'Orphan Black' review: Thrill ride

Tatiana Maslany stars on BBC America's series "Orphan

Tatiana Maslany stars on BBC America's series "Orphan Black." (Credit: MCT)

DRAMA SERIES "Orphan Black"

WHEN|WHERE Premieres Saturday night at 9 on BBC America, following the return of "Doctor Who"

REASON TO WATCH Just watch. Trust me on this one.


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WHAT IT'S ABOUT Sorry to be vague, but "Orphan Black" unreels as one unceasingly intricate discovery. Why spoil the thrill?

This much can be said: Series lead Tatiana Maslany wastes no time establishing her star bona fides as a Toronto street punk who, in the first scene, witnesses a professional woman's public suicide. (Talk about a fast start!) The punk swiftly finds herself assuming a different life. Make that "lives," plural.

It's a police procedural. An identity deep-dive. An adult sex-and-violence actioner. A fringe-science conspiracy. A fierce study of a mom's (moms') devotion to family (ies). And a comedy of cross-dressing kids.

MY SAY What else do you need, people? "Orphan Black" is a spiraling tale whose plot, through the four episodes I've seen, just gets thicker and thicker. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. Which is essentially the story right there.

It's not saying too much to rave that Maslany's punk plumbs to soul depths of a twist often seen but so rarely this resonant: the gut-check tension of leading a life you know nothing about, in a career you know nothing about, among people you know nothing about. Then, add a sketchy self. And you've got suspense so riveting, you might as well be impaled by rebar.

Oh, yeah, that happens, too.

BOTTOM LINE A head-spinning, yet deeply humane, thrill ride.

GRADE A-

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