Sanctuary: The Complete Second Season (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 15, 2011  | 
DVD
Beyond | Region B | 1.78:1, 1080p | English DTS HD 5.1 | 588 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Martin Wood
Starring: Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Ryan Robbins, Agam Darshi, Christopher Heyerdahl
Screenplay: Damian Kindler
Country: Canada
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Wow! What a difference a season makes. When I reviewed season 1 of Sanctuary, I was fairly non-plused, not by the quality of acting or effects (though the CGI was at times, pretty bad) but the storylines just never seemed to reach any peak, and instead of a rollercoaster ride of sci-fi, monster filled adventure they just seemed to trickle along like a weak prostate This season is far better than the last, but still has a lot of room to improve, for reasons I will explain as the review goes on.

Sanctuary was created in 2007 by Damian Kindler as an 8 episode series for the internet, which due to its success was picked up as a TV series by the horribly named SyFy network. Sanctuary tells of a 150-odd year old scientist, Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) who has created a Sanctuary, a prison/refuge for 'Abnormals', creatures of myth and magic, and humans who have heightened abilities who can't adapt to 'normal' civilization. She is assisted by Dr Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), manservant Bigfoot (Christopher Heyerdahl), werewolf computer geek Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) and ass-kicking con artist Kate Freelander (Agam Darshi), who replaces Emelie Ullerup's character of Ashley Magnus from season 1. The show is potentially a grand mix of sci-fi and horror with elements of steampunk stylings thrown in for an ultra cool look, deliberately made to tap into the loves of most geeks.

As a matter of fact, just like the writings of J.K. Rowlings, this TV show is a pop culture megamix of sci-fi and horror TV, literary and filmic elements aimed specifically at the sci-fi audience. Now while I understand that as a TV show producer you want to make a show popular and financially successful it still needs to have its own identity. Unfortunately one of the problems with this show is it does feel a little schizophrenic, and constantly searching for a definitive personality.

This, the second series was originally aired 2009-10 and consists of 13 episodes, most of which are fairly average, but with a couple that really show promise. The adversaries in this series include a group known as the Cabal (who are like an anti-Sanctuary in a story that continues form last season), a dubious 'superhero', a sentient building, mobsters, a group of trust-fund artificial vampires (which was possibly my favourite episode) and a powerful abnormal known as Kali.

Of course, like most sci-fi or fantasy TV series' are want to do, the final episode ends on a cliffhanger that we need to wait until next season to see the result of. Blast!
Video
A TV show like this is made for HD, and its image is as clear as it could be in a 1.78:1 presentation. One thing about the image though that is strange is the 'pancake' make-up on almost all the cast. Effectively everyone with Caucasian skin tones has a yellow tinge that sometimes is almost unnoticeable, but at other times is disturbingly apparent. I can't say if this is deliberate or if it is a side-effect of the CGI processes, but occasionally becomes annoying.
Audio
Like the image, this English DTS HD 5.1 audio presentation is impeccable, with crystal clear dialogue and well balanced sound effects.
Extra Features
International Sanctuary looks at the expansion of the world of Sanctuary. Cast and crew all talk about the idea of there being various Sanctuaries throughout the world houseing the beasts and monsters of each region, all controlled by Magnus.

Amanda Tapping directs 'Veritas' looks at the process that actor Amanda Tapping went through to direct the episode 'Veritas'. 

'Next Tuesday' – Anatomy of an Episode is an interesting look at the process that cast and crew go through to create a single episode of a TV show. 

Sanctuary Visual Effects has us explore the CGI effects of this show, which this season is the only thing I can't thoroughly applaud. Some of the CGI exteriors and 'dirty' interiors (like the abandoned Subway station in Pavor Nocturnus) look great, and most of the monsters are passable, but the 'clean' interiors ( like most of the Sanctuary interiors) still look like they are dropped behind the actors. 

Sanctuary for Kids is a plea from Amanda Tapping to support Sanctuary's children's charity, which can be contacted at www.sanctuaryforkids.org

Sanctuary Goes To Comic-Con is a taste of Sanctuary's popularity at the San Diego Comic Con. These show how well-liked they are by displaying screaming nerds and geeks at a comic convention. Sometimes these are OK, but occasionally feel a little self-congratulatory. 

Will Vision – Behind the Scenes and on the Set is an interesting 'blog entry' by Robin Dunne of where the show is made. It is pretty amazing that the majority of the show is shot, edited and spfx'ed all in one building; which happens to be an old bike factory. This starts as a bit of a 'look a me' piece for Dunne as he shows more of his face than the actual building he is showing us around, but it ends with the final day of shooting of Season 2 and you see that the cast and crew are a hard working bunch with a lot of respect for each other.

Will Vision – Sanctuary Goes To Japan is more stuff by and starring Robin Dunne's biggest fan: Robin Dunne... that is a bit unfair as he is occasionally funny. The blog entry is about the location scout and shoots in Japan for some of Season 2's episodes. It also features some of the promotional stuff they had to do, and throws in a fair bit of tomfoolery... which is the very best type of foolery!

Dancing in Mumbai shows how amazing Sanctuary's set crew are, with the transformation of a carpark into the slums of Mumbai and the process Dunne went through to do, yes, a Bollywood dance number.

Bloopers and Outtakes isn't a clever name; it is actually the amusing outtakes and bloopers from Season 2. I actually love bloopers because you actually get to see, just for brief moments, the actors not performing, and completely being themselves.

Behind the Scenes Slideshow is a massive waste of space. Why do these people think its necessary to show still images on an animated visual medium?

There is also an informative audio commentary on every episode, most featuring Director Martin Wood, Amanda Tapping and series creator Damian Kindler.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Series 2 of Sanctuary is a vast improvement over the previous one, but while it is good television, it isn't great television. It is well cast and the stories are much better than the last season, but as with the last season, occasionally the CGI environments are disastrously fake, and as I stated earlier, it really needs to find its own groove, instead of sharing The X-Files', The Avengers', Hellboy's and Jon Pertwee's Doctor Who's groove.

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