Let the clone jokes begin, as AMC announces that a new Orphan Black TV series is in development, though it apparently won’t be a spinoff or reboot of the original. The Emmy-winning series ran for five seasons on AMC’s sister channel BBC America, where it quickly became something of a sensation due to the amazing performance(s) by Tatiana Maslany as the various clones — or “sestras” — as the women worked together (and sometimes in opposition to one another) to unravel the mystery of their creation and purpose. The result was a fan-favorite series that wrapped up its main storyline with an emotional finale in 2017.
Now, it seems the series — or something akin to that — is coming back to TV, thanks to Orphan Black production company Temple Street Productions. It’s likely not too surprising that such an idea would be in the development phase, as nothing is ever truly dead on television anymore, and the refresh cycle on most shows or the ideas therein is happening at a much faster rate than before. In other words, it no longer takes several years before a network or streaming service announces an interest in reviving an established IP. What makes this new series interesting, however, is twofold: 1) it reportedly won’t be a continuation of the Orphan Black storyline in anyway, and 2) it’s being set up at AMC, rather than BBC America, the home of the original series.
As reported by Variety (read: stressed), the new series simply exists in the same world as the one Orphan Black took place in. Details are obviously scant at the moment, which makes the news somewhat difficult to fully understand as there’re are inevitably more questions than answers at the moment. While Orphan Black certainly had a rich world filled with many interesting characters and events, it’s unclear what, specifically, about that world would facilitate an entirely new program that doesn’t revolve around Sarah Manning and her clones, or one of the fascinating characters they met along the way.
As such, the Internet Speculation Machine has now been switched to the “On” position. The most likely guess is that this new series will aim to explore a new angle and group of characters whose lives have been affected by the manipulation of the DNA technology that made the original story possible. There are certainly plenty of avenues to explore the various potential pitfalls of humankind messing with genes that go beyond cloning, which could make for a compelling new narrative. The trick, however, may be in getting audiences interested in a story that doesn’t have Maslany front and center (and everywhere else, frankly).
Interestingly, the shift from BBC America to AMC is also curious, as it follows with the network’s plan to air current hit Killing Eve across both platforms when season 2 premieres in April. Whether or not this is a sign of things to come for the channels that fall under the AMC umbrella is not clear, but it will be interesting to see how this shift plays out.
Orphan Black seasons 1-5 are currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.