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SANCTUARY
Season 1

Available on DVD

Sanctuary Cast





  • Dr Helen Magnus - Amanda Tapping
  • Dr Will Zimmerman - Robin Dunne
  • Ashley Magnus - Emilie Ullerup
  • John Druitt - Christopher Heyerdahl
  • Henry Foss - Ryan Robbins


    OTHER SANCTUARY SEASONS
    Season 2
    Season 3
    Season 4


    OTHER HERO SHOWS
    Birds of Prey
    Batman
    Blade
    Heroes







  • Sanctuary For All Part 1

    Will Zimmerman is a forensic psychologist whose understanding of body language, symbology and psychology gives him an almost 'spooky voodoo' talent for working out the hidden things lurking behind police cases. When he is called to a murder crime scene, then, he picks up on the presence of a child, a child that everyone else says doesn't exist. Enter Dr Magnus, a woman with a secret Sanctuary in the city, a Sanctuary for a very strange collection of creatures.

    SANCTUARY, which started life as a pay-per-view internet series comes to the TV screen through this Sci-Fi channel produced version being shown on ITV4. It starts off promisingly with a scary child killing cops and then proceeds to go nowhere all that fast. This is the opening part of the pilot show that introduces everything, so we expect things to be a bit on the slow side as all the characters are introduced and the basic set up explained, but the child proves to be a less than involving 'monster' to get the show rolling. There are hints about future developments such as the killer who can teleport and the truth about Magnus's relationship to her 'daughter'.

    Amanda Tapping, on the other hand, gives us the episode's big gun as Dr Magnus, conveying a mysterious, different kind of woman simply and subtly. Her fascination slips a bit towards the end as she comes out into the light and explains her presence (well, sort of explains anyway|), but she is the key to making the show work. Robin Dunne's Zimmerman is a standard unbeliever brought inside the team and Emilie Ullerup is a cookie cutter all-action babe, but it is Magnus who is the interesting one.

    The show's much vaunted digital backgrounds are pretty good, only a few times obvious for what they are, but some of the other effects such as the monsters introduced in the Sanctuary tour, vary in the quality of their realisation.

    This opening episode is, all in all, a solid if unspectacular start to a new show, but there is promise there to be mined. Only time will tell if it can succeed.

    Written by Damian Kindler & Sam Egan
    Directed by Martin Wood

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    Sanctuary For All Part 2

    Whilst Dr.Magnus tries to convince Will Zimmerman to stay and help her, Ashley falls foul of the prostitute-killing man from the last episode who turns out to be faster than human and has a past with her mother.

    Something has obviously happened in the transition from the internet to the television that has lost half of the script for this episode. The child with the killer intestine (no, really) who was the centre of the first part of this pilot story all but disappears in this episode, presumably having served his purpose of bringing Will to the Sanctuary. The focus switches entirely to the man from Helen's past, a man who can teleport, move faster than is humanly possible and turns out to be Jack the Ripper. Oh no, not another series that has to have Jack the Ripper in it. There must be some sort of rule that you can't enter the sci fi television club unless you have Jack the Ripper pop up in the show somewhere along the line.

    The plotting around this character is OK as he allows for some action, but that doesn't distract from some pretty ropy special effects work, especially around the mermaid in Magnus's aquarium and the terrible monster thing that threatens Ashley in its jungle setting.

    The best thing that the show has going for it is Amanda Tapping and the Dr Magnus character. When she is stood on the roof in the wind and Will asks her if she is cold, her answer is that it depends on who you ask. Moments like that don't make up for the patchy nature of the rest of the episode, but as this was cobbled together from the internet show we should perhaps wait until the webisode-based stories are over before making judgements.

    Written by Damian Kindler & Sam Egan
    Directed by Martin Wood

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    Fata Morgana

    Dr. Magnus takes her team to Scotland, acting on information of something important and secret being kept in a crypt there. The secret turns out to be three women with great and dangerous powers, witches from the time of King Arthur, held in sleep by a powerful and ancient cabal to be brought forth whenever the Cabal needs to destroy an army. The Cabal is annoyed and want their property back.

    Well there's nothing like jumping straight into the action with barely an explanation as to why. Magnus and the team are in Scotland to retrieve something, acting on 'intelligence' and that's all the background you're going to get. For a woman who is so interested in the strange and caring for those who are different, she shows complete disregard for the sheer number of 'keepers of the dead' that she cheefully lays to waste all over the place. she then takes great delight in dissecting one of the dead ones to find its inner, gloopy secrets.

    Will tries to get through the girls' amnesia to what they are underneath, the core of the story, but poor Ashley just gets sent away because there's nothing for her to do until the Cabal forces arrive and there are more 'keepers' to shoot to pieces.

    Written by Damian Kindler & Martin Wood
    Directed by Martin Wood

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    Folding Man

    When a robber manages to escape from a basement that has no possible exit, Dr Magnus is intrigued. It is possible that he is a 'folding man' one of a group of people with the ability to fold bones and collapse organs in order to fit through spaces that no ordinary human can manage. The team track down and trap the man, but learn of a conspiracy that will make all of their kind slaves to a crime kingpin.

