Sanctuary: Season 1 (2008)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 1, 2010  | 
Beyond (Australia) | Region B | 1.78:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD 5.1 | 594 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Creator: Damian Kindler
Starring: Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Ryan Robbins, Emilie Ullerup, Christopher Heyerdahl
Screenplay: Damian Kindler
Country: Canada
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Sanctuary is a TV series created by Australian Damian Kindler, who has worked on other scifi TV series' like Stargate SG-1, Earth: Final Conflict and Stargate Atlantis. He created Sanctuary as a web series which impressed the producers at the science fiction television network SyFy, and it has since become a regular TV show.

Sanctuary is about Dr Helen Magnus (Stargate's Amanda Tapping), a 157 year old scientist who specializes in the bizarre, or 'Abnormals', as she likes to call them. The Sanctuary of the title is a place where she captures and contains these beasts, sometimes for their own protection, sometimes for ours, and the show centres on the induction of a new employee, forensic psychiatrist Dr Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne, who stared in Species III, and ironically an episode of NCIS known as 'The Ex-File'). The team already is supported by Magnus' daughter Ashley (sexy Nordic type Emilie Ullerup who played Cat Grant in Smallville), Magnus' manservant Bigfoot (the Twilight series' Christopher Heyerdahl) and computer geek Henry (Battlestar Galactica's Ryan Robbins). The Sanctuary is also threatened by the mysterious John Druitt (again, Christopher Heyerdahl).

Season 1 of this series contains 13 episodes, and the shorthand nerd way to describe this show is that it is Grissom from CSI, Emma Peel from The Avengers and a femme Fox Mulder from The X-Files investigating a series of Doctor Who/Hellboy style nemeses via a years subscription to The Fortean Times! Damn, could their be any more geek chic references in one description?

It seems to me that this series' episodes have been constructed from elements that were successful in other TV shows, and it occasionally reads like a 'best of' of those shows. I could find elements of everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Smallville. That is not completely a bad thing and rest assured; I know that to survive on TV one must follow popular trends, but it felt obvious at times.

I have a love/hate relationship with the visuals of this show. Occasionally, like in the opening shot of the first episode, it is amazing to look at, but occasionally the CGI is disastrously false, which takes one completely out of the show.
This series looks fantastic. It is presented in 16:9 widescreen and is a crisp as a TV show could get.
Sanctuary may have been produced for TV but there are a number of wonderful audio options available, with English Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS-HD 5.1, and Dolby stereo tracks to choose from.
Extra Features
Every episode of this Blu-ray has a commentary by creator Damian Kindler, actor/producer Amanda Tapping and various others. In general they are informative, and the groups seem to have fun them.

The Original Webisodes are an interesting watch, and you can see why the professionalism of these internet- based shorts translated into an eventual TV show. The cast are basically the same, though the CGI is mostly extremely bodgey.

There are 3 making of featurette which have interviews which cast and crew of the show: Welcome to the Sanctuary talks about the origins of the show, The Sanctuary Residents looks at the monsters featured in the show and Sanctuary Visual Effects looks at why CGI backgrounds on a TV budget are achievable, although if you ask me, not completely effectively.

The green screen PIP option is an interesting look at the CGI effects from wireframe to eventual picture, done picture in picture. Some are startlingly good, other are mediocre at best.

Bloopers are almost always fun and these are no exception.

Photo Gallery is pictures showing behind the scenes of the show… on a technology that prides itself on moving images and spectacular sound, surely this is the dumbest idea ever.

Season 2 preview is just that, a preview of next season, and I have to say it looks a whole lot better than this season.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Sanctuary is an average series that should appeal to most lovers of TV sci-fi as it borrows so much from a lot of it. Essentially though, and if I am to drop my cynicism, it is a well acted well scripted show with some hot chicks, some satisfactory make-ups and some bad CGI. The real problem with it though is the excitement level never really gets too high and one is left wanting just a little more.

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