Telly Text #21: Orphan Black + Bates Motel

on Sunday, October 27, 2013
Words: Jordan Andrew

'Orphan Black'

Before I started reviewing 'Orphan Black', I wanted to do some general research on Canadian television shows and see how many I recognised. To my surprise I never knew shows like 'Are You Afraid Of The Dark?', 'Heartland' and 'Rookie Blue' were all Canadian shows. Joining this list of hit Canadian TV shows is 'Orphan Black', a sci-fi drama starring Tatiana Maslany who plays several identical women throughout this show. This first series focuses on Sarah Manning - one of these identical women who finds herself on a soul-searching mission after seeing a clone of her commit suicide.

After the death of her identical clone, Sarah is forced to take on the role of the dead clone Beth. Beth was a police officer involved in a heavy case which Sarah has to throw herself into immediately thanks to her colleague Art (Kevin Hanchard). Sarah will find out that living this double life is quite the pain when people start believing that she is the one that committed suicide and the only person she can trust at the moment with her secret is Felix (Jordan Gavaris) her adopted brother. When Sarah’s ex lover Vic (Michael Mando) start fishing around to find out what actually happened to Sarah, it is up to Felix to make him believe that Sarah is actually dead.

As the series goes on, Sarah starts to find out that Beth is not the only clone and that each clone has a different personality to the next. With each of these clones comes secrets that keep you gripped through out. If you want a character to look out for I suggest watching Paul Dierden (Dylan Bruce) - he is the sex maniac that seems to have a lot of control issues, so when Sarah starts posing as Beth will Paul figure out that the truth and will the truth about Paul come out?

Now I really do not want to spoil 'Orphan Black' for anyone wanting to watch it but all I am going to say is that you will start to lose count with all the clones that are in this first series. This Canadian hit drama has already be commissioned for a second series to beginning April 2014 and will probably hit our television screens soon after. This show has so much potential but for BBC Three to place it on a Friday night when people are out after a hard week is a bad call. I do hope if BBC Three does gets the right for series two they will place it on a Sunday evening after the X-Factor hype as I can see this show challenging 'Downton Abbey' and 'Homeland'.

Catch 'Orphan Black' every Friday at 9pm on BBC Three or catch up on BBC iPlayer.

'Bates Motel'

'Psycho' is known as one of the best horror thrillers of all time, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Whenever I think of the film, I always remember that famous shower scene where Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is being stabbed all over her body as the dramatic music plays. Fast-forward 53 years later and the television spin-off of 'Psycho' has brought the craze to the UK. 'Bates Motel' is the modern day prequel that focusses on the teenage years of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) as they live in an old house which links up to their motel, which is currently under renovation.

When I watched the first episode of 'Bates Motel' I honestly started to regret clicking on to the Universal Channel. Half an hour into the show it was feeling like a cheap version of 'The O.C.', with all these teenagers on my screen. Just as the second advert was about to start, 'Bates Motel' went from first gear to fifth gear in a few seconds. As the series continues we are also introduced to Norman’s half brother Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot), who is isolated by Norman and Norma from the get go - the relationship is so broken that he keeps addressing his mother as Norma.

Not every relationship is a tragic mess in this show - Norman is even able to get himself involved in a love triangle between two very different girls. First, we have Brandy (Nicola Peltz) who is your typical popular high school, you can just see Brandy breaking Norman’s heart which could lead him going on some crazy killing spree. In the other corner, we have Emma (Olivia Cooke), the outcast in this high school, carrying around an oxygen tank wherever she goes. Emma is quite clingy and always wants to be around Norman, which for a quiet boy, could start to drive him crazy. As much as I would like to see Norman find love, I can't see it happening with his dominating mother always on his case.

Now, let’s be honest, nothing will ever compare to the cinematic quality of 'Psycho'. Anthony Perkins to many will be the only Norman Bates, so I already feel slightly sorry for Freddie Highmore. For this teenage Norman Bates he fits the part quite well, I like the fact he knows when to turn on the crazy and when to calm it down. As for Vera Farmiga, I can see why she got her Emmy nomination. She does justice to the character Norma - I can't imagine many other current television actresses doing such a good job.

Catch 'Bates Motel' every Thursday at 9pm on the Universal Channel.

Read previous Telly Text columns here and find more from Jordan at @jrory.

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