This 3-disc set includes all 10 action-packed first season episodes, each of which features our hero, Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi), learning to control the extraordinary -- but unpredictable hyper-vigilant senses of perception he developed while fighting for survival in the Peruvian jungle. The series follows him as he adjusts to his new role as a police detective and sentinel of justice, using his powerful senses to be an ever-vigilant watchman in the war against crime.
A cool premise is the foundation for The Sentinel
, a TV cop series presented here on three discs containing all ten shows from 1996. The pilot episode provides the backstory: Former Army Special Operations Captain Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi), sole survivor of a helicopter crash in the wilds of Peru, returns to the States, where, five years later, he's a detective on the Cascade, Washington police force. Seems his time in the jungle has had some unforeseen consequences, as Ellison's five senses have become, well, sensationally developed: he can hear things from so far away that Superman would be envious, smell things a bloodhound couldn't distinguish, see through pitch darkness, and so on. All of this is a mixed blessing; Ellison's sleuthing skills are clearly on a higher level than anyone else's, but his hyperactive senses are a little scary, not easy to control, and accompanied by some very weird side effects. Enter Blair Sandburg (Garett Maggart), a dorky-but-cute anthropologist who helps Jim sort out what's happening to him, in the process becoming his sidekick and the show's comic relief (it's a role somewhat like that of Dean Stockwell, Scott Bakula's holographic mentor in Quantum Leap
). The Sentinel
's stories are all over the place, involving warped serial killers, paramilitary goons, gangs and drugs, crooked cops, mob hits, and more. Fairly ordinary cop stuff, basically, except when co-creators Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo go the extra mile to exploit their premise, as in "Night Train," when a dose of cough syrup sends Ellison on a trip of psychedelic proportions. Overall, the show is slickly realized, with snappy dialogue, appealing characters (Bruce A. Young is a standout as Ellison's boss, Capt. Simon Banks), and some pretty decent special effects and action sequences. At the very least, it's enough to make one hope that The Sentinel
's three subsequent seasons will be released on home video as well--maybe with some bonus features, of which there are none in this set. --Sam Graham