On Blu-ray and DVD–Revisit the best acting performance of 2013 in “Orphan Black”

Maslany as Katja and Sarah on Orphan Black

With the snoozefest that is the annual Emmy Awards, what better time than to recognize the best acting performance and series of 2013 with a review of the DVD/Blu-ray release of BBC America’s Orphan Black?  It’s a shame that there is not one major award show that praises the best acting of the year–pitting the best of films against the best of TV and best actors against actresses.  Our win for 2013 “all-around, male or female” would be easily handed to Tatiana Maslany for her too-many-to-count characterizations on Orphan Black’s inaugural season.  If you watch the garden variety of shows and performers that were nominated for Emmys this year (and every year ineptly seem to be nominated for Emmys ad nauseam) and you don’t know what we mean, then now is the time to review for yourself this ground-breaking dramatic science fiction series on DVD and Blu-ray.

We previously reviewed here at borg.com at the beginning of the season here and at the end of season one here.  In the latter we listed the five major roles played by Maslany.  For our “best performance, male or female” of the year award we would nominate first, “Maslany as Sarah Manning,” along with “Maslany as Alison Hendrix,” and “Maslany as Cosima Niehaus.”  For our “best supporting performance of the year, male or female” award we’d nominate “Maslany as Helena,” but then we’d add some other roles we hadn’t mentioned earlier that would help cinch the “best all around, male or female” award for Maslany.


For “best performance, male or female” we’d add nominations for “Maslany as Sarah pretending to be Beth.”  For “best supporting performance, male or female” we’d add nominations for “Maslany as Alison pretending to be Sarah,” “Maslany as Sarah pretending to be Alison,” “Maslany as Sarah pretending to be Katja,” and “Maslany as Helena pretending to be Sarah pretending to be Beth.”

Orphan Black Maslany as Alison

In a universe where we ran things, any one of these performances would have locked in her trophy.  But if they pressed us to choose just one for each category, we’d give “best performance, male or female” to “Maslany as Alison Hendrix.”  Alison’s tightly wound, overwhelmed suburban soccer mom-turned torturer and murderer was so deftly performed and so completely insane that only Maslany’s other roles on the show and maybe Vera Farmiga’s frenetic performance as Norma Bates on Bates Motel came close.

For “best supporting performance, male or female” the award would go to “Maslany as Helena pretending to be Sarah pretending to be Beth,” a scene featured in “Send in the Clones,” one of the features on the DVD/Blu-ray.  As you’ll find in the release, some of the scene was ad libbed by Maslany.  How is it possible for an actor to play a character pretending to be another character pretending to be another character, and pull it off?   And what lunacy is involved where a performance like Maslany’s doesn’t get the Emmy?

We’ll never know.

Orphan Black Maslany as Helena as Sarah as Beth

But don’t take our word for it.  The DVD/Blu-ray release contains more than seven and a half hours of content including all ten uncut season one episodes.  It has an excellent behind the scenes look at the series called “Send in the Clones,” featuring insights into the creation of the series with the series co-creators and actors.  It also includes the brief “Insights” included with commercials during the original broadcast of the series, and Maslany’s interview on the TV show “The Nerdist” along with Dominic Monaghan.

Orphan Black: Season One lists for $29.98 on DVD but a discount version is currently available at Amazon.com for less than $23, and $34.98 on Blu-ray but a discounted version is currently available on Amazon.com for less than $30.

C.J. Bunce

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