Sanctuary: Sanctuary for All (series premiere)
by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 4th 2008 1:01AM
(S01E01) This is one of the more hyped premieres of recent years on Sci Fi. It began life last year as the first big budget made for the Internet series, pumping out eight 12-18 minute webisodes. While it wasn't initially intended as a springboard for a flesh and blood television series, nevertheless it's happened. Filmed primarily on green screen, it is this aspect of the show that seems to get all the press.
That and the presence of Stargate alumnus Amanda Tapping in the starring role as Dr. Helen Magnus. Dr. Magnus runs a sanctuary for supernatural creatures gathered from all reaches of the earth and across all spectrums, including time. I enjoyed the webisodes, but found them to be scatological (some might say so) scattered in presentation. This pilot episode does a nice job of creating a cohesive narrative from many of the elements of those webisodes. Equally impressive is the quality of the special effects in use. When you consider that virtually every scene presented is a digital effect, including many of the most mundane environments, it really is a testament to how far computer technology has come. And what better place to showcase these advancements than Sci Fi.
With Battlestar Galactica going off the air after this last run in early 2009, it was kind of appropriate to see Kandyse McClure (Dualla) ushering herself out of Dr. Zimmerman's life and him into his new one immersed in the world of the weird and wonderful. Emilie Ullerup is herself an alumnus from Battlestar Galactica. Though her part was much more minor, she played the mother of the child used to torture Starbuck on New Caprica, she was nevertheless an important part of the story.
- I thought the tour of the various inhabitants was very well done, though I didn't really see how the guy with two faces really fit in with the idea of miraculous creatures. It just looked like a bad case of conjoined twins.
- It's nice to see that at least one of the boys from Cavemen has been able to find work, even if it is as a butler.
- Helen Magnus has been alive for over a hundred years. Why now does she suddenly feel the need for additional staff to help her in finding and helping her "patients."
- Have you ever noticed how these clandestine organizations that deal in the supernatural or otherworldly always find a fresh-faced recruit in the law enforcement organization. Then we get the story with that person as our everyman. Sanctuary is like Torchwood minus the aliens.
- We launched into almost every commercial break on a flash of Dr. Zimmerman making his "Huh?" face. Synchronicity!
- Is it just me or does Robin Dunne's Dr. Will Zimmerman remind you of Michael Shanks' Dr. Daniel Jackson of Stargate: SG-1.
- Christopher Heyerdahl does a good job at playing sinister. I'm not sure why tall, pale and bald are considered prerequisites for "bad guy" status in most shows, but as baddie John Druitt, Heyerdahl fits the stereotype.
Overall, I'd consider the green screen usage to be a resounding success. Sure, there were moments where it was obvious we were looking at CG, like the moment we panned down on the top of Castle Sanctuary, Alecksi's appendage or any moment with the mermaid, but there were just as many sequences where it was seamlessly integrated into the scene. I thought the pacing of this premiere, however, could have been a bit faster. While it was an enjoyable introduction to an interesting premise, there were scenes that dragged on a bit longer than necessary.
|Definitely, great so far||253 (48.7%)|
|On the fence, it has potential||220 (42.4%)|
|No, it was terrible.||46 (8.9%)|