All posts by Chris Jancelewicz

Chris has been an entertainment reporter for almost a decade, covering Canadian and international TV and movies for numerous publications. Mostly known for his work at The Huffington Post, Chris has conducted hundreds of celebrity interviews, including Hugh Hefner, Scarlett Johansson and Michael C. Hall -- just to name a few. You can follow him on Twitter at @CJancelewicz.

Review: Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? on Orphan Black

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 3 of Orphan Black, titled “Formalized, Complex, and Costly.

Oh my god, the clones are actually sisters and brothers! OK, so maybe it’s not that exciting as far as revelations go (in fact, it’s kind of obvious that they would be related), but it does add another dynamic to Orphan Black, and even offers the possibility that they can team up and take on Dyad … and maybe even the Prolethians, who are back in fine flower-dress form this week.

It’s hard to tell who the real enemy is in Episode 3. Is it Rudy, who had to kill his own brother because he was defective and it was “protocol”? He goes to extreme measures all the time, but we can’t forget that he’s had a military life, is a messed-up clone, and is on an assigned mission to bring back the genetic material.

Is it Mark? The poor guy genuinely wants to separate himself from the clones and just go off with Gracie. Sure, he tortures Willard Finch (Nicholas Campbell looking his grizzliest) for information on Henrik’s scientific work and inadvertently kills him, but Mark’s motivations are as pure as Sarah’s.

Sarah is looking for Helena, and will stop at nothing to get it. If it means killing someone, she will. So does that make her any less of a villain than Mark? Nope. We sympathize with Sarah because we know her struggles. We don’t know the male clones’ stories—at least not in full. And hey, we’ve gotten to know Mommy a bit better now, and she seems to be a few shades of crazy. Having her raise a bunch of boys (which is what I’m assuming at this point) under a military structure probably provided some serious scars, both internal and external.

To put it simply, I’m having trouble figuring out who to root for. Obviously I love Helena and ultimately want Sarah to succeed in her quest to bring her home, but I feel badly for the Castor clones. I’m a tad concerned that these guys were just introduced to be killed off one by one, with Rudy and Mommy eating bullets in the Season 3 finale.

I’m assuming Mark is dead at this point. If Bonnie (Kristin Booth, represent!) missed from that distance with that rifle, then she’s a terrible shot. So that’s two Castor clones in as many episodes. It’s going to be impossible to form any real attachment to them, and makes me really fear that one-by-one concern, above.

This main-storyline tedium is what makes the Cosima-Scott-Felix brain extraction so fun, and so necessary. As disgusting as it was—I had to stop eating for the duration of the scene—it was a nice break from the cryptic conversations and runarounds of the plot. There was humour, amazing special effects, and hey, it’s interesting! We want that science nerd stuff, it’s engaging; it also brings the story forward when we learn that the Castor clones are suffering from irreversible brain disintegration. And who doesn’t love the occasional Felix rejoinder?

The other other subplot is ticking along according to plan: Alison and Donnie are successfully winning over the local housewife population with their drug dealing, and getting support for her school trustee campaign. I still stand by this subplot as being totally ridiculous and pretty unrealistic, but this is a show about clones who’ve found another group of clones, so who am I to judge? The scene in the garage was entertaining, mostly because watching Alison one-up anyone is a joy. We’ll see if this matures into anything of substance, or if it’s just another distraction from the density of the main plot.

One thing I will ask for is: more Helena. I can’t tear my eyes away when she’s on-screen. She’s either going to beat the Castor clones, or join them, and honestly I don’t know which one I prefer.

Clone of the Week: Helena. Her sassy comebacks make my night.

