Customer Reviews: Sanctuary: Season 1
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on July 11, 2009
I recently watched this entire series, and although the first few episodes start slow, the series is fantastic. The writers have created a show that combines science fiction with mild horror and amazing story telling that will not let you down. If you have only seen an episode, or even just part of an episode, take my advice and watch the series from the beginning. I had seen the show on a few times, but it failed to get my attention because I was wondering what the heck was going on. Sanctuary is the first sci-fi show in a while that I have been really happy watching. Now that I have seen the first season, I will most certainly be watching Season 2.

- Excellent story that combine myths and legends with our own world.
- Great cast of characters that you can relate to.
- Doesn't go overboard with stupendous plots.
- It's a combination of Science Fiction, Horror, and Drama.
- Contains just the right amount of comedy to give a few laughs.
- Some of the scenes are downright amazing.

Hope this review has been helpful, as I think a lot of people will love this show, but either don't know about it, or don't want to risk wasting their time.
I love it, and I think you will enjoy it as well!
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Imagine this: a giant gothic building that serves as a "sanctuary" to various strange, freakish and/or dangerous creatures that exist in the world.

That's the concept behind "Sanctuary: The Complete First Season," a fantasy/sci-fi show that started off as a series of webisodes, then got turned into a show for the Sci Fi (Sy Fy?) Channel. The first season starts off shaky and sometimes painfully silly (nubbins!), but the second half suddenly smooths itself into a solid arc of secrets, conspiracies, and a fanatical enemy organization.

Forensic psychiatrist Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) has a pretty rotten life -- his girlfriend has left, his job is a joke, and nobody believes his deductions. But during a bizarre murder investigation, he encounters a strange woman named Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) who offers him a job at the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary turns out to be a vast cathedral-like structure filled with "Abnormals" -- mermaids, elementals, iguana-men, two-faced dudes, or anything that doesn't fall in the boundaries of known science. But the Sanctuary's residents are now in danger from a charming Abnormal named John Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl), who has a longtime connection to Helen. And unless he gets what he wants from her, he'll kill her daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup).

Other Sanctuary problems: a trio of amnesiac women who may be the Morrigan, a drug lord among the Folding Men, an autistic boy whose pictures reveal Abnormals, a Himalayan plane crash with a mind-altering monster, a brain parasite in the Bermuda Triangle that threatens to turn Magnus into a psycho killer, the superfertile Nubbins (like carnivorous Totoros), a man who looks suspiciously like Magnus' late father, and a pair of reporters who witness the Sanctuary team fighting rare killer insects. And John Druitt reappears to reveal that an old friend of Helen's has turned against her...

And the Sanctuary has a new enemy -- the fanatical Cabal, who want all Abnormals under their control. When they unleash a biological weapon that turns Abnormals into raving killers, Helen's old study group ("The Five") must reunite to save the Abnormal population.

The first half of "Sanctuary: The Complete First Season" is a severely mixed bag -- most of it isn't really bad, but it's not terribly unique or gripping. And the "nubbins" (tribbles with teeth) episode is just embarrassingly silly. But with the introduction of Nicola Tesla (who is a vampire!), suddenly the entire series tightens up and becomes far more streamlined, complex and emotionally powerful.

Along the way, the writers fill the series with all sorts of freaky creatures (ranging from a Hulk-like supersoldier to a floating snake beastie), slimy body parts, and some gun-heavy action scenes. The writing is rather wobbly in the first half ("Women and geeks first... oh, no, that's all of us"), but the sci-fi edge gives it a quirky appeal ("I guess Ike didn't want to breathe the same air as the Nazi High Command." "Some of them didn't even breathe air").

And "Sanctuary" has a pretty striking look -- half industrial science complex, and half Gothic decay, with vast cathedral-like buildings, grey cloudy skies, and the half-ruined Old City. Most of the backgrounds are CGI, which gives the series a smooth, stylized look.

