Sci-Fi’s Sanctuary Needs To Pick Up The Pace

Published 7 years ago by

sanctuary 02 Sci Fis Sanctuary Needs To Pick Up The Pace

There will be outline/story spoilers in this review, so be aware!

Bruce’s First impression: If you’re more action-centric, Sanctuary will drive you crazy waiting for it. If you are story driven and enjoy detailed development, you’ll be fine. In the premiere, detailed story development seemed favored over action but if you’re looking for full time continuity in the story line, you might also be disappointed.

Sanctuary‘s big claim to fame is that it is filmed mostly in front of a green screen. Sometimes you don’t notice it and sometimes it’s rather apparent. In the first 30 minutes we meet most of the different characters of the show, in one form or another.

We first meet Alexi (Cainan Wiebe) when police respond to a noise complaint. The police find him under a bed next to a dead body. The cops also end up dead because of an appendage that pops out and feeds on brains when Alexi is afraid. It’s a side effect of radiation exposure from when he was in the Chernobyl region.

We meet Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), a forensic psychologist who works for the police, and we are either seeing some inane talent or just the unique way his perceptions work when he surveys a crime scene. They haven’t made that clear, but I suspect the latter.

Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), who’s 157 years old, has been keeping track of Will since he was 8. They first intersect as adults when she hits him with her car while chasing Alexi. “Well this isn’t how I hoped we’d first meet,” she says, with an odd English accent.

We then meet Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), the hot blond. She’s in pursuit of Alexi for Dr. Magnus. It turns out that Ashley is the daughter of Helen Magnus. Ashley Magnus has a tendency towards guns and has a ‘tude that they portray well. I was rather annoyed with her glib traits while not accomplishing any of her jobs, despite being the action girl in all leather. See, there are some redeeming show features.

We then meet John Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl) who looks a little like the old black and white version of Dracula. When we first meet him, he’s killing a prostitute after obtaining information about The Sanctuary. He turns out to be Ashley’s father, and back in the day, he was Jack the Ripper. It’s complicated. Something about Dr. Magnus’ blood turned him into something and it has driven him to the point of wanting to kill.

After Dr. Magnus and Dr Zimmerman meet, she takes him to the Sanctuary. It’s there that we meet Bigfoot. Yes, Bigfoot… but he’s only about 6 feet tall, at best. Not very… big. Dr. Magnus pulled some bullets out of him and he stayed on as a staff member of The Sanctuary. It actually looks like the Geico caveman finally got a job!

The Sanctuary is a place where Dr. Magnus either keeps, or lets unique beings, creatures and monsters stay. Some, to be protected from mankind, others, to protect mankind from.

We don’t meet Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) until an hour in. He’s an employee of Dr. Magnus as the technical expert that keeps things running at The Sanctuary.


After we meet Alexi, for some reason, the cops pin the murders that Alexi commits on the downstairs neighbor, no explanation, except this twist seems to be used as a tool to demonstrate Dr. Zimmerman’s ethical character. And I found the complete absence of names with some of the police force interesting. I’m thinking if you have no name, you might as well be wearing a red security shirt (classic Star Trek reference)!

After Magnus and Zimmerman meet, she takes him to The Sanctuary. The guided tour involves showing him some of the more unique residents and it borders on hokey as she explains each one and even apologizes for the behavior of one of them.

Yes, you read right earlier on. John Druitt learns where the super secret Sanctuary is through a street walker. Go figure that one!

Druitt confronts Ashley who went out after being told not to go out. During the confrontation, Ashley empties her gun trying to shoot the guy, even at point blank range. Though he’s lightning fast, when she’s out of ammo, she goes to plan B, which is trying to take him on, hand-to-hand. Yeesh.

Though they talk up how Dr. Magnus has collected the denizens of the Sanctuary, both Helen and Ashley seem extremely challenged in their encounters with Alexi, and then Druitt. Thus, I’m just not sure how they got this far along in their little project with regards to capturing some of these creatures.

Their little project is dedicted to tracking down, studying and protecting strange and terrifying creatures that secretly populate our world and live among us. She’s discovered some process or additive for her blood that has helped her live this long.

Finally: The show has potential but now that the two hour premiere is over with, they aren’t going to be able to pull off this detailed, slow plot development pace each week without boring us to the point of wanting to go out and mow the lawn. They need to pick up the pace and there is potential with the material they have available to them and what they’ve touched on in the premiere. Even if Magnus’ capture methodologies were vaguely, well, actually, completely overlooked.

Right now, I’d be surprised if this webisode-to-TV series lasts past the first season, if that. They’ve slapped it in the Friday night time slot and moved Stargate: Atlantis back an hour to try and capitalize on the audience that will show up during that time frame.

Writing credits show Martin Wood and Damian Kindler, both with extensive experience scribing Stargate, so I was expecting something more. Not sure what, but more than this.

Come on, surprise me Sci-Fi. No, really. Try it sometime.

TAGS: Sanctuary
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  1. Having watched the first batch of webisodes when they came out, the show has suffered a bit, pacing wise, with the transition to TV.

    Gone from the pilot is a whole sub-plot about who the police blamed for the killings — a low life played by STARGATE’s David Hewitt. Dunne’s character proves his mettle by showing the cops have the wrong man, then he launches his investigation into the kid with the deadly appendage.