Random Thoughts:

  • Holy Canadian TV actor cameos! Nicholas Campbell as Willard Finch and Kristin Booth reprising her Bonnie role, all in one night! Such a pleasure.
  • The scene with Rachel undergoing rehabilitative therapy was spellbinding. Couldn’t get enough. Her dialogue reiterated to me that she will eventually go after/try to kill Delphine. So she can’t say “key” right now, but in a matter of weeks she’ll be back to the same ol’ Rachel, except with a badass eyepatch.
  • Did anyone else hear Cosima still coughing? That scared me.
  • Alison: “Go sell a house, Marcie!” and then “I need to cut something.”
  • Why was Sarah still talking/whispering into her phone when she’s trying to sneak into the barn? Who does that? Stealth 101: No phone talking.
  • Shout-out to Jilly’s, the now-gone strip joint in downtown Toronto, which makes an appearance in the background when Sarah and Art question the midwife.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Space.

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Review: Gains and losses on Orphan Black

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 2 of Orphan Black, titled “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis.

One down already, and we’re only two episodes in!

Deranged and obviously defective Project Castor clone Seth was shot to death by his brother Rudy, who either couldn’t bear to see Seth suffer anymore, or couldn’t be bothered to continue cleaning up his messes. Seth, we hardly knew ye. I will miss that moustache. It seems rather early in the Orphan Black season to bid farewell to such a potentially rich character (not to mention the possible dynamics between he and his brothers), but it might be a device to draw our attention to the obvious comparison pairing: Helena and Sarah.

I could argue that Helena is “defective” like Seth, but I don’t really see her that way. I see her as a product of abuse, hyper-intelligent, and street-smart. Yes, her one confidante at the moment is a scorpion, but you try being in a crate for an extended period of time and see how you’re doing! Anyway, we can see how much Sarah is driven by her desire to save her sister—no matter what the cost. Enough, in this case, to send Kira to Iceland with Cal (oh, Cal) so she can resume her Helena search-and-rescue without endangering her daughter.

And Helena, even though she’s been sold to the bad guys by Mrs. S., is still loyal to her sisters. When Dr. Coady (“Mommy”) tries to sway her with platitudes and compliments, Helena simply utters “I don’t believe you.” At this point, she still believes she has an ally in Sarah and the girls, and there’s no way Sarah betrayed her. She’s right, of course, but it’s only a matter of time (and waterboarding) before Helena is reprogrammed to go against her fellow Project Leda members. Lest we forget that she’s pregnant, too—a very valuable thing to every camp on the show.

Seeing Cal, Paul and Art for the first time in Season 3 reminded me just how weak the male characters are (with the exceptions of Felix and Donnie). Cal exists as a device to take care of Kira and physically protect someone when he needs to, plus he’s easy on the eyes; Paul is also the stereotypical “hot” guy, but he doesn’t really do much of anything other than threaten on occasion and lurk in the shadows; and oh man, Art. I can see he’s no better at policing than he was in the series premiere.

On one hand, as I’ve expounded above, it’s irritating to have all these fringe male characters (other than the clones) just popping up when necessary to move the plot forward. But on the other hand, it’s interesting to see the gender flip, and I wonder how many current TV shows have unjustifiably weak female characters, merely there to be eye candy. On a show like Orphan Black, which is female-strong, I think it’s an acceptable thing (for now) to have these supplemental people contribute now and then.

Ari Millen was more prominently featured in this episode, and that was a pleasure. Obviously an outstanding actor, he brings a lot of charisma to the male clones. He is at once convincingly scary (as Rudy) but also sincere (as Mark). I think it’s going to be fun watching him unpack the characters over the remaining eight episodes. His scenes with Tatiana are just a joy.

I am also a big fan of the nerd duo, Cosima and Scott. With Delphine “away in Europe” (a.k.a. Evelyne Brochu shooting another TV show), the two scientists are working together to figure out where they stand with Dyad. They’ve got the key to Ethan’s work, and that’s their ace in the hole. We’ll have to wait and see how they wield it.

