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Orphan Black is being revived… as a podcast (again)

Tatiana Maslany (count four of her) and the cast of Orphan Black.


BBC America

Occasionally, long-running TV shows — Veronica Mars, Breaking Bad — cap off an era with a movie. The cast and creators of lauded Canadian sci-fi thriller Orphan Black floated that idea back in 2017, when season 5 of the beloved TV series came to an end. It didn’t pan out. What did pan out might be even rarer.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter, a podcast streaming on prolific sci-fi station Realm, is a continuation of the Orphan Black story in audio form. It catches up with the clones who discovered each other across Canada and the rest of the world (the title “Orphan Black” is eventually revealed to be the name of journals about the orphaned sisters in the show).

The podcast has already been running for one season. That season was the Tatiana Maslany show.

Maslany, who won an Emmy for playing 13 clones on screen (there are hundreds in total), took on the familiar position of performing every single role for the podcast, including the narrator.

The Next Chapter

Season 2 of The Next Chapter might be a little easier for Maslany. It sees the podcast transform into an almost completely different series.

The TV cast is back to voice the characters Maslany covered in season 1. Evelyne Brochu reprises her role as scientist Delphine, one half of smart-is-sexy couple known collectively as Cophine (Maslany plays the other half Cosima). Jordan Gavaris plays con artist Felix; and Kristian Bruun plays Donnie, homemaker and occasional drug dealer.

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Cosima and Delphine, aka Cophine.


BBC America

The other roles, including the narrator, are performed by new voice actors. But Maslany, still playing multiple parts — including some new clones — doesn’t get much of a breather after all.

‘I haven’t said goodbye’

While they didn’t record the podcast together — Maslany said her portion was finished in a whirlwind four days — the cast did reunite for a virtual panel on Thursday.

“It’s strange — I don’t feel like I said goodbye yet, because I feel like it lives on in a way,” said Brochu, on what it was like when the show ended and she had to say goodbye to Delphine. “I feel like people carry those characters … So yeah, I haven’t said goodbye.”

Creating new clones

Maslany discovered how “hard” it was doing the voices of her TV co-stars in season 1.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, this will be easy,'” Maslany said. “I know these guys. And then I was like, ‘Whoa, it’s so hard.’ This is why I enlisted [the other cast members]. I can’t do it.” Maslany had to go back and watch clips from the TV show and mimic what she heard.

When it came to creating new clones, such as Vivi Valdez, a CIA agent and the adopted daughter of Cuban immigrants, the process was a little different. “It really came down to rhythm and vocal tension and musicality,” Maslany said, also using real people as references. “Those were my wigs and eyeliners to play with.”

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Helena.


BBC America

A brave new world

This season finds the characters in brand-new territory, in a world where the identity of the clones has been exposed to the public. Anti-clone protestors threaten Helena’s (Maslany) book tour, while Delphine and Cosima have an ethical issue to contend with.

“I understood their dilemma when it comes to revealing how they made this pregnancy possible,” Brochu said on Delphine being pregnant. “Sometimes a lot of people struggle between this world of sharing — you’re supposed to share to help everybody — but there’s also a notion of privacy.”

More surprises

Felix, an artist and ex-sex worker in the show, brought his own surprises.

“He made some very traditional choices that surprised me,” Gavaris said. Felix settles down with Colin, his boyfriend from the show. But make no mistake: “He still finds a way to get involved in the drama.”

As for suburban couple Alison and Donnie?

They have their own reality TV show.

“At first I was like, are you crazy?” Bruun said on discovering the plot line. “But at the same time, I think one thing that’s so much fun about Alison and Donnie is that you take these ordinary people and you thrust them into extraordinary situations.”

Ultimately, it’s a testament to the way Orphan Black balances its dark themes — such as identity, agency and the ethics of modern science — with fully formed characters who produce comedy gold.

“Orphan Black is a world that’s quite dark in many ways,” Bruun said, “but [it’s] filled with so much life and love.”

Season 1 of Orphan Black: The Next Chapter is available to listen to on Realm (and other avenues such as Spotify and Google Podcasts). Episode 1 of the second season is out now, with the next episode arriving on Nov. 19. Ten episodes in total make up season 2, releasing weekly through mid-January.

Look out for the full virtual panel on Realm.

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