Sunday 5 August 2012


After a few months of syndication, I have watched the entire Space series Sanctuary, an hour long drama about an immortal doctor from the Victorian age and her efforts to preserve and protect the “abnormals” from human society.

It had its moments of occasional witty dialogue and heart-pounding plots.  But it never quite seemed to come together.  The premise was certainly interesting but I found the stories swiftly devolved into monster of the week.  And it was always the same two characters featured: Dr. Magnus (the immortal) and a police profiler/psychologist, Dr. Zimmerman.  The writers kept their relationship squarely in the mentor-protégé category, which was refreshing, but eliminated the excuse for such a tight focus which a romantic relationship would have required.

Maybe I was spoiled by Whedon and the Buffy and Angel series.  While there was often a monster of the week, there was also a season-long plot arc.  The season might begin with a few kill-the-monster moments but towards the end, it felt like a miniseries as the main Big Bad and our heroes faced off against each other.  The Big Bad might be defeated but it got a few victories in first, making it more scary and putting uncertainty back into the mix.

With Sanctuary, the episodes often ended and were never referred to again.  Dr. Magnus lost her daughter in the first season but there was very little reference to it.  It was casual enough that I thought we were dealing with a Marvel-universe effect where dead characters come back again and again.  They also overindulged a little with the silliness.  Watching Zimmerman dance Bollywood to propitiate a giant spider was painful instead of funny.  And the musical episode fell flat.

But there were moments of brilliance that made it worth continuing.  Chris Heyerdahl’s portrayal of an immortal (and teleporting!) Jack the Ripper was a definite draw.  (I enjoy bad guys, especially tall, good looking ones with their brood on.)  Jonathon Young as Nicola Tesla was bitchily hilarious.  His arrogant ego somehow came across as charming instead of irritating.  And I loved Ryan Robbins as the uber-geek/werewolf.  It was refreshing to finally have someone on screen acknowledging how cool everything was.

I did get somewhat tired of the continuous name dropping.  According to the show, Magnus worked with everyone who ever made any mark in history from the Victorian era onward.  Even fictional characters like Jekyll and Hyde and Sherlock Holmes.

It was a fun series and I was disappointed it never quite coalesced into fulfilling its potential.  But I still enjoyed watching it.

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