As for the Alison, Donnie and Ramon side-plot, I don’t want to spend too much time on it because I think it’s ridiculous. As much as I love to watch the married couple bicker and be silly, the idea of running for school-board trustee while being everyone’s drug dealer just makes no sense. Why would anyone willingly elect their drug dealer in a position involved with their child’s education? Alison would have no power over these people. Sure, she knows that they do drugs, but so what? Surely there are other ways to get money. I don’t know, the whole thing just seems very random.

We’ve trudged through the beginning here, but the through-line for the season seems clear: Sarah is now on the hunt for Helena, phalanxed by Mrs. S., Felix and her sisters, and Project Castor (along with Mommy) and Dyad are after them. Like Sarah says: “Now we find Helena and finish this shit.”

Keep it simple, Orphan Black.

Clone of the Week: Rudy. Convincingly terrifying and engaging, I wanted to see more of him. Also, second episode in a row featuring Ari Millen’s ass.

Random Thoughts:

  • Anyone else counting the minutes until Mrs. S. and Mommy throw down? Mother-figure fight!
  • Thanks to the readers for pointing out my errors last week—I could swear Alison said “diddle,” but apparently it was “doodle.” Also, the new Leda clone is spelled “Krystal,” not “Crystal.” Love you Orphan Black fans, so dedicated!
  • Felix on the new clone phones: “Blue as the skies of Lesbos!”
  • Donnie: “Fist me.”
  • The fake moustache budget for this show has now substantially declined.
  • That hockey-in-the-house scene with Cal, Kira and Sarah was so contrived I had to hold in my laughter.
  • Michiel Huisman (Cal) is so drastically underused on this show, it’s almost criminal. See: Game of Thrones.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Space.

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Review: Them’s the Breaks on Orphan Black

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3 premiere of Orphan Black, titled “The Weight of This Combination.

We’re back in Clone Country, and things are just as complicated … perhaps too complicated. The plot and goings-on in the Orphan Black Season 3 premiere are somewhat muddled, and at times it feels like we’re being over-explained to. To be fair, there’s a lot happening with the clones (now both male and female), Dyad, Topside, Mrs. S., Paul, the “cleaner” Ferdinand, Delphine, and some strange plotline with school board trustee Marcie and our favourite suburban couple, Alison and Donnie.

Thank goodness for the Orphan Black humour and visuals, otherwise this would have been a very tough slog. Underneath all of the exposition thrust upon us, there is a simple thread to follow, one that I intend to focus on rather than all the extraneous information that doesn’t really matter in the end. The bottom line is this: Rachel, Topside, Dyad and Project Castor are out to destroy the Project Leda clones, and the sisters have to band together in order to stop them. There. Easy, isn’t it?

The bizarro baby shower dream opening scene is one for the ages: saturated colour, reference to ox liver, Felix at the barbecue, pregnant Helena in her Sunday best. I didn’t believe it was real for one second, but hey, it was still entertaining. And only Helena would have a talking scorpion feeding her encouragement. This is the kind of fun I want from Orphan Black, but don’t always get.

Going by the ads and commercials, I was expecting this episode to dedicate more time explaining Project Castor, their motivations, and who each of the male clones were. While we saw them all, except for Mark (Rudy talking to Sarah and doing naked yoga/exercise, Seth beating up Mrs. S., and Miller freeing Helena)—we didn’t really get much. The show is still focusing on (and trying to make clear) the whole Topside debacle, along with the revelation about the Helsinki slaughter in 2006. I have a feeling Episode 2 will delve deeper into the guys’ backstories.

But for now, we get a lot about Cosima and Delphine, which I don’t mind. Their break-up scene was a heartbreaker, and hearing Tatiana’s crushing “I love you,” complete with cracking voice and tears, was enough to make my chin quiver. For the first time (to me, anyway), Delphine was awesome, concocting elaborate schemes and pushing down on Rachel’s empty eye socket. I was squirming away during that scene.

Straight-up, I’m worried that Rachel will kill Delphine. In fact, I’d bet money on it; but not before she and Cosima have their reunion. Their break-up seemed kind of unnecessary anyway, but I accepted it because Delphine is probably just trying to protect Cosima.

