It's been a bumpy ride for the Syfy show Sanctuary. Over the first three seasons it would
between being an excellent SF show and a terribly mediocre
program. With the end of the fourth
season, the ride is over and unfortunately it ends on a low note. This final season has some very good
installments but those are weighted down by a very standard overarching
that covers the whole season and some episodes that are just misfires. The creators never really had a good handle
on what works and what doesn't for the show and every time you think
got it right, they veer off in the wrong direction.
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 hairy
on a couple of different fronts. The
abnormals who live inside the Earth have decided that they want their
the sun and three armies march out of caves in different parts of the
planet. If that wasn't bad enough,
Magnus is battling an old companion, Adam Worth, who manages to open up
in time and slip back to the 1800's with the aim of curing his
daughter. This will change the time
stream irrevocably, so Magnus follows him on his one-way journey into
in order to stop him.
This season opens with Magnus in 19th Century
London, following Worth. He manages to
wound her and escape, so she turns to one person she knows she can
husband at the time, James Watson (yes, the one from the Sherlock
stories.) Together they have to stop
Worth, but even if they do, how will Magnus manage to return to the 21st
Century? She does manage it, but it
takes a very long time. (And they use
the same trick that was employed in Doctor
Who a few years ago. It's a bit
disappointing they couldn't come up with something original.)
Meanwhile Will has been put in charge of the New York
Sanctuary by the Sanctuary Network, that mysterious body that runs the
abnormal shelters around the world. He's
having a rough time, as the US military wants to actually *gasp* attack
invading army, especially after there's a revolt in the refugee
housing several Hollow Earth abnormals in which the subterranean
hostages and threaten to kill them. No
one in authority will take Will's calls, and with Magnus MIA he's
of his depth.
After that crisis, and Magnus' return, things are different. The government is very leery of abnormals and
they create a department, SCUI, to hunt down the Hollow Earth creatures
are still on the surface. Either
imprisoning the abnormals that they capture or using them for
a race between the bad military and the saintly Sanctuary to see who
and capture the renegade abnormals first.
There are some very good episodes in this season. Monsoon,
where Magnus is held hostage by some abnormal crooks while in an
Africa was a high point. Seeing the
unarmed Magnus take out a group of ex-military super-humans was
made me remember why I enjoyed the show.
Unfortunately there the good shows are in the minority.
It's not that the other episodes are bad
per-se, just very mediocre. Once you
step back and take a look at the big picture, things make much less
too. There are plot holes and illogical
actions that leave viewers scratching their heads.
For example, Magnus learns that the head of
SCUI is actually her old friend Tesla.
Is she happy that one of the good guys is running the show at
Central? Nope, she's disgusted that he'd work for the enemy. Yet a few episodes later she's happy that
Will has been drafted by the same organization since she needs someone
The series does wrap up (though there is room for more
adventures) but it does so in a fairly unsatisfying way.
The final two-part story revolves around the
efforts of Magnus and a Hollow Earth abnormal to establish a homeland
in a slum
of a large city (presumably New York). I
never understood what exactly they were planning. They talk about the
abnormals having their own government, but why would they think that
would give up sovereignty to a large section of a major city especially
group of creatures that had invaded??!?
What's more, why did Magnus think that gathering all of the
abnormals into one place in plain view of the government would be a
thing? Wouldn't that just make it easier
for the government to wipe them out?
As I mentioned, the series is wrapped up in the last
episode, though it feels a bit rushed and a few minor points are
over. Still, it was nice that the show
did get a coda. It deserved at least
The 13 episodes that make up the fourth season come in a custom
fold out holder that has two pages with a pair of discs stacked one on
the other on each page. I'm not wild
about fold out cases or stacked discs and I wish they would have used a
width 4-disc keepcase.
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
Blu-ray. The image was sharp and the level
of detail was
great. The blacks were dark and even. The colors on this set are very nice, thought
the skin tones sometimes look like they've been played with in
post-production. Overall this is a nice
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 five 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:
Amanda Cam - A day in the life of Amanda Tapping
'Tempus' - Behind the Scenes
Robin Dunne Directs 'Homecoming'
'Fugue' - Making a Musical
In addition to all that there is a gag reel and a selection
of deleted scenes. All in all this is a
nice set of extras.
While I really enjoyed the third season, this one didn't do
too much for me. I pretty much shrugged
when it was over and didn't feel too sad or remorseful that it was all
over. Thought the series did have a lot
of potential and lived up to in magnificently in places, it was too
overall to be remembered as a great show.
Fans that have stayed with the program this far should watch
13 installments, but make it a rental.