Everything about Orphan Black, eh?

Baroness Von Sketch Show, Alias Grace and Andrew Phung take home trophies during Night 2 of Canadian Screen Awards

The writers on Baroness Von Sketch Show, Letterkenny, Orphan Black, Odd Squad, and Kim’s Convenience co-star Andrew Phung and Schitt’s Creek‘s Emily Hampshire were among the winners in the Creative Fiction Storytelling categories during Night 2 of the Canadian Screen Awards.

Hosted by Kim’s Convenience‘s Andrew Phung, the non-televised celebration honoured 42 categories in the guest performance, writing, directing, photography, editing, production design, visual effects, sound, limited, variety and sketch comedy.

“On the count of three, I want you to shout out what you had for breakfast!” Phung yelled at the crowd before calling out Schitt’s Creek‘s Daniel Levy for not answering. “Now I want you to shout out your favourite Canadian production, but it cannot be your own project!” He then called his mother on his cell phone for advice on how to host the show.

“Oh my god,” she said. “You should just do your best.”

Special awards were given to the late Denis McGrath (Margaret Collier Award) and Jay Switzer (Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award), and Bell Let’s Talk (Humanitarian Award).

Here are the winners in several of the key categories:

Best Supporting Actor, Drama
R.H. Thomson, Anne

Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Allie MacDonald, Cardinal

Best Guest Performance, Drama Series
Steven McCarthy, Mary Kills People

Best Pre-School Program or Series
Paw Patrol, TVO Kids

Best Animated Program or Series
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, YTV

Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series
Odd Squad, TVO Kids

Best Performance, Children’s or Youth
Ella Ballentine, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew

Best Performance, Animation
Martin Short, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween

Best Writing, Variety or Sketch Comedy
Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor, Jennifer Whalen, Jennifer Goodhue, Monica Heisey, Mae Martin, Zoe Whittall — Baroness Von Sketch Show, CBC

Best Writing, Comedy
Jacob Tierney, Jared Keeso — Letterkenny, CraveTV

Best Writing, Drama Program or Limited Series
Sarah Polley — Alias Grace, CBC

Best Writing, Drama Series
Graeme Manson, Renee St. Cyr — Orphan Black, Space

Best Writing, Children’s or Youth
Adam Peltzman, Tim McKeon — Odd Squad, TVO Kids

Best Writing, Animated
Sean Jara — Mysticons, YTV

Best Supporting or Guest Actor, Comedy
Andrew Phung, Kim’s Convenience

Best Supporting or Guest Actress, Comedy
Emily Hampshire, Schitt’s Creek

Best Sketch Comedy Program or Series
Baroness Von Sketch Show, CBC

Here is the complete list of winners from Wednesday night.




Kristian Bruun says goodbye to Murdoch Mysteries in The Book of Jackson

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading unless you have watched the Season 10 finale of Murdoch Mysteries.

As much as I love Murdoch Mysteries, I didn’t like the way the show said goodbye to Constable “Slugger” Jackson. There was a lot going on in the Season 10 finale and Season 11 premiere, so his loss felt a little shoved to the side for fans. But now I feel like we—and the most lovable lug in Station House No. 4—have gotten a proper sendoff thanks to this season’s Murdoch Mysteries web series The Book of Jackson.

Written by Noelle Girard, the six-episode series—available now at CBC.ca—kicks off with the members of Station House No. 4 continuing to grieve the loss of Constable Jackson as they pack up his belongings. But the arrival of a distraught woman looking for the deceased Jackson and the discovery of a hidden notebook filled with a secret code lead Murdoch, Crabtree, Higgins and Watts working to unravel the case Jackson was working on in secret before he died.

I spoke to Kristian Bruun about playing Jackson for so many years and what it was like to return to the Murdoch Mysteries set to film The Book of Jackson.

I’ve watched The Book of Jackson and it was nice to take the time to really have a heartfelt goodbye for Slugger Jackson. He was taken so suddenly at the end of Season 10, it was hard to really grasp his exit.
Kristian Bruun: Yeah, it was nice. At the beginning of Season 11, we’re worried about Murdoch being framed for murder and that Crabtree is OK. They did have a nice little salute to him at the end of the episode that misted me up when I watched it. But it was so nice for me to have the opportunity to put the uniform back on and say goodbye my own way. I was pleasantly surprised and honoured to come back and put the uniform on.

