About a year ago, my friend John Rogers and I walked to lunch, talking about how we’re living in a golden age of incredible scripted television. With very rare exceptions (Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, Castle) much of what’s on traditional broadcast networks isn’t particularly interesting to me, but the basic and pay cable channels are consistently producing programs that are so incredible, we’ll be talking about them decades from now. Shows like Mad Men, The Americans, Masters of Sex, Game of Thrones, Justified, and Boardwalk Empire are just a few of the compelling reasons to subscribe to cable, and I haven’t even gotten into the Doctor Whos and True Bloods of the world.
During this conversation, Rogers asked me if I was watching Orphan Black.
“I haven’t heard of it,” I said.
If we’d been listening to a record, it would have scratched straight across to the center. We got to a red light, and waited for it to change.
“You must stop everything you are doing and go directly to iTunes to buy it. It is one of the most amazing series, ever.”
“Those are pretty big words from guy who wrote Catwoman,” I said. (I kid. I kid. We have fun.) “So what’s the pitch?”
“A woman named Sarah is on a train, and when it pulls into the station, she sees another woman who is having a pretty bad time. That woman turns around and looks at Sarah, and she’s an identical twin.”
“Ohhhh twins,” I said. The light changed, and we crossed the street.
“Listen. She’s an identical twin, but before Sarah can say anything, she jumps off the platform and becomes part of a speeding train.”
“Yes. So Sarah is like a punk or something, we’re not sure, but she needs money, right? She thinks for a second, grabs the dead woman’s bag, and assumes her identity.”
We got into the shade of a tall building. It was one of those days we have in LA where it’s miserably hot in the sun, but the shade is comfortable and soothing. “Oh, this sounds really cool!”
“It gets better. By the end of the pilot, we find out that the dead woman is a cop, and then we find out that she and Sarah and a bunch of other women are clones.” He looked sideways at me, knowing that he’d set the hook.
“Holy shit again.”
“And Tatiana Maslany, who plays all of the clones, is just fucking amazing. She will blow your mind, she is such an incredibly talented actor. By the second or third episode, you’ll forget that the same actor is playing all these different roles.”
“Wait. She acts in scenes with herself?!” We walked out of the shade and back into the sun. I squinted my eyes against it, and shaded them with my left hand.
“Yeah, and she does it in every episode,” he said. He landed me in the boat.
“This sounds incredible. How’s the writing?” We got to the restaurant, and I held the door open for him.
“It’s phenomenal. The storytelling is tight and crisp, the photography is great, and I know you’ll love it.” I imagined him standing on a dock, next to my body, strung up by my feet, posing for a picture with Actor Fishing Quarterly, a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Well, I am all over this. I’m buying it as soon as I get home.” I walked to the counter. “Burrito al pastor, extra spicy, no rice,” I said. I looked at Rogers. “Hashtag burrito watch.”
When I got home that afternoon, I went directly to iTunes and bought the series. I watched the first three episodes before I had to stop myself, because I knew that Anne would love it, and I’m always looking for something awesome for us to watch together.
Life happened, and we didn’t get to sit down with it for a month or so, when I saw that Season One of Orphan Black had been added to Amazon Prime Streaming. “You have to watch this show,” I said to Anne.
“You’re not the boss of me,” she said.
“You’re right. Let me try again. You’re going to love this, and I want to watch it together.” I didn’t give her any more details than that, because I thought it would be fun for her to discover the clone situation on her own.
I was right, and we binged the entire series over the next three days. We’ve been counting down to the start of the second season ever since.
I’m telling this story today, because I got super lucky, and was invited by BBC America to host the season 2 kickoff show next week!
But check this out: For my job, I get to meet and talk with and geek out all over Tatiana Maslany and the cast of Orphan Black. Orlando Jones and Patton Oswalt will also be there, and it’s called The Cloneversation.
… THE CLONEVERSATION, CARL!
The Cloneversation airs at 8pm Eastern/Pacific on April 12, on BBC America. Orphan Black’s second season begins on April 19 at 9pm on BBC America.
Oh, and speaking of television, I’ll be on yours tonight (if you’re in the US or Canada) in a new episode of The Big Bang Theory, where I got to do what I think is the single funniest things I’ve ever done on television.