The first season of Sanctuary was
a surprisingly good
SF/action show. Based on a web series
and created almost exclusively with CGI sets, I didn't have high hopes
into the program. By the time the season
was done, I was a fan and eagerly awaiting the second year's worth of
shows. That wait is over.
E1 Entertainment has released Sanctuary
Season Two on both DVd and Blu-ray, and while the show still has
a lot of
charm, it doesn't live up to the potential that was established in the
The show centers around a Sanctuary, a special supposedly
secret (though everyone seems to know about it this season) center that
protects and studies 'abnormals' creatures that have unique and special
abilities. The institution is run by Dr.
Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), an intelligent and resourceful leader
happens to be 157 years old. She's aided
by Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), a psychologist and ex-police profiler,
geek Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) and butler and extra muscle when needed
(Christopher Heyerdahl). Together they
scour the world looking for abnormals.
At the end of the last season, things were getting pretty
interesting. The whole system of
Sanctuaries was under attack by the Cabal, a group of sinister villains
even managed to kidnap Magnus' daughter, Ashley (Emilie Ullerup). The reserves were called in including a
vampiric Nikola Tesla, Magnus' ex-lover, Jack the Ripper, Dr. James
(from Sherlock Holmes fame, not the DNA guy), and Clara Griffin who has
useful ability to turn invisible. Five
very powerful individuals. One sinister
international conspiracy. Sounds like
Then season two started.
For some reason the writers threw out a lot of the aspects that
end of the first season so great.
Instead of a season long battle with the Cabal, that story
line gets wrapped up in two episodes.
What's much worse is that they're destroyed off screen and it's
related to the other character through exposition.
That's like M telling James Bond not to worry about Dr. No as
fallen down a flight of stairs and killed himself.
Talk about anti-climactic. That was
a huge let down. Adding insult to injury
most of The Five were
killed or dispersed. They were the most
interesting part of the show, but after the wrap up intro story they
As is revealed in the telling front cover of the DVD and
Blu-ray sets, Ashley is written out for most of this season. I always found her a bit irritating, so it
was no big loss. For some reason
however, they've replaced her with another annoying young woman, Kate
Freelander. She's basically the same
character as Ashley, tough as nails on the outside but still a
woman on the inside, but this time in an Indian shell.
Unfortunately they didn't replace the Cabal with another
villain or even an overriding story.
Aside from the season-ending two-part episode, the other shows
pretty much stand alone stories that don't have the impact that the
story arc episodes did.
That said, there were some good shows this season.
The episode where they encounter an
overweight and nerdy superhero called "the Adjuster" was funny and
interesting, especially since the explanation for the hero's powers was
unique. "Sleepers" was probably the best
episode in this set, as it brings back the vampire Tesla who is just a
character. He's come up with a way to
revive the vampire race, but his scheme doesn't go quite to plan and
causing more than a little trouble.
Another aspect of this season that I really enjoyed was that
there were a lot of guest stars that SF fans will recognize including
Shanks (Stargate SG-1), Paul
McGillion (Stargate Atlantis), and Callum
Blue (Dead Like Me). The
acting was still fine across the board,
with Amanda Tapping really getting to stretch her character this time
around. She's up to the task and is the
highlight of the show.
It's just too bad that the show drifted away from the elements
that made the first season so enjoyable.
It's still not a bad show, and if you're able to look past some
silly parts (the episode where a giant abnormal squid fought its
a non-swimming giant scorpion, was just ludicrous and the Bollywood
number in the final episode (I kid you not) is cring-inducing) it's a
to kill some time. It doesn't rise to
the level of the previous season and it doesn't really explore any new
but it's still worth watching.
The 13 episodes that make up the first season come in a fold
out holder that has two overlapping discs per page.
I'm not wild about fold out cases or
overlapping discs, and I wish they would have used a single width 4
This program is recorded on new generation digital cameras
that recorded with a resolution of 4096 X 2048 pixels (in comparison
has a resolution of 1920 X 1080 pixels.)
Consequently the 1.78:1 anamorphic image show looks good on
much better than season one did on DVD.
The image was much sharper and the level of detail was greatly
improved. The aliasing was gone and the
blacks were darker and more even. The
colors on this set are very nice, thought the skin tones sometimes look
they've been played with in post-production.
Overall this is a nice looking set.
The show comes with both a DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track and
a DD 5.1 option. I really enjoyed the
DTS track which was pretty solid. The
dialog was clear and there are not any audio defects worth noting, but
subwoofer track is a bit anemic. This is
especially noticeable in the few scenes with explosions.
The mix was a bit more front-heavy than I remember
season 1 being, and it's not quite as immersive as I was hoping, but
still sounds very good. There are SDH
subtitles in English.
This set comes with a good amount of bonus material that
really makes a complete package. First,
there are commentary tracks to every episode with various writers,
and stars. All of the leads are included
as well as the series creators. While I
won't claim to have listened to every minute of every commentary, those
did play were fairly interesting.
There are also some behind-the-scenes documentaries included
with the set:
Anatomy of an Episode
Amanda Tapping Directs "Veritas"
"Next Tuesday" - Anatomy of an Episode
Sanctuary Visual Effects
Sanctuary for Kids
Behind the Scenes and On the Set
Sanctuary Goes to Japan
Dancing in Mumbai
In addition to all that there is a Behind the Scenes
Slideshow, a featurette the show's presentation at Comic Con, a blooper
and a photo gallery. All in all this is
a nice set of extras.
While the show still retains the charm of the first season,
it really takes a misstep by going back to the stand alone episodes
trying to tell a bigger story. The lack
of more adventures of The Five is also disappointing.
It's still worth watching and enjoyable, just
not as gripping as the first season. Recommended.