What was the production schedule like? When did you film The Book of Jackson? It sounds like it was after Season 10 wrapped.
It was sort of similar to how we did the previous year’s web series, Beyond Time, which I was a part of as well. It’s best to film it when the season is up and running when everybody is around, the sets are in order and nothing has been shut down for the winter. Basically, they use the weekends to film the web series, so it’s extremely daunting for the cast and crew that are there all the time because they’ll shoot the regular work week and then will come in on Saturday and Sunday to shoot the web series, followed by another work week. It creates two straight weeks of super-long days. I think we shot this in November, so it was already near the end of the [filming] season and everyone was exhausted. And they fit so much into those two days. I mean, I remember working on the last one and trying to cram so much time travel jargon into my brain. It was such a blast but it’s a whirlwind.

So, I came in in November—I’ve been living in Los Angeles for a year now—and at the end of Season 10, we had a feeling one of us was going to die. We filmed the season finale and didn’t know who it was going to be at the time. I wish I’d known it was going to be me at the time because I would have taken the opportunity to say goodbye to the cast and the crew. But, they wanted to figure out what would be best for the fans and the mystery. I wanted to come back because I love the show, but I also understood that logistically I was the one actor who had moved away and that was just a timing thing because of my career and looking for the next thing after Orphan Black. I knew I was on the chopping block but I was hoping it wouldn’t be me. [Laughs.] But that’s the way it goes.

I was very sad to get that email from Peter Mitchell. He’s such a funny guy. He was like, ‘You’ll land on your feet, don’t worry.’ He wasn’t worried at all; meanwhile, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do? I had two shows but they just ended at the same time!’ It was stressful, but having the chance to say goodbye this way and see the crew one last time … who knows, maybe this isn’t the last time. Who knows? But it was certainly nice to come back and do some flashbacks with everybody.

It must have been emotional to return for those two days after time away and reunite with the cast and crew working that weekend.
There were a lot of strong hugs. [Laughs.]

It’s interesting to hear the circumstances surrounding your departure from Murdoch. I did think perhaps you asked to leave because you were heading to L.A. on the heels of Orphan Black ending.
I was a little bit concerned people would think that; that I had left the show for so-called greener pastures. That’s absolutely not the case and I want the fans to know that. It was a story decision and if I were to do that, I would have released a statement. It was not my decision but it’s one that I fully understand. [Laughs.] It was almost like, ‘Sorry we killed you off, here’s a web series!’

I was sorry that the relationship between Jackson and Watts wasn’t explored more fully before Jackson’s demise.
Daniel Maslany and I are good friends now because we’ve gotten to work together and because I’m really, really good friends with his sister, Tatiana, of course. I loved working with Daniel because we just had so much fun together with the dynamic between Jackson and Watts. They are two very different characters, which always makes for good TV. We were just starting to find our stride as those characters and having fun working together.

Jackson is a wonderful character. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is fiercely loyal to his friends.
They really gave me the opportunity to make him more human. Getting a chance to grow a character is an honour and you don’t always get that chance. Jackson started off as this rival constable from another station way back in Season 5 and grew into another member of the gang. In the memorial to Jackson and the picture up on the wall, they don’t forget him.

Watch all six episodes of The Book of Jackson via CBC.ca.

Were you happy to see Jackson back in the world of Murdoch Mysteries? Do you have a message for Kristian Bruun? Let me know in the comments below.




Links: ‘Orphan Black’ series finale

From Dominic Patten of Deadline:

Link: ‘Orphan Black’ Co-Creator Talks Series Finale, Movie Reunion & #Clone Club
“We imagined that the finale really was going to boil down to Sarah and Helena, and that we were going to have to deal with P.T. Westmoreland. We knew that, critically, we were going to have a really kind of dirty, awful, nasty birth, and that that was going to be part of kind of this two-part finale.” Continue reading.

From Amber Dowling of The Hollywood Reporter:

Link: ‘Orphan Black’ Star Tatiana Maslany Talks Finale, Possible Sequel and What’s Next
“If there was some story that we really wanted to tell that fit in the OB universe and it was vital and different and new then that would be super cool. But we finished this before it trailed on too long so hopefully it left people wanting more as opposed to being like, “Thank God that’s over.” Continue reading.