Despite her awkward accent, Tapping is a powerful presence as the hyperintellectual, immortal Helen Magnus, and Dunne is brilliant from the start as the Daniel Jackson of the series (smart and geeky, with a tragic past). Ryan Robbins is great as the resident techno-superbrain, who is haunted by his own Abnormal secret, and Christopher Heyerdahl does a brilliant two-character turn -- he's the charming, smooth killer John Druitt, and he's also the shy but kindly butler Bigfoot.

The one false note is Ashley -- while Ullerup does a fair job, the character is an urban fantasy cliche -- cocky, gun-happy, and wears a leather catsuit during fights. But the supporting cast is pretty fascinating, especially since the writers start ushering in Victorian literary and historical figures.

"Sanctuary: The Complete First Season" has some mighty wobbles in its first half, but the second half stabilizes and flowers like a black rose. Watch it, if nothing else to prepare for the second season.
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on July 2, 2009
Let me preface this with the fact that getting me 'into' a new tv series is not easy, and add to that that I am not what I would call a sci fi/horror loyalist. I enjoy these genres, but I am not addicted to either one. What I like most is drama.

That stated, Sanctuary took me a couple of episodes to get hooked, but hooked I got. Not sure exactly what did it for me, but I believe it was that the show presents a very well honed mix of horror, sci fi, and investigative action. The balance is interesting, and just when you need a dose of one of the elements, you get it.

Blending the genres, to me, has resulted in a show that is full of surprises and full of fun, but also filled with drama (my fav). I would add to this that the special f/x are stupendous, especially for a tv series.
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VINE VOICEon September 25, 2009
When forensic psychiatrist Dr. Will Zimmerman encounters Dr. Helen Magnus, he is introduced to a whole new world of creatures from dreams and nightmares. Dr. Helen Magnus has taken the responsibility of providing a safe haven for "abnormals," to protect them from the world and the world from them.

Amanda Tapping stars as Dr. Helen Magnus, the mysterious proprietor of the Sanctuary. Dr. Magnus' daughter Ashley is an expert fighter/sharpshooter and monster hunter, played by Emilie Ullerup. Robin Dunne is Dr. Zimmerman, new to the Sanctuary but with special gifts of his own. Ryan Robbins adds comedy relief to the show as the tech-geek in charge of keeping the Sanctuary safe as Henry Foss. And Christopher Heyerdahl makes special guest appearances as villainous John Druitt, who shares a secret past with Dr. Magnus.

Each episode is a dark, suspenseful, action-packed, and humorous, with a new creature (and mystery) to face. The characters are well-written and brilliantly cast. With each episode, more is revealed about the characters and the overlying arc of the story. When John Druitt comes on the scene, he is immediately apparent as the sinister "bad guy." But even he has a story and a reason for his actions.

With incredibly storytelling, fantastic characters, and stunning visual effects, Sanctuary is now one of my all-time favorite shows. It's one no science fiction fan should miss.
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on April 30, 2014
The first show was not an attention grabber at all. I have been buying the first episode of several different shows this is one of the disappointing ones. Just not an attention grabber in the slightest.
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on June 12, 2013
The show has a wonderful overall plot. I find the show more entertaining than I thought I would. For season one I have to say the only disappointment I had is with the character Ashley. The actress is terrible or the writers hated her character; either way I was constantly disappointed with her screen time. The other actors do from a good to great job. I am a huge Amanda Tapping fan so I must say she is fabulous.

The art style seems influenced by Zack Snyder (bits of 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch); more so with the original webisodes which are also included on the disc. I am glad they included them on the disc. It is quite interesting to see the changes in the plot and characters from the initial web creation of the show to mainstream television. I thought they would be closer than they were; both versions are just as entertaining. Good job to both sets of writers.
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on October 6, 2011
I started watching season 3 in Australia and decided to buy Season 1 to get the full story.

So glad I did. Rocking show that keeps you interested and on your toes. I especially like the references to historical characters, but best bit are the life-forms. Stunning.
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on March 11, 2012 sister and I found a new series that we've been watching....well, it is actually going on its second season this fall, but if you have Netflix, you can catch the first season online. It is called 'Sanctuary' and will be on the new improved SyFy channel.

