, “Orphan Black” begins with a detailed look at the very-different lives of Sarah and Beth.
Sarah’s life is one of poverty, neglect and petty crime. Her only ally seems to be her foster brother, Felix (Jordan Gavaris), while even Sarah’s daughter has been kept away from her. Beth, meanwhile, is a successful professional with a hot boyfriend (Dylan Bruce) and a gorgeous apartment. So why did she want to die?
The beginnings of answers do appear by the end of the episode, and they are definitely compelling enough to encourage continued viewing. Sure, it would be good to be thrust into the sci-fi plot, but maybe waiting helps. After all, when we’re dealing with many women, all of whom share a face, it’s probably best to get to know them well.
“Orphan Black” premieres Saturday, March 30 at 9pm on BBC America.