Review by C.J. Bunce
In her 1995 view of the future, Remake, Connie Willis predicted a future where anything could be digitally created on film, where modern-day actors could be digitally stitched into scenes with long dead actors in films like Singing in the Rain or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the living and the dead could intermingle effortlessly. But it’s the “effortlessly” that she got wrong, as becomes very clear from the special features on the DVD and Blu-ray release of Orphan Black Season Two, which will be released today across the U.S.
It’s rare when the best television series stands so far apart from the rest of the crowd, but Orphan Black is that series. Ignore the Emmy nominations. If you only could watch one series from 2014, this is that series. Playing nine characters* and counting, star Tatiana Maslany has scored Golden Globe and People’s Choice Award nominations, a Canadian Screen Actor Award for Best Performance in a Dramatic Role, a TCA Award for Individual Achievement, a Critics’ Choice Best Dramatic Actress Award, and the Young Hollywood Award for breakthrough performance, all for her work on Orphan Black.
Even more than Season One, which we reviewed here at borg.com last year, in Season Two creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson delved deeply behind the several characters that populate the world of Orphan Black, most played by Tatiana Maslany (or just “Tat” according to the other actors on the show). In addition to Maslany’s always on-the-run Sarah, suburban mom Alison, free-wheeling scientist Cosima, and crazy but strangely innocent Helena, Season Two showed us the dark side of the sestra with the cold-as-ice Rachel, and the far side with transgendered Tony.
The season also featured the return of Jordan Gavaris as Sarah’s foster brother Felix, Dylan Bruce as the dubious Paul, Matt Frewer as the Dyad experiment scientist Dr. Aldous Leekey, Evelyne Brochu as Cosima’s partner Delphine, Kristian Bruun as Alison’s husband Donnie, and Kevin Hanchard as Detective Art Bell. It also introduced Michiel Huisman as Kira’s father Cal, and Michelle Forbes as Marion Bowles, a new player sure to play a key role in Season Three.
The new DVD and Blu-ray release, provided by BBC America to borg.com for review, is a must for fans of the show, with nearly one hour of worthy special features that shed some light on the complexities required to show Maslany play so many characters, many times all at once. In addition to all 10 episodes of Season Two, BBC America provides a “making of” feature on the season finale “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”‘s four-clone dance party, a feature on the two-clone battle between Sarah and Rachel in the pilot episode “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed,” a full table read and scene breakdown of the pilot, several vignettes that highlight characters during commercial breaks called “Clone Club Insiders,” and a look at Maslany’s hair and make-up stylists. You can also see will Wil Wheaton go all fanboy on the actors in the “The Cloneversation,” an interview show that originally aired at the end of the season.
Both of the episode features give a great look into the filming, blocking, and acting required for this unique series. We meet Kathryn Alexandre, the unsung hero of the series who plays Maslany’s double and acts every part that Maslany performs involving clones in a single scene. The work behind the features could add a new chapter to Special Effects: The History and Technique, that great work about film we reviewed here at borg.com back in 2012.
The DVD and Blu-ray of Season Two include a surprisingly low number of deleted scenes, only three, and all from the season finale. Accompanied by commentary from Fawcett and Manson, the deleted scenes although brief are three brilliant scenes featuring Alison and Donnie, in final form including music. Some of Bruun’s best work in the series can be found here.
Orphan Black Season Two will provide eagerly desired re-viewing for fans of the series, and great new content in the special features. and is available here at Amazon.com and everywhere videos are sold. If you missed the season, make it your next binge watch.
*Sarah, Beth, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, Katja, Tony, and Aryanna–not to mention Danielle and Janika, two deceased clones who showed up in passport photos.