DVD: Sanctuary: The Complete Third Season
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Sanctuary takes the viewer on an incredible journey into an alternate reality, a modern version of a Jules Verne world, where otherworldly creatures, ranging from the worst nightmare to the fantastical, co-exist secretly with humans. The existence of these monstrous creatures is known to a few factions. Some desire the eradication of these beings while many wish to deny their existence. Others want to use them in their personal quests for power.
Enter the Sanctuary team, a unit dedicated to tracking down, studying and protecting the strange, often terrifying, and wondrous creatures known as Abnormals. The team is led by the intriguing and charismatic Dr. Helen Magnus who, with her father, started a world-wide organization that provides safe havens for these strange beings, called the Sanctuary network. It’s a place of refuge where abnormals live without harassment or disguise. She’s aided in her quest by forensic psychiatrist Will Zimmerman, tech expert Henry Foss, and professional con artist Kate Freelander. Often at odds with government officials aware of the purpose of the Sanctuary, their ultimate goal is to someday build a bridge of understanding so that abnormals and humans can inhabit the world together in peace.
But Magnus and her team are not your ordinary monster hunters. Several members of the team are themselves abnormal. Magnus has been around for almost 160 years. Her butler is Bigfoot and she’s traveled the world with history’s most notorious murderer, the mysterious and unpredictable John Druitt, aka Jack the Ripper, and the love of Helen’s life. She attended university at Oxford in the 1800s, and several of her old college chums drop by now and again, adding even more mayhem to the mix.
For fans of Sanctuary, the Season 3 DVD/Blu-ray box set release is like coming home on Halloween with a bagful of one’s favorite candy. For those who haven’t yet discovered this little gem of a series, Season 3 is a great entry point into the Sanctuary universe. Running 20 episodes, it is the longest season to date. Selected episodes have commentaries featuring Amanda Tapping, Martin Wood, Damian Kindler, Robin Dunne, and others. With the release of the DVD, viewers are able watch all episodes without the pesky mid-season break added by the television network. Watching all the shows in sequence, the seamlessness of the umbrella arc is more traceable and allows the viewer to catch all the subtle clues and hints written into each episode.
Season 3 follows the residents of the Sanctuary as they discover the existence of a parallel world — a world rich in resources and technological advancements where humans and other races dwell in outward harmony. It’s a world unknown to Helen Magnus, but one her father knew about and never revealed to her. The season follows the team as they investigate whether this place exists, the search for its location and the effect the knowledge of and contact with the hidden world within a world has on the known earth.
The timeline of Sanctuary spans more than 100 years, from the present era to the Victorian age when a young Helen Magnus studied at Oxford, along with the other characters who have become known as The Five. The Five were concerned with scientific experiments that pushed the envelope of known data with surprising results. Other than Helen Magnus and John Druitt, The Five include Nigel Griffin, the original invisible man; Dr. James Watson, the model for Sherlock Holmes and possessor of the world’s most brilliant deductive skills; and Nikola Tesla, the scientist, but with a twist — he’s the last remaining member of the race of vampires. In Season 3, we see the introduction of another character from this time — Adam Worth, who is, as Tesla informs us, Jekyll and Hyde.
The move from present time to Victorian added to the gadgetry, technology and stunning visual effects infuse Sanctuary with a decidedly steampunk vibe. Created and executive produced by the skilled trio of Amanda Tapping (who stars as Dr. Helen Magnus), director Martin Wood, and writer Damian Kindler, Sanctuary has been acclaimed for its quirky characters, quick-witted, fast-paced dialogue, and the quality of its visual effects. The series has been a pioneer in green screen technology, whereby most locations and events have been manufactured by the visual effects team. One of the bonus features is about how this “magic” is accomplished.
One of the great nuggets in this DVD set, and my personal favorite, is an entire disc devoted to special features. Lengthy for bonus features (most of the segments run around 15 minutes), the focus is on the way the show is crafted and the people who make it happen. Fans are invited behind the scenes to be the proverbial fly on the wall. We’re introduced to remarkably talented people that help make Sanctuary the show we love, like Special Effects Supervisor Lee Wilson and music composer Andrew Lockington. For the first time, the extras include deleted scenes, and the blooper reel is actually funny. One humorous warning — you’ll see a bit more of Robin Dunne than you’re expecting to see.
The diamond of the bonus features is the Nikola Tesla character profile, with interviews of Jonathon Young, the talented, versatile actor who portrays Tesla. Due in part to his brilliant performance, Tesla has become a favorite character all over the world. We discover that not only is he a fan favorite, he’s also a favorite of the cast and crew, with writer Damian Kindler referring to him as a “colorful, never boring fly in the ointment.”
The six-disc set contains some of the best episodes of the series, including fan favorites “Animus,” where Henry discovers he’s not the only lycan around; “For King & Country”, where Magnus discloses the turbulent beginnings Adam Worth shares with The Five; “Awakening”, where Magnus and Tesla discover a vampire tomb containing secret knowledge of the Vampiris race; and the outstanding “Normandy”, a look back to Magnus’s role in the event of WWII and a beautiful tribute to those in the military.
Those involved in the making of the show are proud that the crew and cast have been able to build an atmosphere that is not Hollywood. Individuals’ talents are allowed to shine in differing areas and it’s obvious even through watching that the people have great respect for one another.
In episode #4, “Trail of Blood”, Tesla says, “never bore your audience.” This tenet seems to be a driving force for the creative personalities who produce Sanctuary. So far it appears to be working, as the show has built a large and loyal fan base over its first three seasons, a fan base that is highly respected and acknowledged by the cast and production team of the show. I will freely admit that I am a dedicated fan of the series, so it gets a definite recommendation from me. Another plus is the historical and literary references that permeate the series. Sanctuary is a spectacular visual and auditory feast for those who love good storytelling, great action, gadgets galore and imaginative worlds and creatures. However, Sanctuary is not for everyone’s taste. The stories are sometimes dark, exploring our nightmares and fears as well as our dreams of fantasy.
The cast of Sanctuary includes Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Ryan Robbins, Christopher Heyerdahl, Jonathon Young, and Peter Wingfield. The executive producers are Amanda Tapping, Martin Wood and Damian Kindler.
The Season 3 DVD/BR set was released in the US and Canada on Sept. 13, Australia on Sept 14 and the UK on Sept. 26.
- “Kali Part III”
- “Bank Job”
- “Trail of Blood”
- “Hero II: Broken Arrow”
- “For King & Country”
- “The Hollow Men”
- “Pax Romana”
- “One Night”
- “Out of the Blue”
- “Into the Black”
- Visual Effects of Season 3
- Amanda Tapping Directs “One Night”
- Hollow Earth
- Damian Kindler: In the Director’s Chair
- The Music of Sanctuary
- Behind the Scenes: “Normandy”
- Sanctuary for Kids
- Character Profile: Nikola Tesla
- Audio Commentary on Select Episodes
- Bloopers/Outtakes and Deleted Scenes