    Taking its lead directly from the two X-FILES episodes featuring Eugene Tooms, the prototype folding man, this episode then bolts on a fairly standard police procedural story as Magnus and the gang figure out where the robber is, take him down and learn of the crime lord about to make his big move. The actual manner of the 'folding' and what it means for the people doing it (beyond a ridiculous-sounding addiction to gold) is barely touched upon.

    The special effects remain dodgy, the 'folding' sequences being fairly ordinary image squashing and a rival flying crime lord being particularly poor.

    Written by Sam Egan
    Directed by James Head

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    Kush

    An expedition into the Himalayas to capture a rare form of snow tiger goes horribly wrong when the plane carrying the captured creature crashes on a high mountain in the middle of a snowstorm. The cold, however, turns out to be the least of the survivors' problems as one by one they are picked off by something in the plane with them, something that is affecting their perception of reality.

    Trapped in an enclosed space with a killer that you can't see. You can't trust anyone, not even your own perceptions. The plot is ripped completely off from JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING, a fact never more obvious than when they take blood to try and identify the killer amongst them, but there are worse templates to steal from and the episode is leagues ahead of those that have gone before it. There is tension, there is intrigue and, whilst it is fairly easy to guess who the killer actually is, there is a real sense of danger.

    There's also a much harder edge to the story. The innocent die, mistakes are made, cruel decisions are taken. Those that walk away alive won't be walking away untouched. The performances are raised by the material the actors are working with, a few clunky dialogue chunks aside.

    For the first time there is real promise in the show.

    Written by Damian Kindler
    Directed by Martin Wood

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    Nubbins

    On a drifting ship at sea, Magnus and her team find a ravenous predator with the ability to camouflage itself into the background, a talent it shares with some cute, furry critters known as Nubbins. When both are transported back to the Sanctuary, it becomes clear that the Nubbins are actually a bigger threat than the ravenous predator and that survival might come only in the form of a young woman with latent telepathic powers.

    Coming after the really rather excellent Kush, the really rather poor Nubbins is all the more derivative and rubbish. The plot is stolen from the STAR TREK episode The Trouble With Tribbles whilst the Nubbins themselves will have the holders of the Furby copyright heading hotfoot for the court. It is unlikely that anyone will be fighting over the ravenous predator as it is a very poor piece of CGI that nobody would want to put their name to.

    We also don't want to get started on the juvenile dialogue that includes a whole passage playing on the 'do you want to come and see my nubbins' line of smutty student double entendre. We don't have anything against smutty student humour when it's done well, but this really isn't.

    Written by Sam Egan
    Directed by Peter DeLuise

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    The Five

    Helen Magnus is in Rome to give a lecture on the behaviour of abnormals when she is contacted by a familiar face from her past; Nikola Tesla. John (also known as Jack the Ripper) takes Ashley prisoner in order to tell her about the Five of whom Helen, he himself and Nikola are three. These five notables tested the boundaries of science and gained their abilities through experimentation with vampire blood. Tesla has continued that experimentation and created a new breed of vampires under his complete control, something that Helen has learned to her cost.

    Forget the subplot about will back at the Sanctuary learning a few secrets about his fellow workers, this is all about the revelations of Helen's background. Her link with John and Tesla and how they all came to have their unique skills is all told in flashback and is a far more fascinating tale than the main story going on. Perhaps they ought to have stayed in Victorian times and fought the creatures of the night there. Of course, they wouldn't have had such an arsenal to fight with, but it would have been more fun than the running around the catacombs and firing handguns at various intervals.

    The Five is the least interesting of the episodes to date and if it did not have the backstory in its favour would just be interminably dull.

    Written by Damian Kindler
    Directed by Martin Wood

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    Edward

    Edward is a remarkable young man. Autistic he might be, but he draws astonishingly wonderful pictures, wonderful and disturbing. He is also the subject of a police investigation into the death of his father by shotgun. Will is asked to consult on the case and finds that there is more to it than simply abused son kills abusive father.

    This is an almost straightforward police procedural episode digging into a man's death and going through a couple of permutations before finding the truth. It's nothing that we haven't seen before and is really a little bit dull.

    It doesn't help that the moral of the story (accept who you are and make use of your gifts) is hammered home with the subtlety of a major earthquake and the appearance of the werewolf within is possibly the worst special effect that the show has come up with yet, something of an achievement.

    Written by Sam Egan
    Directed by Brenton Spencer

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    Requiem

    Will and Magnus are responding to a telepathic cry for help from merfolk living in the Bermuda Triangle when they find that the race has all but ripped itself to pieces. Examining one of the bodies for clues, Magnus becomes infected by a microscopic parasites that affect her behaviour and turn her into a killing machine.

    This is another episode set in an enclosed space much like Kush only this time the attack is a known quantity rather than a hidden one. As a result, the sense of confinement and tension is much reduced. Some of the dialogue is clunky and ineffective and the twists in the plot are obvious enough, but the characters are well enough established now to get by.

