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Orphan Black, some of the best sci-fi currently on TV

Updated on September 26, 2014

Surprisingly good acting

Orphan Black is hands down one of the best sci-fi shows on TV today, which initially came as a bit of surprise to this author. I'm afraid that isn't saying much, as show by show keeps getting canceled by shortsighted networks and cable television channels, but here's a diamond in the rough. Tatiana Maslany plays a dozen clones (very mild spoiler, but you're going to figure that out really quickly anyway, and knowing it doesn't ruin any aspects of the show), and play them well she does. Each of these individuals has a separate, distinct personality, and some are extremely likable while others tend to be much easier to loathe. Maslany shows her acting diversity with aplomb. One thing that really ruins a great science fiction television show is awful acting, and it's all too common.

Orphan Black also features stellar acting from Jordan Gavaris, who plays Maslany's foster brother, who happens to be cockney... and gay. Gavaris's characterization really makes some of the shows, and the two play off each other quite well in different contexts, adding unexpected elements of tongue in cheek humor to an already rich acting troupe.

Main idea

Tatiana Maslany plays Sarah Manning (and a slew of other clones). In the first episode, we are introduced to Sarah as a bit of a "punk" (which is comical to me, but I forgive the show based on its other merits) and a bit of a con artist as well, and honestly kind of a loser. She's dating this guy named Vic, who is a drug dealer. Not great for Sarah.

Right off the bat, Sarah watches a woman who looks exactly like her (and who turns out to be a clone, not much of a spoiler, stop freaking out) named Beth. Being a good con artist, Sarah decides to pretend to be Beth by assuming her identity, even getting to do it with Beth's current boyfriend.

Things get a bit more complicated as it becomes evident that Beth is not the only other clone, and she and her brother, Felix, try to figure out exactly what is going on, what the origin of their creation is, and why Cosima is so much hotter than any of the other clones (okay, maybe that's just my personal interjection, but really, watch the show and you'll see what I mean!).

The guy who played Max Headroom is an evil arch-villain, too!

Tatiana Maslany


Action and plot

The sci-fi in the show is on the light end, kind of taking place in a possible version of today's world, with just a little genetics, and the occasional physical augmentation or radical life extension conversation, albeit briefly. There's also just a little bit of hacker tech, so if that's your thing, you'll get a little bit of it.

The action is solid from episode to episode, and you actually start to like and dislike certain characters fairly quickly. You follow them throughout season one (and, thankfully, on into season two... finally, one that wasn't canceled!) It's light viewing, but it's fun, and well worth checking out.

You might also want to consider checking out the two other surprisingly good sci-fi shows on television. All three (including the aforementioned Orphan Black) are in syndication, with multiple seasons, perfect for binge watching!


Somehow, some way, another decent science fiction show (Orphan Black) has been renewed for that elusive third season! BBC America should be airing season 3 some time in spring 2015. As there isn't a tremendous amount of great sci-fi on TV nowadays, it's a breath of fresh air to not only have a decent premise and good effects, but fantastic acting on TV. Look forward to a fantastic next season, as the plot continues to heat up!

What kind of science fiction TV shows do you like to watch - plot based, "big idea" based, character based, or effects based? I'm all for "big idea" ones usually (a great example of this is "Intelligence" with Josh Holloway - great concept, but not so great acting and scripting). Orphan Black is surprising to me because the "big idea" is a bit played out, but the fantastic cast more than makes up for it.


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