If you like the legends of old like the Folding man, Big Foot, animal mixed humanoids, and just things that go bump in the night, you will enjoy this dark fantasy/sci-fi show. Dr. Helen Magnus (played by Amanda Tapping) is a beautiful scientist that seems to has wisdom beyond her years and with the help of her daughter, Ashley (Emilie Ullerup) and a few other various colleagues, offer sanctuary for the world's 'abnormals', or creatures and beings that come from our legends and myths

Joining their little group is Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), a forensic psychiatrist whose mother was killed by something evil when he was young. Of course, laughed off as just a young boy in trauma, Will is ignored and becomes an eccentric...good at his job, but regarded as crazy. When a case that is not all that it seems lands in his sights, Will comes face to face with Dr. Magnus and her collection of creatures.As the pilot concludes, Helen offers Will a job, to work with her and protect the 'abnormals' finding them and giving them a sanctuary away from the destructive humans, who don't understand them.

Sanctuary reminds me a little of 'X-files' and has the dark raw humor of series like 'Angel' and 'Buffy'. Its characters are well developed and fun, though I have only watched a few episodes. The special effects are television quality and the action is believable or as much as a fantasy show can make it. As for the story lines, they are well played, interesting, and keep you guessing throughout the show.

If you miss the good fantasy felt in 'Angel', or the investigations in 'X-files', 'Sanctuary' offers that in a dark and fun way. It's an extremely entertaining romp and comes back this fall on the SyFy channel. Watch and enjoy!!
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on November 16, 2013
Overall, a series that grows on you, but don't expect Star Gate or Star Gate Atlantis. Some of the episodes are cheeseball in that they are just not believable due to physics mistakes, and some of them will make you laugh if you know anything about physics or kinetic energy, or science in general.

The last season is written the best and is the most believable. When I say above that some of the episodes are physics wise unbelievable, what I mean isn't that there is advanced technology. There is no physics related problem with that idea, since those physical things haven't been invented. In that way, writers can take creative liberty, and rightly so.

The problem is when known physics is violated. I'll give you a good example using military hardware. We've all seen the shows where a soldier hides behind a brick wall, or even more egregious, a normal metal or wood structure, like a wooden table or the corner of a building, while bullets ricochet off harmlessly. In some instances, it can work, in others, it's just annoying to watch. Fifty caliber ammunition goes through brick and cinder-block. You need to be virtually in a tank to avoid being shredded by a .50 cal gun. A small .223 round will penetrate 1/4" steel plate head on at 30 yards. So you get the picture. The bad guys storm out and riddle some empty 50 gallon steel drums with .223 or 7.62 rounds, which then bounce harmlessly away. No, they don't. That's what makes guns so terrifying--they go through walls. Again, a small .223 round will penetrate through several 2x4s before stopping, which could be through a couple houses, or even more. Or, you watch a group of people get blown off their feet and back 25 feet because of the blast of ordinance. Again, humans don't survive that sort of kentic energy. Remember, a blast of military ordinance can expand at over 20, 000 feet per second or 14, 000 miles per hour. Getting hit with that blast close enough to blow you off your feet, into the air, and back 25 feet or more would cause so much internal damage you'd bleed out internally before you hit the ground.

Anyway, except for situations like that, which no writer or producer should ever make in the 21st century, and one episode of time travel, which Eisenstein, contrary to popular belief, never said could work, the series is good and the characters grow on you. And, again, not as much as Star Gate /Atlantis/ Star Trek series. But it's fairly solid as far as sci-fi these days goes, which could be argued isn't too far.

It's too bad the series couldn't have kept going because by the 4th season, everything was starting to work really well. Buy it all at once and you can get it for around 10 bucks a season.
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on December 20, 2012
I bought the first season because I was/am a great fan of Stargate SG1. I have viewed about five episodes and while the premise is interesting, the plots and writing are bland.

The characters are not strong enough. They each need their own eccentricities to be more interesting.
Amanda Tapping's British accent seems to come and go.

Finally, conflicts get resolved too easily. The writers need to make things much harder on the characters. The bad guys need to be more of a challenge.

I will finish the season, but if it doesn't improve, will not buy the second season.
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