Watching: A One-Season Wonder

Or a layered sci-fi drama

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

Disney announced yesterday that a filmed version of the stage production of “Hamilton” will stream on Disney Plus starting July 3 of this year, rather than hit theaters in October 2021 as previously planned. Fun! I hope every entertainment behemoth decides to give us things early during our time of need. Open the vaults already, folks.

Hang in there. Here’s a raccoon getting a good sudsing. See you Friday.

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I want something like ‘The X-Files’

Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany in “Orphan Black.”Ken Woroner/BBC America

‘Orphan Black’

When to watch: Now, on Amazon

If you like moody sci-fi, you’ll dig “Orphan Black.” But even if you don’t typically go for that kind of show, “Orphan Black” has a lot to offer: If you like the tonal voyage of “Killing Eve,” the prickliness of “Dead to Me,” how “The Americans” slowly peels back layers of identity, or if you just like great acting, watch this.

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Tatiana Maslany stars as Sarah, who discovers that she is a clone — and part of a bigger, perhaps sinister project. In a real feat of physicality and restraint, Maslany plays all the other clones, too, including a soccer mom, a scientist, a Ukrainian contract killer and a fancy executive, among others. It’s astoundingly effective and does not feel cheesy. (Maslany won an Emmy for the role in 2016.)

“Orphan Black” has plenty of prestige-TV sadness signifiers — the neon-winter visual palette that indicates modern technology seriousness, extreme violence in forests — and a few ineffective subplots. But unlike lots of other peak-bleak shows, it also has wit and an exciting sensibility, and its characters have an unusual depth and grounding. There are five 10-episode seasons, and though things get a little fuzzy in Season 4, it finishes strong.

I want an earnest drama that’s not miserable

From left, Dan Lauria, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Kylie Bunbury in “Pitch.”Ray Mickshaw/Fox

‘Pitch’

When to watch: Now, on Hulu

“Pitch” ran for just 10 episodes in 2016, and it’s a real shame the show never got a chance to develop more — it’s fun and different, with the weepiness of “This Is Us” and the gloss and pace of a ’90s workplace drama like “The Practice.” And it’s baseball!

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The show centers on Ginny (Kylie Bunbury), a pitcher who becomes the first woman in the major leagues. Mike (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), the veteran catcher, takes her under his wing, though given his mess of a personal life, maybe he’s not the best mentor. No matter, though. Everyone likes telling Ginny what to do: her agent, her coach, the G.M., everyone in the clubhouse, everyone in the stands, and especially the ghosts of her past.

There’s a wholesomeness to “Pitch” that feels almost retro, and the episodes each have a sense of completion that is rare outside of procedurals. If you like shows where well-meaning characters watch TV news coverage about themselves, watch this.

EXTRA-CREDIT READING

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