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Home | TV | TV Review: Sanctuary (TV Series) ( Season 1) (2008)

TV Review: Sanctuary (TV Series) ( Season 1) (2008)

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Backed by an eager team of experts, scientist Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) spends her time tracking down abnormal creatures. But while a few specimens are safe, others are downright dangerous. Based on a high-definition Web serial — the first sci-fi series of its kind — this Sci Fi Channel original drama is the first TV series to feature live actors against a backdrop of virtual sets created with computer-generated animation.


Ok, its time for another quick overview of another killer series on TV. This one I’ll admit to being a bit bias as I enjoy the crap out of it. Sci Fi channel seems to take a chance every season on something new. Some of them stick while others not so much. Though this one has a bit of it’s own history. When season 2 ended, the big question was when will season 2 resume? Being a new show, it was unsure as to if this had survived the ratings game. We’ve seen our share of really good TV shows that have come and gone and are not surprised to see them canceled for whatever purpose. “Reaper” is one that comes to mind that may not make it to season 3. Well the show Sanctuary actually started as a webisode project. So there was some confusion as to what was what and what is considered season 1. To clarify I felt it best to insert this little wikipedia post which sums it up much better:

Sanctuary is a Canadian science fiction-fantasy television series, created by Damian Kindler. The show is an expansion of an eight-webisode long series that was released through the Internet in early 2007 and sold directly to the viewer. Seeing the success of the web series, Syfy decided to pick up the series for a more traditional television-based 13-episode season, it has since been renewed for a second season also containing 13 episodes.

The show itself features a hand full of regulars. these include: Amanda Tapping as Dr. Helen Magnus, Robin Dunne as Dr. Will Zimmerman, Emilie Ullerup as Ashley Magnus, Ryan Robbins as Henry Foss, Christopher Heyerdahl as John Druitt, and Christopher Heyerdahl also as Bigfoot.

Now the focal of the series really is on 3 individuals: Dr. Helen Magnus, her daughter Ashley Magnus and Dr. Will Zimmerman. Will is recruited by Helen Magnus to join her team for his acute skills and for the better of mankind (so to speak). Will has a special gift of intuition which he is able to hone in on details of a situation. This talent compliments Helens vast knowledge and expertise in her field. Her daughter Ashley is the bad ass of the group who takes on the more physical encounters with great ease.

Sanctuary refers to the castle like structure they have built serving as a safe haven (refuge) for beings the call “abnormal’s”. Though to clarify its really a monster quest for the beasts, aliens, creatures, mythological beats and X-file like entities that exist in the world. Many of these are misunderstood, so Sanctuary provides a shelter to keep them from harm and out of harm’s way.

Each episode sort of follows the rhythm of a monster quest like expedition. Though as the series has grown it reveals alot about history, it’s inhabitants and the collective group that Helen used to belong to called “the five”. Now for kicks this group contains the ones known as Nikola Tesla, Dr. James Watson, and John Druitt who was the original Jack the Ripper. The group were scientists who came upon a potion which prolonged there existence into immortality. Helen a former member of the group continues her work and focus for Sanctuary, though her experience puts her well into 150 years old without any signs of aging. Helens daughter Ashley is also revealed as being the daughter of John Druit.

John who has served more as a nemesis than a ally creates a tension between the members that slowly find its place in the scheme of things.

Will who is completely removed from the life on the streets day to day working class finds his new role to be something greater than he ever imagined. Each day brings new discovery and new confrontations.

In any case, the series has a great pacing that gives us pieces just enough to hunger for more as episodes pass. The series follows some similarities to other successful shows of its nature like “X-files”, “Supernatural”, “Millennium” and the forever lost “The Others” however its take is rooted more in scifi than horror. Even that classification is loose as it mostly centered on the present day Earth.

What most including myself will be shocked to learn is that much of the show is filmed in entire green screen environments. With the only real props being some items that the actors interact with . It works seamlessly with virtual environments that I still have a hard time believing aren’t real. Some of the extras demonstrate the before and afters which to me says that we have evolved in what TV is capable of doing with digital means. Some episodes are of course on set or only partial sets, though much of the Sanctuary environment is all digital.

With Season 2 announced to begin in October of 2009, there is hope that the series will prevail long enough to capture new audiences who might have missed it the first round. The show is solid, original and full of great out of this world fantastical component. Beyond that the actors have a great chemistry that should be explored in future seasons. Amanda Tapping is a glowing performer that I’m hoping we spend alot mroe time with. If you are new to the series, this introductory box set is the place to start. Now with TV switching back to less reality shows and more scripted offerings….. we as horror / scif i viewers can once again have a reason to turn on the TV and indulge in the new creative products on the market.

Sanctuary – Tv Series – Season 1

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