After a somewhat disappointing second season, Sanctuary is
back with a third installment of episodes where the show really hits
stride. The authors have found a voice
for the program and have a much better understanding of what works and
doesn't. This season has a larger plot
that reaches across multiple episodes, but it's also sprinkled with
entertaining stand alone shows that never feel like monster-of-the-week
filler. I'm a little surprised it retained
fans through the second season to get renewed, but I'm very glad it
The show centers around a Sanctuary, a special supposedly
secret (though everyone seems to know about it) center that protects
studies 'abnormals' creatures that have unique and special abilities. The institution is run by Dr. Helen Magnus
Tapping), an intelligent and resourceful leader who just happens to be
years old. She's aided by Will Zimmerman
(Robin Dunne), a psychologist and ex-police profiler, tech geek Henry
Robbins), Kate Freelander (Agam Darshi) an attractive ex-thief and
badass, and the butler/ extra muscle when needed, an abnormal named
Heyerdahl). Together they scour the
world looking for and protecting abnormals.
At the end of the last season, things were getting pretty
interesting. A giant (I'm talking the
size of a small city) sea-dwelling spider aptly named Big Bertha has
attacked by Sanctuary forces after Dr. Magnus was ousted from her
position. The spider fought back by
sending out a huge pulse that created not one but two tidal waves
different points on the Indian coast.
Will had a connection with the powerful being/god Kali, but that
severed when Big Bertha was attacked.
Only someone with Kali's power could stop a tidal wave, so Will
metaphorical Hail Mary pass and tries contact the being by having
killed in a controlled environment.
In the afterlife Will meets Kali once more and pleads his
case, but what's totally unexpected is that he also sees Magnus' still
who shows him a strange set of symbols and whispers for him to get the
to his daughter.
The cryptic message from Helen's father leads the team to a
holographic representation of a magnificent, almost impossible city. Technologically advanced and yet obviously
ancient, the group from Sanctuary travels the globe going from
discover the ultimate secret that Magnus' father was trying to reveal
I enjoyed this season a lot more than the previous two.
The larger story arc kept things very
interesting, and often times a stand alone story would surprisingly
turn out to
be related to the mysterious city. The
mystery advanced at quite a steady pace too, leading to the
of the season.
The stand alone episodes were better than previous seasons
too. Instead of the group going after a
rouge abnormal they used the single-shot stories to flesh out the main
characters including adding a love interest for two of the main players. One of my favorite shows was entirely a
flashback, a story of 'The Five' (Magnus and four of her companions who
gained extraordinary powers while in college in the 1800's) during WWII
Magnus and some of her mates crossed into occupied France just before D-Day. It was an excellent episode and fans got to
see The Five in action once again.
Speaking of The Five, Tesla in back in several episodes this
season and John Druitt (Helen's old lover and Jack the Ripper) makes an
appearance or two also. I have to admit
I was surprised at how little Druitt was in the show... he appears in the
credits along with the other main characters but isn't really an
of the season. I assume it's a way of
thanking the actor since he also plays bigfoot, but is covered in so
makeup and prosthetics that you can't identify him.
One other episode that I have to mention is Wingman,
the money saving clip show for
the season. Now I generally despise clip
shows, but this one was actually, dare I say it, good.
Instead of replaying extended portions from a
few episodes, the creators took it in another direction, stringing
many very short clips into interesting and engaging montages. For example, at one point Will mentions how
Helen is, and that's followed by an impressive reel consisting of 5-10
blips of Magnus shooting, punching, and blowing things up.
There's also a decent plot (Will and Henry
are trying to take their dates to a very exclusive restaurant, but they
capture an escaped abnormal on the way, and do it before they loose
table. Funny, exciting, and fun to watch
this is the way a clip show should be done.
The 20(!) episodes that make up the third 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 6
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.
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 on seven episodes with various members of
and crew. All of the leads are included
as well as the series creators. I spot
checked these and what I heard was lively and generally fun, though it
to be a bit superficial, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
There are also some behind-the-scenes documentaries included
with the set:
Visual Effects of Sanctuary Season 3 - this was pretty cool
and worth watching.
Amanda Tapping Directs "One Night"
Damian Kindler: In the Director's Chair
The Music of Sanctuary
Behind the Scenes: Normandy
Character Profile: Nikola Tesla
In addition to all that there is a blooper reel and a photo
gallery. All in all this is a nice set
The first season was mildly interesting and held a lot of
promise, but the show slipped a lot in the second season, writing out
good characters and relying on too may unimaginative, stand alone
stories. That all changed with this season. They went back to having a season-long main
plot, fleshed out the characters, and even brought back some fan
favorites. If it keeps going at this
rate, the show will be around for a long time.