    I won’t go into all of the changes made in the transition — heh, I don’t remember them all — other than to note that as a series pilot the episode was a great slower than the first collection of episodes from the web.

  2. I’m sorry but this show MUST GO… geesh!!! Better luck next time to A. Tapping. Maybe get MacGyver to appear for a ratings jump. Just IMO.

  3. Y’know, I thought it was good. While it may not have been constantly rock-em-sock-em action, it does something that many shows don’t do, attempt to develop a decent and intriguing plot line. Relying on all flash no substance is what has left the majority of today’s TV as one vapid wasteland of drek, bore me to tears reality shows, police drama done to death, yet another hospital drama, and all the other things that make today’s television a yawnfest of tedium and unoriginality. Worst yet the studio powers-that-be demanding instant hits instead of allowing a show to develop a following and not just rely on flash and star name attraction really turns more people off and makes them less likely to watch than it does to attract viewership.
    Sadly, the show WILL most likely be canceled simply because that’s my personal curse. If I like it, it’s doomed. Ah well, I’ll watch for as long as it airs, long may Sanctuary be for All.

  4. Jody: That’s what I’ve heard, and strange as it may seem, this two hour premiere was a “re-shoot” of the first four web episodes.

    I also find it interesting that Sci-Fi is doing what it always does in alienating fans: It was initially indicated that the deal with the Sci-Fi channel wouldn’t impact web access of the series, but they are presently not available online. Go figure.

    Swisspeas: The first time through, I thought I missed the names of the cops and detectives that responded to the murder scene. I watched it again in the second airing… nada!

    T: Yes. I agree whole heartedly with you, but the networks are beholden to the advertisers and they want sales instantly. It is a most unfortunate circumstance because I don’t mind story development one bit. Even if it did seems a bit slower than my patience was ready for.

  5. >That’s what I’ve heard, and strange as it may seem, this two hour premiere was a “re-shoot” of the first four web episodes.

    Yeah, I think I heard the same thing. It made sense since there were some actual sets this time, so obviously some new monies were ponied up.

    Shame was, I’d have thought that they could have delivered something even stronger than what we got.

  6. Yea. Somehow, Sci-Fi confused it up.

  7. “The cops also end up dead because of an appendage that pops out and feeds on brains when Alexi is afraid.”

    Doesn’t it feed on brains when the person Alexi is around is scared? Not when Alexi is scared?

  8. I hope Sci-fi get its act together with future episodes.
    Dont blow this one.

  9. Slow, dull and confusing. I outlasted the rest of my family by 30 minutes and still didn’t see the end! And what was with the Michael Shanks/Daniel lookalike?

    We won’t be watching this weeks episode.

  10. Oh and another thing, Tapping should stick to the Canadian accent because she sure can’t do an English one! And the Torchwood rip off scene on the roof top…wonder if they can sue? Then again that would open the door for the Buffy guys and the Stargate guys and every other shows ptb’s this piece of rubbish ripped.

    What were Sci Fi thinking?

  11. any ratings yet ?

  12. I too started watching it but became bored. I keep giving Sci-Fi Channel chances but they keep letting me down; they seem to only do Stargates right.

  13. Just tried watching this. Bored the crap out of me. Turned it off and deleted it from my DVR.


  14. I thought that it had potential. The only thing that I found distractiong was Tapping’s accent, which I though was unneccessary and frankly a little strange. It detracted from her dialogue. The use of Heyerdahl was very nice, and I will probably continue to watch just for him.

  15. I really like this show, its improves each week, I think the acting is excellent, nice twists with the characters, I’m hoping its lasts longer than one season.

  16. John: I tend to agree with you, that the episodes are improving. Though it would seem difficult to not improve over how it started. So kudos to the show for the improvement.

    A few cons:
    I’m still trying to adjust to Amanda Tapping’s accent though and there are still a few gaps in story lines.

    Thanks for visiting John.

  17. Gentleman, Amanda Tapping IS British. The “accent” she has is truly how she speaks.

  18. I have only just gotten started on Sanctuary, after being mindlessly bombarded by adverts on the TV for it, and as I currently have nothing to watch in this Genre until Warehouse 13 season 3 comes out. I thought id start, and all i can say is WOW…. I see Amanda Tapping playing the tough yet intelligent Doctor (cough, sam carter cough), I see a slightly nerdy glasses wearing, yet underlyingly handsome doctor (cough, daniel jackson cough), I see a can be couragous, self gratifying tech boy who looovesss his gadgets and has been known to save the day (cough, rodney mckay), I see the dark silent type, who grunts and groans and is battle hardened, helping because of a old deep set loyalty after being saved (cough, teal’c cough)…..

    Ive only watched the pilot so far so i havnt yet placed O’Niel, however there was hints of a kind Docter Lin? Who I have to assume already will have shorter dark hair, probably be either asian or half asian, and will say things to the tough people like… “NO, bed rest for you” and more hopefully “Doctors orders”.

    All in all, Sanctugate seems to have potential if it realises it is its own show and the writers stop having alcohol fueled flash-backs to when they were writing Stargate, on the other hand… fingers crossed for guest appearance from Dean Richardson!!

    • *I mean Richard Dean Anderson, god Im already confused*