From Devon Maloney of Vanity Fair:

Link: Orphan Black Science Consultant Cosima Herter Breaks Down the Series Finale
“We spent a lot of time thinking about how to depict prolongevity science, both in its glory and in its sinisterness. Who gets to live forever? It’s kind of insane. But there are so many different ways people are exploring how to prolong life, be it calorie restriction or eating chocolate and drinking red wine, or all the geographical areas we call the Blue Zone, where people seem to live far past 100 years old. There are cult followings, especially in the Silicon Valley area, where people like Peter Thiel are funneling billions of dollars into almost cult-like research.” Continue reading.

From Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly:

Link: Orphan Black creators answer series finale burning questions
“John and I sort of had a general ending in mind for quite a while. Helena’s been running around pregnant two seasons, so we knew that the finale was going to be having the twins, and technically we talked about that scene and how much that would mean to boil it down to Sarah and Helena.” Continue reading.

From Keisha Hatchett of TV Guide:

Link: Orphan Black Stars Break Down that Bittersweet Series Finale
“I felt satisfied and a bit…It was bittersweet but I think that is what the ending is supposed to be. Some people probably interpret it as a happy ending. I didn’t interpret it that way. It’s not tidy. I mean, our show has never been tidy. I think that’s the point. And relationships and human beings are not tidy so it felt appropriate.” Continue reading. 

From Devon Maloney of Vulture:

Link: Orphan Black Showrunners Graeme Manson and John Fawcett on the ‘Emotional’ Series Finale
“I think we’re remarkably close to what we were planning. Of course, we didn’t have details. [But] around season three, we knew how the [rest of the series] was going to shape itself out. A while ago, John and I looked at our original notes from 2001, about what the story would be. Even those first cursory notes really have the seed of Orphan Black in them. All the sister characters are laid out.” Continue reading. 

From Jean Bentley of Marie Claire:

Link: Tatiana Maslany Says Goodbye to ‘Orphan Black’
“The finale was sort of like a two-parter—it had high-action intensity in the first half that felt connected to the world that we’ve been living in, which is so extreme and horrifying. But what I was really excited about, and what I think we were all interested in, was that quiet after—what happens when you actually have freedom but people aren’t able to move on? “ Continue reading. 

From Vlada Gelman of TVLine:

Link: Orphan Black Boss on Burning Qs About Kira’s Dad, Charlotte’s Future and More
“It’s a nice, little open thing of what could happen to Charlotte. I know that the fandom discussed her being adopted by Cosima and Delphine. I love that story, too. That’s a beautiful one to have in your imagination. I second that.” Continue reading.

From Scott Huver of Mashable:

Link: The touching way Tatiana Maslany said goodbye to her clones for the ‘Orphan Black’ finale
“It was weirdly sad saying goodbye to each individual. I think there was a week there where every night was somebody different. Different crew members were sad to say goodbye to this clone, or sad to say goodbye to this one. So it was a real intense process.” Continue reading.




Orphan Black 510: Co-creator Graeme Manson on the ending he always envisioned

Spoiler warning: Do not read this article until you have seen Orphan Black Episode 510, “To Right the Wrongs of Many.”

“I survived you. We survived you, me and my sisters, together.” —Sarah

In the end, Orphan Black‘s Big Bad, dying eugenicist P.T. Westmorland (Stephen McHattie), was dispatched less than halfway through the series finale, his self-important, patriarchal sputterings cut short when Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) smashed an oxygen tank into his skull. Then the show turned its attention to what really mattered: the enduring sisterhood of Sarah, Alison, Cosima and Helena.

After five seasons of trauma and loss, the clones were given a relatively happy ending. A six-month flash forward showed that Helena was raising her twin boys with Alison and Donnie (Kristian Bruun), Cosima and Delphine (Évelyne Brochu) were traveling the world to cure hundreds of Leda clones (with a list given to them by Rachel), and Sarah was struggling to raise Kira (Skyler Wexler) without Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy)but finding strength and comfort in the support of her diverse group of sisters.

According to Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson, it was the ending he had envisioned when he originally pitched the series to BBC America several years ago. “I think myselfand all of uswanted a happy ending,” he says. “We wanted enough time to take a breath, come back and see what freedom meant to these sestras we’ve come to know so well.”

