01/03/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
region 2 DVD: pub: E1 Entertainment E1E10709. 4 DVDs 585 minutes 13 episodes with extras. Price: GBP 9.99 (UK) if you know where to look) cast: Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Christopher Heyerdahl, Ryan Robbins and Agam Darshi.
check out websites: www.entertainmentone.co.uk and www.sanctuaryforall.com
The second season of ‘Sanctuary’ seemed in a rush to get rid of the Cabal which tended to relegate just how powerful they were supposed to be from season one, especially considering that they had a research project that could dish out super-humans. With Ashley gone, a new recruit, Kate Overlander (actress Agam Darshi) is accidentally picked up and is the token human and whose own agenda changes over the episodes.
Several of the stories don’t follow normal expectation as to where they are going. With the death of Ashley, there is always the sharp reminder than no character is exactly safe here. When something happens to the big fella, you’re never sure what to believe. We’re more familiar with doing that over here than in America so we’re probably less surprised by that.
The Sanctuaries are shown to be vulnerable and after Cabal attacks and there has to be a re-distribution of abnormals in the aftermath while repairs are carried out. It’s a shame that we don’t really see more of that and the associated problems but with only half the length of a traditional American season perhaps that is understandable. Even so, it would have made an interesting B story for the season.
There are some very good episodes in this season. ‘Hero’ for its comic (sic and double sic) elements when a human thinks he’s a super-hero and Magnus and her team have to work out how. There’s a superb alternative reality with ‘Paynor Nocturnus’ and Magnus finding herself having to work out what is going on in a dank and dangerous future.
John Druitt (actor Christopher Heyerdahl) returns in ‘Haunted’ and there is an examination of what makes him tick and it turns out to be something akin to the original ‘Star Trek’ episode ‘Wolf In The Fold’ as being a separate electromagnetic entity picked by teleporting which isn’t picked up on in the audio commentary. Heyerdahl is especially effective with the changes. It did make me ponder on how this would have affected the only other teleporter, Ashley Magnus. It would explain how much of a knife-edge her personality was when the Cabal brainwashed her to work for them.
Tessla (actor Jonathon Young) appears in ‘Sleepers’ and finds his mission to resurrect vampires starting prematurely. The audio commentary points out the thought that he was deemed too powerful and the solution to this story tones that down. Young sparkles whenever he appears and I hope more is done to give him more material.
Magnus has problems not only with abnormal but also her own people, mostly because of her breaking her own rules which results in some rebellion in the two part ‘Kali’. You would have it easier had she modified her own rules or even added some extra clauses without necessarily explaining all the reasons. I suspect this element of age and disguised arrogance will be covered in season three.
I still think creator Damian Kindler is having problems getting around doing the shorter seasons, let alone playing it as if it’s a graphic novel than a TV production. I’m glad there’s not a total reliance on CGI all the time in this season. The Mombai setting in the two-part ‘Kali’ is nicely realised and so is Will Zimmerman (actor Robin Dunne) with his dance for the spider goddess. I’m still puzzled why Druitt and not the Big Guy is appearing in the opening credits group photo and on the box cover, especially as the latter appears the most times. He’s certainly more handsome than Druitt.
A comment made in the audio commentary for ‘Fragments’ about using lubrication to putting on latex gloves is actually very wrong. That would compromise and damage the latex and talc is often much better – most surgical gloves actually contain a sprinkling inside. If all else fails, blow them up like a balloon before putting them on, but don’t inhale.
The extras are of variable quality. Other than them tripping up on getting on the stage, I’m still not quite sure how useful showing their Comicon appearance was. With the making of feature, I really would like director/co-producer Martin Wood to explain how in using green screen so much how is it that none of the green gets lit into the actors or props. Granted the lights have to be at the right angle but even so, I’d love something more in depth explaining that. It isn’t helped with the audio commentaries half the time trying to find something more relevant to what’s going on screen. Sometimes, it feels too much like a party that you weren’t really invited to but allowed to hang around which is a shame cos when it isn’t, then it’s a good listen.
Looking through this review, I do wonder if I appear more down than I should about it. The stories are actually well done for a limited budget but some outside perspective occasionally might have helped on some of the plot realisations. Still, it’s reached season four so that’s a good sign that the series is continuing.
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