Alison and Donnie’s school board trustee story is out of left field. At least it’ll provide a less-intense side story when things heat up among the clones. It also brings us the glory of Kristian Bruun and his Donnie character, which I suspect is why they’re doing this story in the first place. No longer a monitor, Donnie needs to be integrated into the plot somehow. Also, Marcie? She looks so evil, she’s either A) involved with Topside somehow, B) involved with Project Castor somehow, or C) is both. Whatever the case, don’t trust her.

And I know I’ve said this before, but can I just shout out one more time to Tatiana? I never tire of watching her play a clone playing a clone. She masters it, from the walk to the tone to the accent, and it is a marvellous display of acting. Bravo. Just never play Tony again.

Next week, one of the Project Castor clones has Xs over his eyes. WHY? Can’t wait to find out.

Clone of the Week: Helena. Hands-down, she is the most entertaining clone, from the scorpion-talking to the dream sequence. More, please.

Random Thoughts:

  • Felix: “Delphine has your number? We definitely need new clone phones.”
  • Alison: “Holy diddle, here we go!”
  • Big nerd props to Scott’s periodic table of elements T-shirt. Not gonna lie, I kind of want it.
  • Donnie: “They took the Taurus.”
  • Another clone! Crystal Goderich, blonde, sexy, seductress … hope we get to see more of her.
  • Felix: “Don’t these people know you didn’t even finish high school?!”
  • Ari Millen didn’t have much to do in this premiere, aside from looking crazy and doing naked pull-ups, but I especially liked his Seth character (the moustache). I think he has the most depth, and I enjoyed his mini-breakdown in the kitchen with Mrs. S.
  • Wherever Sarah and Felix go drinking, down by that river—does NOT look appealing. Time for a new spot to set up the lawn chairs and talk clone.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Space.

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Ari Millen steps into the Orphan Black spotlight

Canadian actor Ari Millen is poised for great things. From one viewpoint, his position is enviable: he’s playing the new male clones (all four that we know of!) on sci-fi TV zeitgeist Orphan Black and is the focal point of Season 3. Looking at it another way, it’s downright terrifying—his performance(s) will be a make-or-break scenario for the show, and he’s stepping into some gigantic shoes after castmate Tatiana Maslany expertly played more than six different clones for two seasons.

TV, eh? spoke with Millen in a dark-lit apartment in Toronto. Simply put, Millen is an absorbing man, very passionate about his roles, and his eyes have that thing where they stare directly into your soul. His gaze never wavers, and his slow, deliberate tone foreshadows what’s most likely going to be an intense season of Orphan Black.

Trained in classical theatre at Toronto’s Ryerson University, Millen brings a solid repertoire along with his striking look. Yes, he’s not just a pretty face. Maslany, also schooled in theatre and improv, transcends the typical TV actor in the same way. Together the duo are a formidable pair, and on screen they deliver the goods. There is a tangible exchange between the two, and Millen did his best to learn the tricks of playing multiple clones from his predecessor.


If they were the Seven Dwarves, Seth would be Dopey. I look like my maternal grandfather with that moustache, it’s kind of scary.


“I sat in on the clone dancing party shoot in the Season 2 finale, just to get a taste of what that sort of scene is like, where you play different characters,” says Millen. “No one spoke to me about how to do it, I kind of learned through osmosis. All actors have different ways of getting into things, but I definitely learned from watching Tat.”

It is quite the challenge. Millen is playing four Project Castor clones—probably more as the season progresses—and like Maslany’s characters, they vary wildly. There’s Mark, who we already know, who’s run off with Gracie. Rudy, who we saw in the Season 2 finale, is the “alpha-male peacock” (Millen’s words) with the scar, always looking to push somebody else’s buttons. Seth is the moustachioed clone, the goofball.

orphan_seth

“If they were the Seven Dwarves, he would be Dopey,” laughs Millen. “I look like my maternal grandfather with that moustache, it’s kind of scary.”