    Written by Damian Kindler
    Directed by Martin Wood

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    Warriors

    Danny, a friend of Will's goes missing along with a number of homeless people. When he starts to investigate, Will soon follows and finds himself turned into an abnormal killing machine and entered into gladiatorial cage fighting. Back at the Sanctuary, Magnus's only link to finding Will is her mysteriously reappeared father, but he doesn't remember being her father.

    There are very few shows that don't succumb to the 'gladiator' episode. If you have aliens then you're going to get them to fight. This is SANCTUARY's version and it adds nothing to either the show or to the genre in general. Except the sight of Will pumped up to silly levels of musculature that might be impressive were it not so silly.

    The subplot with the return of Magnus's father has more interest in it, but it suffers from distractions such as the bug in his neck controlling him (another sci-fi staple) and a lack of explanation. Where's he been, why's he not dead, why does he want to leave so abruptly, what's his connection with the Cabal? None of these are given satisfactory answers and Magnus's reaction to finding him is far too flat. Tapping has been the backbone of the show, but she lets it down here.

    Written by Sam Egan and Peter Mohan
    Directed by Brenton Spencer

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    Instinct

    A weather girl desperate to be taken seriously as a reporter follows some police band broadcasts to a warehouse full of corpses. Thereís something else in there; something that isnít human. Fortunately, thereís a team of individuals who seem to know what they are doing, which is trying to trap the creature. This is the taped footage.

    Yes, SANCTUARY jumps on the CLOVERFIELD bandwagon with an episode that is shot in shaky cam, almost real time. Itís a gimmick and for one of the few times this is a story that could have been told without the gimmick and it would have stood up well enough. Itís another tense, closed in episode, almost the entire action taking place inside the warehouse. Thereís something in the dark and itís out to get them.

    Sadly, all of thise is stamped all over by the gimmick, which keeps taking the audience out of the story. It does also mean, however, that the special effects (usually the downfall of this show) have their weaknesses masked somewhat. There is one shot of the creature, the most stable of the lot, that is actually quite impressive.

    The reporter makes little or no impact and the voice behind the camera is just plain annoying (much as it was in CLOVERFIELD), although he comes up with the shining moment of the episode, hitting on Ashley at just about the least opportune moment.

    Written by Damian Kindler
    Directed by SA Adelson

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    Revelations Part 1

    A drone aircraft drops a bomb in a remote location and soon afterwards abnormals are attacking humans all over the region. Magnus believes it to be an airborne contaminant, but John Druitt is one step ahead of her and brings in samples of the delivery system. The team identify the Cabal as the source and learn that another test of the weapon, this time in a densely populated area, is due in days. The only solution lies in the source blood that created the original Five - humans with extraordinary powers, of whom Magnus is one. The blood, however, is hidden in a lost city and requires all five to be present. As both the invisible man and Nikolai Tesla are dead, that could be something of a stumbling block.

    Plot threads come crashing together to show what this series is really capable in the first part of story that stitches in the famous Five, the cabal, the origin blood, Shangri-La built by vampires and a whole lot more. The stakes are upped and the battle lines are drawn. It's the best episode that the show has come up with to date and it stocks itself with some new characters.

    First and foremost is Dr James Watson, the real Sherlock Holmes and a man who is only cheating his own death of old age by means of a suit of his own design. He is wonderfully played by Peter Wingfield and his introduction is playful indeed. His sparring with John Druitt over the latter's murderous spree as Jack the Ripper is clever and fun stuff. The invisible man's grand-daughter is somewhat less successful, but that doesn't matter so much.

    Ashley and Henry make attempts to infiltrate the Cabal's weapons centre whilst the remnants of the Five head into the lost city as the cliffhangers arrive and the audience is suprised by how much they actually want to know what happens. Roll on part 2.

    Written by Sam Egan & Damian Kindler
    Directed by Martin Wood

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    Revelations Part 2

    With the deadline for the Cabal's release of its deadliest weapon rapidly approaching Magnus's team enters the ruined city to find that Nikolai Tesla is not as dead as they thought. In order to reach the blood, they have to each face a challenge that can only be resolved by their own special talents. Meanwhile, Ashley is being interrogated by the Cabal and Henry is being tortured into revealing his bestial side. Both Dr Watson and Dr Zimmerman, however, have a feeling that they are missing something.

    The conclusion to this two part story (which isn't really a conclusion) is a satisfying one. The tests faced by the Five are all clever and the interplay between the characters is the strongest that the show has come up with to date. The manner in which they solve the riddles and tests are mainly ingenious (Tesla's being a sheer act of will) and their final success is deserved, even though it comes at a price.

    Henry and Ashley's situation is less successfully resolved, but that is because of the Cabal's real plan, a twist that was obvious from part way through Revelations Part 1 in all but the manner by which is achieved.

    With this two part story, the show has proved that it can compete with others in the genre and come good.

    Written by Sam Egan & Damian Kindler
    Directed by Martin Wood

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