That the sisters defeated Neolution by banding together and embracing their differences also means a lot to Manson. “You know, a show about clones that at its core is about diversity, there’s something ironic and beautiful in that premise,” he says, “and to pull it off is kind of still a little bit flabbergasting.”

Manson joined us by phone to tell us more about the series finale, the show’s influence on Canadian television and what he plans to do next.

Overall, Orphan Black’s ending was happy and hopeful, with all the core clones surviving. How important was it to you that all the main sisters make it to the end?
Graeme Manson: I think it was very important. Behind the scenes, our four core sisters were off limits. It would come up once in a while, like when we needed to do something dramatic, like to kill someone, but then it would be like, ‘OK, who? Are you serious? Are you gonna kill Alison? Are you going kill to Cosima? We’re going to have to carry that?’ So in our minds those four sisters, including Helena, were safe. But then Rachel’s head was on and off the chopping block right up until early this season, but we made a decision that it was dramatically more interesting, and it would be a deeper and more interesting journey for Tatiana to play this sort of partial redemption of Rachel.
You’ve said that you knew the way you wanted to series to end when you originally pitched it, yet I understand that you made some fairly significant changes—such as moving parts of the action from the Island to Dyad—to the final two episodes. What was the reason for that?

Well, I would argue that they were, in fact, not major story changes really. Like the resetting of what we planned to do, closer to home, I mean the biggest thing [that moving the action from the Island to Dyad] did with the story is allow us to have the supportive characters play a bigger role. But it wouldn’t have made any difference. We would have come back and spent the final two acts at home anyway, we would have cut ahead six months after Sarah’s climax had occurred on the Island. So the change wasn’t actually that massive. What was difficult about the change was that it late in the game, and it was hard on production.

So that six-month jump forward was the ending you’d always envisioned?
I had a shape for the finale that jumped six months later, after the climax of it, after we dispatched the Big Bad, and I think myselfand all of uswanted a happy ending. We wanted enough time to take a breath, come back and see what freedom meant to these sestras we’ve come to know so well. And I think it was pretty early on in the season that we envisioned that Sarah was the stuck one. The brave woman who we’ve followed since she got off a train on the way home to steal her daughter and has gone through so much and has grown up and gained maturity and stepped into her late mother’s own shoes, that she would be the one who would still need to be carried over the line by her sisters. I think that was pretty solid pretty early. Quite honestly, we had large parts of the finale in mind since the end of last season.

I really appreciated that Sarah didn’t get a pat ending, that she still had some of the restlessness and rebelliousness in her that she’s had since the beginning. 
Yeah, she was in danger of being right where she was when we met her. She was in danger of taking Kira away again. She was in danger of running away. But over the course of this thing, Sarah has learned responsibility.

Meanwhile, Cosima, Alison and Helena seem to finish the series with a sense of peace and purpose. Beyond the flash forward you showed us in the finale, have you given any thought to how the clones will spend the rest of their lives?
That’s entirely up to the fans. It really is. You know, I have ideas on where we could pick up another story, but I set them free, too. I don’t sit around wondering what they’re doing today. [Laughs.]

Since you mentioned it, are there more Orphan Black stories to tell in the future? Could we see another series or a film?
Yeah. I think that there’s a chance. I think we all need a break from it, and I think the characters need a break. But we’ve talked about a feature. I’d love to think of that someday.

I was thrilled that Cosima and Delphine got a happy ending, which—as you know—is pretty rare for a lesbian couple on TV. Did you always envision them making it to the end, or were you at all influenced by the backlash the show received when Delphine was almost killed off?
No. The truth is that I think I really understood the ‘Kill Your Gays’ trope, perhaps more than a few people as we were driving toward the dramatic end of [Season 3], and I absolutely refused to have that character die. I was OK with a cliffhanger that we could claw our way back from, but I was 100 per cent against ever killing [Delphine]. I knew we were going to take heat even cliffhanging it, but as long as we could bring her back, I was willing to take the heat.

But bringing her back was very difficult. I mean it was pretty obvious what was going on when you realize that Évelyne Brochu was the lead in another series. I mean, I don’t know what all the hoopla was about. [Laughs.] I mean, come, look, she’s got another series, what do you think happened here? And the fact that she was carrying another series made it extremely difficult, but I was 100 per cent determined to bring her back, even though I knew that we would get her back very, very lightly in the next season. I made the case hard to our people, to the producers to keep the thread alive, and I made the pitch hard to Évelyne and said, ‘This is not the end. We want to bring you back. It’s the right thing for the show. It’s the right thing for these characters. You started the show, you’ve gotta end the show.’ And Évelyne really took it to heart, and we made it work.