Perhaps the most intense and multi-faceted character Millen is going to play this season is Miller, a military-minded clone who lost his leg in the field. He is sharp, refuses to take any pity, and still resolves to be the best soldier he can be. Despite his disability, he yearns to be top military brass. From these four characters, it’s apparent there is a wide spectrum of personality traits Millen has to hit.

“For me, the whole process was done completely in reverse,” he says. “Normally I would develop the character after reading the scripts and figure out who the person was. When the guys were introduced, the two ones at the end of Season 2, I don’t even know if the writers or producers knew who they were, as characters. I only had visuals on them for most of the summer leading up to shooting. I knew Mark, obviously. For Rudy, Miller and Seth, it wasn’t until I sat in the makeup chair and they adjusted the hair or added the scar or moustache, then I could figure out who they were.”

Millen has been appearing here and there in a number of projects over the past couple of years. (“I died six times last year!” he jokes.) Again, like Maslany, who starred in several independent films before making waves at Sundance and ultimately getting the gig on Orphan Black, Millen has appeared in several TV shows (and a couple films) in small-yet-diverse roles, often starring next to some of Canada’s finest talent.


I was so excited to get to play more than one character, sometimes in one day. I can’t wait to explore different parts of my personality, and make them bigger.


He played The Shadow King in Reign alongside Megan Follows, deliciously chewing the scenery as a fraudster. He played former CIA analyst and whistleblower Adam Wexler (think Edward Snowden) in 12 Monkeys, and had bit roles in both Nikita and Rookie Blue. Film-wise, he appeared in retro-horror movie Hellmouth and the as-yet-released werewolf flick Hunter’s Moon, which stars none other than legendary actor Colm Feore.

Weirdly, Millen’s acting trajectory looks very similar to Feore’s, and that is not lost on him.

“Colm Feore is definitely someone whose career I admire,” says Millen. “If I could emulate his career, I would count myself very lucky. That, for me, is the pinnacle of making it —someone who can do a healthy balance of film, television and theatre. And it’s on the world stage too.”

All of Millen’s experience culminated for Orphan Black, and he poured himself into the roles with every single ounce of energy.

“It certainly is a challenge unlike any other that I’ll encounter in the acting world, but it’s been nothing but exciting,” he says. “I was so excited to get to play more than one character, sometimes in one day. I can’t wait to explore different parts of my personality, and make them bigger.”

Orphan_miller_143

He still considers himself somewhat of a rookie in the industry, and is set to do what is probably the right thing—ignore the Internet—when it comes to comments or blogs about the show. Knowing how rabid Orphan Black fans are, and how critical they can be, Millen doesn’t want it to colour his performances in any way going forward.

“I’m going to ignore a lot of it,” he says. “Positive or negative. Thankfully we’re done shooting. The danger might be, if I read it, if it was positive, I’d be like, ‘Yeah I’m doing great!’ and then lose sight of what I’d found. If it was negative, I’d start changing the way I approached it. I’m not going to go looking for it, that’s for sure. I’m too green. I haven’t built up a callus yet. I need more time in the industry before I can laugh it off.”

But he couldn’t be happier being a part of Orphan Black. As most of the cast and crew have attested, the feeling on-set is one of harmony, a collective group giving their all to deliver.

“It’s very seldom that you get the entire package,” he says. “This is one of those projects where everyone across the board is equally enthused about bringing the product to life. It’s never going to work on Orphan Black unless everyone is invested. It’s a very good, supportive and healthy atmosphere.”

And what can we expect from Season 3?

“It’s a really exciting season. The introduction of Project Castor is forcing Project Leda to batten down the hatches and become more cohesive. It’s really challenging Sarah and her sisters. They’re nobody to mess with!”

Orphan Black returns Saturday, April 18, at 9 p.m. ET on Space, CTV, Bravo and MTV.

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