The Watchman: How ‘Orphan Black’ Went Five and ‘Turn’ Went Four, and Putting a ‘Price’ on Ratings

The fifth and final season of Orphan Black is underway on BBC America, and we asked co-creator John Fawcett about the key to lasting five seasons. He said it took 10 years to get the show made, and he and co-creator Graeme Manson were able to sustain the passion that fueled them for those many years before the show found a home.

“We didn’t fall into ruts,” he said. “We pushed against what was the obvious answer and tried to take the road less traveled.”

Also helping was being lead-out to Doctor Who in season one. “That helped the show tremendously,” Fawcett said. “We had a large, built-in audience and managed to keep a good chunk of it.”

Fawcett mentions Orphan Black’s mix of horror and comedy, and the standout performance by Tatiana Maslany playing a number of clones. “There’s always concern that you’ll find a great actor who can make the separate characters believable,” he said. “Every time I see her on screen, it’s still a bit of a mind f----.”

The fourth and final season of Turn: Washington’s Spies starts up on AMC Saturday, June 17. Creator Craig Silverstein promised a “very emotional ending” to the Revolutionary War drama. “Everybody knows that America won the war,” he added. “They might not know exactly how it was won.”

Silverstein has three new projects in the works at AMC: a crime drama, a horror show and “something completely different, the kind of thing that hasn’t been on the air yet.” But these days, he is all about Turn: “I’m grateful that an unlikely show got on the air and got to tell its story.”

Roy Price, head of Amazon Studios, and Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News anchor, got to tell their stories when the Museum of the Moving Image gave the two its Award for Achievement in Media and Entertainment.

Jeffrey Tambor, star of Transparent, called Price a game-changer, an alchemist and his inspirer. He spoke of watching Catastrophe on Amazon, and wondering, “How did this get made? Who has the guts to do it? That guy has the guts,” he said, pointing to Price.

Price stepped on stage, and offered his take on ratings, saying liveplus- seven ratings should be replaced by live “plus-20-years.”

Price also offered insight into how he manages showrunners. “I don’t tell them how to make a TV show. I nurture and support their unique vision.”

NBC News president Noah Oppenheim introduced Holt, mentioning the anchor playing bass in his band, the Rough Cuts. “The Rough Cuts are available for weddings and bar mitzvahs,” he quipped.

Holt then climbed on stage and deadpanned: “He was serious about the weddings and bar mitzvahs.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.