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Reviews
by Darwyn Carson
March 31, 2013 4:12 PM
3 Comments
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Photo by Steve Wilkie - Courtesy of BBC Tatiana Maslany as Sarah in "Orphan Black"

guest review by Darwyn Carson

We’ve all heard it. Someone channel surfing tosses the remote aside and says: “Over a hundred channels and nothing’s on TV.”

Seems times have changed.

Point of fact, the viewing pendulum has swung from nothing to watch to too much to watch. There’s an awful lot of quality programming being produced and there are just so many hours in a day, making it necessary to pick and choose. Below are a few highlights from all that’s playing now or soon will be. 

First up:  “Who is Orphan Black?”  That was the tease. Great line, right?

BBC America used it to promote this upcoming addition to its Supernatural Saturday roster several months back. It worked. Had me rushing to my computer to do a search, but found nothing for quite some time. It would have dropped off my radar had I not jotted the name on a sticky note and planted it on my sticky note board.

Orphan Black finally premiered last night, Saturday, March 30th in the nine pm timeslot.

Not to go off topic here, but do you remember MI-5, season one? Ellie Simms, unaware that her secretive boyfriend is really a government spook has had enough and takes him to task. During the argument the boy friend, Tom Quinn, played by Matthew Macfadyen, pointedly tells her to stop trying to guess: “Whatever you think it is,” he says, “it isn’t.”

So… just who is Orphan Black? You’ll have to stay tuned. By the first episode’s end, after being so cocksure I had figured out just what was what with the orphan, I returned my gear to neutral because I hadn’t a clue.

Tatiana Maslany takes up the lead here playing doppelgangers, Sarah and Beth. The very likeable Jordan Gavaris is, Felix, her best friend and the comic relief. They grew up together as orphans and know little to nothing about who they are. But best guess is we’re going to find out.  

It starts off with a bang of a mystery which I wouldn’t dream of spoiling. If you didn’t catch it, check out BBC’s website for clips, show details and streaming updates.

Photo Courtesy of TNT Jamie Bamber and Alfred Molina in the TNT drama "Monday Mornings."

With only six episodes per season, the Brits keep us in a perpetual state of wanting more. Stateside, our cable stations have done a bit better doubling that number to twelve, but it still feels like a bit of a surprise when finale after finale pops up and blows us away. Do we even have time to close our mouths? 

Justified (FX), coming up on its finale this week, remained in its usual solid form this season and had plenty of company when it came to keeping us guessing and home fires burning, with two cool newbies: The Americans (FX) and, David E. Kelley’s thrilling medical drama, Monday Mornings (TNT). Make it a point to check them out at least once. They rerun episodes often, making it easier to get up to speed.

Speaking of A-plus television, the season three premiere of Game of Thrones and the season three finale of The Walking Dead are set to go toe-to-toe at 9pm tonight. In truth, how big a battle is it really? With those lovely DVRs it’s watch it now or an hour later.

As for Game of Thrones, I count myself among its countless rabid devotees. If you haven’t read the books, please consider doing so. In 2010, totally unaware of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, but hooked from the TV show’s opening (who doesn’t love the award winning title sequence) then further drawn in by the stories and those jaw-dropping characters, I went in search of their inspiration and discovered Martin’s works. After season one ended I purchased the book in audible form; perfect listening for my commute to and from the office.

Seeing the show fresh, without any preconceived ideas, was magic and didn’t spoil my experience of the novel at all, which can be the case when one reads a work first and sees it as a film later. Delving into the book afterward filled in a lot of blanks and either cemented or explained what I thought I knew about the characters and their relationships with one another.

Following the same route at the end of the second season I learned even more. In A Clash of Kings, Stannis is more fully explored and I loved the in depth explanation involving Arya’s training with the dance teacher and her road journey; both storylines are just different enough to be informative and thrilling, without taking away anything that the screenwriters did in bringing the characters to life on the screen.   

If you haven’t read them hold off until after season three wraps, then dive in. They deserve to be savored all on their own.

Photo by Robert Palka, © Robert Palka/Fresh Pictures - Courtesy of BBC
Mid-week Spies of Warsaw will arrive on our shores from across the pond. BBC America’s latest Dramaville entry stars David Tennant as Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, a French military attaché assigned to Warsaw at a rather precarious time in the world. It’s German pre-invasion; (beginning in 1933) tensions are high as the world stage seems to be teetering. While the players attend formal functions at night dangerous close encounters bode ill. All is definitely not well. Based on Alan Furst’s novel, and adapted into this two-part miniseries by veteran screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Spies has a ring of truth about it and at times feels like a peak behind the curtain; what was known when and who knew it. Who took action, who didn’t and why.

There’s not any new ground tread or sudden goose bump moments here. It’s a straightforward, old-fashioned story told in an old-fashioned way. You can see Spies of Warsaw, Part 1, April 3 at 9 pm

Be sure to check your local listings for correct dates and times for all shows.

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3 Comments

  • Fran | January 14, 2014 3:11 PMReply

    Interesting comment 'bout GoT. On the advice of some of my friends who are George R. R. Martin diehards and who insisted that the books were so much better. I started reading them too. And it's the books that seem to run as slow as a dormant volcano to me. There's a lot going on underneath, but we have to get to so much other stuff to navigate to get to it. It's good stuff, but the series is better for me.

    Also... this is many months after Orphan Black, but did you catch that chick? The show is so-so, but She is a hunk of dynamite with a far reaching blast radius! Gotta find out where they found her.

  • Norm | April 1, 2013 4:59 PMReply

    Gee, with all of that new programming , I still wonder whatever happened to "Coronet Blue?"...

  • SirOtter | April 1, 2013 5:45 PM

    Goodun, Norm. Every now and then, that show bubbles up to the top of my memory and I wonder if it was really as good as my ten year old mind remembered it as being. Chances are I'll never find out.

    I tried Game of Thrones, honestly I did, but I found the pace to be a tad too leisurely for my tastes. Like molasses flowing up hill in winter slow. I switched over to an Errol Flynn picture to remind myself of the days when film-makers knew how to pace an adventure movie.

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