What was the final scene that you filmed before wrapping the series?
The final moment was a piece of the birth with Sarah already wrapped. It was Tatiana as Helena and Art [Kevin Hanchard]. That final clone scene and that amazing birth were our final two days.

Was it very emotional for everyone?
It was four o’clock in the morning, and starting at about one o’clock in the morning, the cast started arrivingpeople that had long wrapped, crew who had been wrapped, people from past seasons, producers, network people. The number of people behind the monitors grew and grew until there were about 70 people behind the monitors waiting for that final cut. And it was super emotional. Everybody just stood in silence for a little while, and then people began to speak, there were testimonies. Maria Doyle Kennedy sang a song. And then we ate bagels with cream cheese and had champagne.

Orphan Black is credited with ushering in a Golden Age of Canadian television. What does that mean to you?
First of all, we’re thankful for coming up in the Canadian system and getting a show over the wall and being given the reins by our network and by our producers. And anything that we did to inspire others, whether that be business models or to inspire more confidence in the business or inspire more confidence in creativity, giving creatives full reign, that’s just great. We came up in Canada, you know? I’ve spent my whole career here. If it is true that the show has done that, then I’m very proud of that. You know, I’m certainly happy to see so many writers and actors that have come through the show going on to other stuff, and to keep the bloodline going I think is important to all of us.

What about Orphan Black makes you the proudest?
Oh, wow. I think it has something to do with wrestling this main character, Sarah, through this long journey and spending so much time with a character that formed the backbone of the show. And then working with so many incredibly talented women like Tatiana, like [science consultant] Cosima Herter. To have created a show that really did manage to break some molds as far as putting women at the centre and a show that managed to have a message underneath really fun storytelling and the action, edge-of-your-seat shit.

But that’s not as important as a show that’s main thrust, main messageespecially in this political climateis that there is strength in diversity. That’s a biological truth, and at its core, that’s what this show is about. You know, a show about clones that at its core is about diversity, there’s something ironic and beautiful in that premise, and to pull it off is kind of still a little bit flabbergasting.

What’s next for you?
I can only tease, but suffice to say that I’m continuing to explore some of the themes of Orphan Black in terms of science, citizen science, the limitations of science. I’m continuing to explore these themes with the real Cosima, Cosima Herter, with [series co-producer] Mackenzie Donaldson and with some other members of the Orphan Black family.

And so many people who have come up from Orphan Black are now onto their next things. Some of them are original. Some people have gone higher and further. I continue to be inspired by the themes and ethics and political stance of Orphan Black and continue to be super proud of everybody else and their own next steps, too.

Is there anything else you’d like to say now that the show’s final trip has ended?
Just a huge thank you from me and all of us at Orphan Black to Clone Club and all the supporters of the show.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.




Links: Forget Ratings. ‘Orphan Black’ Had the #CloneClub

From John Koblin of The New York Times:

Link: Forget Ratings. ‘Orphan Black’ Had the #CloneClub
“Orphan Black” never had huge ratings. A July episode on BBC America, for example, garnered just 645,000 viewers, ranking it 33rd among scripted cable TV series that week.

But what the show does have is the #CloneClub, the name its fiercely loyal fans collectively go by when they gather online. And BBC America has done everything it can to cultivate their dedication. Continue reading.

From Norman Wilner of Now Toronto:

Link: Farewell, Orphan Black: a series that managed to be everything all at once
The key to good television is that you’re drawn in by the premise and you fall in love with the characters, and I can think of few shows that prove this as well as Orphan Black. What started out as a murky conspiracy thriller with a nifty gimmick has expanded into something unquantifiable – a big, shaggy narrative mess that still feels, from moment to moment, like something electric and wonderful. Continue reading.

From Jennifer Still of Glamour:

Link: We’re Losing ‘Orphan Black’ Right When We Need It the Most
As Orphan Black winds down for good—the series finale airs August 12—it’s hard not to feel simultaneously empowered and a little depressed about saying goodbye. If ever there were a time when we need portrayals of powerful women who refuse to become victims to their own circumstances, it’s in the current political climate. Continue reading.