Friday, September 5, 2014

Orphan Black: Season Two Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
The new season hits the ground running with Sarah (Golden Globe nominee Tatiana Maslany, "Parks and Recreation"), in a desperate race to find her missing daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler, Carrie) – a wild pursuit that brings her head-to-head with ruthless pro-clone, Rachel (Maslany). This season also rejoins Sarah’s clone sisters Alison (Maslany) and Cosima (Maslany) as they struggle to keep their clone world a secret and pick up the pieces of their broken lives – all while dealing with the harsh reality that no one around them can be trusted. The series premiered on BBC AMERICA April 19, 2014 and found an exclusive home on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Maslany’s breakout performance, playing seven clones and counting, earned her Golden Globe and People’s Choice nominations, and won her multiple Awards including a TCA Award for Individual Achievement, a Critics’ Choice Best Dramatic Actress Award, the Young Hollywood Award for breakthrough performance and a Canadian Screen Actor Award for Best Performance in a Dramatic Role.

Show (4 out of 5 stars)
Tatiana Maslany is back as Sarah, Cosima, Alison and Helena, as well as becoming Rachel, and Tony, two other newfound sisters in the second season of
Orphan Black.  After the disappearance of Kira and Mrs. S., Sarah goes on a hunt for them and takes on the Dyad Institute as she tries to find answers to all her questions.  After finding Kira and Mrs. S., Sarah takes Kira and along with Felix, goes on the run.  They end up at a cabin in the woods, where Sarah’s ex-Cal, lives.  When the Dyad Institute finds them, Sarah, Cal and Kira escape and try to disappear.  But Sarah can’t leave her sisters behind and after leaving Kira safe with Cal, returns home to take on Rachel, Leakie, and find out the truth.

Cosima, newly ensconced in her fancy lab and office at the Dyad Institute, continues her research with the help of her minder and lover, Dr. Delphine Cormier.  As her illness worsens, they race against time trying to find a way to slow down the progression until a cure can be found.  After finding that Delphine is more involved than she knew, Cosima breaks their relationship off and brings in her former assistant to help.

Alison’s perfect life is falling apart.  Suspicious of everyone, she takes to drinking and pill popping.  After an incident at the community theater, she finds herself in rehab, where she runs into Sarah’s ex-Victor.  Victor begins snooping around, even after they both leave rehab, and in order to keep their secrets, Alison and her husband Donnie resort to threats and blackmail.

Helena has had a bit of a rougher time.  After being taken to a cult farm where she is married off, she finally escapes and finds Sarah.  The two of them hunt down additional clues, but after a bar fight, Helena ends up back at the farm.  She again escapes, as does the daughter of the cult leader and one of his followers.

All four clones finally reunite with the help of Felix and Detective Art Bell.  But nothing is that simple and before they can finally find out the truth about themselves, Helena is kidnapped again, Sarah meets with another Dyad Institute member, Rachel meets some unfortunate circumstances, and Mrs. S. once again confuses the viewers and shows that she may or may not be able to be trusted.

Holy cow!  Tatiana Maslany is an amazing actress, taking on all these parts.  The supporting cast is excellent as well, and I love Jordan Gavaris who is impressive as Felix, Sarah’s foster brother.  He is by far, my favorite character, with Maslany’s Alison my second favorite.  Cosima is smart and interesting, Sarah is the heroine of the show and Helena is the crazy one who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  

Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p high definition 16:9 presentation of Orphan Black is really good.  The picture is really clear and everything is so sharp.  When it’s raining, you can see each rain drop clearly and colors are clear.  Dark and night scenes are bright enough to still see clearly, but still appropriately dark.  The gritty scenes were still clear and very well done.  The good picture really upped my enjoyment of the show.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Orphan Black’s DTS-HD 5.1 audio is almost perfect.  There were only a couple of times where I had to adjust the volume slightly to be able to hear the dialogue, but everything was mostly clear and intelligible.  Background sounds were just right and after the volume adjustment, I had no problems hearing anything.  Subtitles in English SDH are available. 

Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
Mostly made up of behind-the-scenes looks at different parts of the show, except for the “Cloneversation,” I really enjoyed all the features.  Especially being shown how each clone is created and acted out on the screen.

Disc One:
  • Cloneversation – A conversation or “Cloneversation” with cast, crew and fans, hosted by Will Wheaton.  This is basically a season one recap conversation.  It includes recap scenes of season one, set up like a “previously on” feature.  This was a little bit boring.  I’m not sure what the draw of Will Wheaton is, but its set up sort of like “The Talking Dead.”  It’s 40 minutes of a talk show about the show. 

Disc Two: 
  • Clone Club Insiders – This is a brief look at the characters; the creators and the clone double for Tatiana Maslany.  Available individually or in a play all option.  Individually, each part is around a minute long.
    • Sarah – An interview with Tatiana Maslany as she talks about her character, Sarah.        
    • Cosima – Maslany talks about the Cosima clone.
    • Alison –   Maslany talks about suburbanite clone, Alison.
    • Felix – Actor Jordan Gavaris, creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson talk about his character, Felix.
    • Graeme & John – Series creators John Fawcett and Graeme discuss the characters and their stories.
    • The Real Cosima – The creators talk about Cosima’s science background and the origins of the name Cosima.  The real Cosima is the science consultant on the show.
    • Tatiana’s Double – Tatina Maslany’s clone double, Kathryn Alexandre, talks about her job as the other person in scenes where clones are interacting.  Includes comments by crew members.
  • Behind the Scenes – Also available individually or as play all.  Timing on each part varies from five minutes to almost 15 minutes, but are all interesting.
  • Script to Screen – A look at how the series goes from its table reading to the episode you see on TV.  Includes interviews with cast and crew explaining the different ways scenes were filmed, blocked and brought to life.
  • Hair & Makeup – A look at how the hair and makeup artists bring each clone to life and how they decide on the different looks.
  • The 2-Clone Smackdown – Behind-the-scenes of the smackdown between Sarah and Rachel.  Cast and crew show how the scene was blocked and was planned.  It’s a look at the different ways they shot the scene from using Tatiana as each character, to her clone double, Kathryn, to using tennis balls to mark the locations of the opposite character.  Also shows the special effects used to create the scene.
  • The 4-Clone Dance Party – A behind-the-scenes look at one of my favorite scenes on the show – the scene where all four clones, Sarah, Alison, Cosima and Helena, are together in Felix’s loft dancing, relaxing and having a nice time together.  I loved this scene from beginning to end.  From the moment Helena comes in and is finally introduced to Cosima and Alison to the end of the dancing when they all go to sleep.  It includes interviews with cast and crew, talking about how they blocked and filmed the dance scene.
  • Deleted Scenes – Three deleted Alison and Donnie scenes from the season finale with an introduction by John and Graeme.  After the scenes, John and Graeme are shown again explaining each scene.  I enjoyed these deleted scenes, but they didn’t really bring much to the episode and were good choices to cut.  

Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
I had wanted to watch Orphan Black from the beginning, but missed it.  I heard so much about it; it seemed like such an interesting concept.  Now that I am all caught up, I’m eager for the next season to start.  I am impressed with the level of abilities by all the actors, especially Tatiana Maslany, who plays no less than four parts, usually more, each season.  If you’re not watching this show, you are definitely missing out!

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