Sanctuary: The Complete First Season

Actors: Amanda Tapping, Christopher Heyerdahl, Robin Dunne, Emilie Ullerup
Format: AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 4
Studio: E1 Entertainment
DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
Run Time: 585 minutes

Bonus features:

  • Audio commentaries on all 13 episodes with cast and crew including Amanda Tapping, creator Damian Kindler, director Martin Wood and more
  • 3 Making-of Featurettes: Welcome to the Sanctuary, Sanctuary Residents, Sanctuary Visual Effects

  • Sanctuary: The Original Webisodes
  • Bloopers, Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
  • Season Two Sneak Peek



The main selling point behind this 2009 Syfy television series is that it was filmed the same way movies such as 300 and Sin City were filmed, using a minimum of sets and fake computer-generated backgrounds . . .

Yup, Sanctuary's end titles should read: "NOT filmed on location."

One day we suspect all movies and TV shows will be filmed like this. After all, this way you don't have to worry about typhoons blowing away expensive sets and so forth. All you need is some controlled environment (read: abandoned warehouse) and an army of underpaid computer geeks.

The backgrounds and "sets" have an artificial stylized look to them, but they never distract too much from the action at hand.

The plot involves a century-plus old woman named Dr. Helen Magnus (StarGate SG1's Amanda Tapping) who runs a clinic or rather sanctuary for so-called "abnormals". No, not people who thought Battlefield Earth was pretty cool, but rather all kinds of monsters and mutants. As the tagline has it: "Even things that go bump in the night need protection . . ."

To be fair, you'd expect Dr. Magnus (who looks remarkably good for someone who were born in the Victorian era) to be a Green Peace environmentalist type who protects endangered species, but most episodes she and her team usually wind up fighting the creatures rather than convincing them to seek sanctuary at her, er, sanctuary. It probably makes for more exciting television, but then one is reminded how the very British Primeval team actually goes to great lengths not to kill any of the dinosaurs they have to deal with each episode.

WORTH IT? Sanctuary has a curious static feel to it and it never really gets off the ground. There are loads of better shows out there. (We for instance stopped watching the Sanctuary box set when the Lost ? Complete Fifth Season box set arrived in the mail and only continued watching it again once we were finished with Lost.)

Maybe it has to do with the poor acting (it must be difficult for an actor to work with green screens all day long), but we suspect the problem lies with the writing. Despite the occasional flight of fancy ? Dr. Magnus? ex-boyfriend was Jack the Ripper! ? Sanctuary is nothing extraordinary. In fact one episode in which the heroes? HQ is overrun by cute fur ball creatures named Nubbins is such a rip-off of the famous Star Trek Tribbles episode that we almost stopped watching the series altogether. (The writers will probably call the episode in question a "homage," but we know better.)

RECOMMENDATION: Why is it that the good shows get cancelled and the mediocre ones run for ever? Sanctuary has been renewed for a second season whilst more intriguing recent shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles bit the dust. (Luckily the superior - and very similar ? Primeval show was saved from extinction recently.) Sanctuary isn't bad - it's just stultifying average . . .



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