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I certainly liked where SANCTUARY seemed to be heading once it began playing out larger story arcs, as opposed to being just another monster of the week television show. However, for some strange reason, season two of SANCTUARY does some backpedaling, and reverts more or less to the monster of the week format. Sure, the series remains likable, but SANCTUARY works better when it has a larger sense of purpose, instead of just following a closed ended episodic structure. Fortunately, Amanda Tapping is on hand to keep the show interesting and worth watching.

SANCTUARY follows the adventures of Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), a scientist that is quite a bit older than she appears, who has made it her life’s work to study and protect the "Abnormals" of the world, most people would consider monsters. The Sanctuary of the show’s title referrers to the institute in which she studies the "Abnormals" that also provides safe houses to protect them from the outside world. Also assisting Magnus in her quest to protect and study "Abnormals" of the world are her forensic psychiatrist Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne); the sanctuary’s chief computer and security tech Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins); and an intelligent Neanderthal, that so many refer to as Bigfoot (Christopher Heyerdahl); Kate Freelander (Agam Darshi) joins the team after switching sides from the Cabal. Season two also includes appearances from John Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl), Magnus' former lover, whose motivations can go from belligerent to benevolent. Also Magnus’ daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup) only makes a couple of appearances in this go around.

SANCTUARY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($50) comes to Blu-ray in a four-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes that were aired in the show’s sophomore year: End Of Nights Part 1, End Of Nights Part 2, Eulogy, Hero, Pavor Nocturnus, Fragments, Veritas, Next Tuesday, Penance, Sleepers, Haunted, Kali Part 1 and Kali Part 2.

E1 Entertainment has made all thirteen episodes from SANCTUARY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The episodes feature similar 1080p presentations, as were found on the season one set, with series production technique having an effect on the visual qualities. Much of SANCTUARY is shot on green screen, with CGI backgrounds standing in for complex and expensive to build sets. Of course, the marriage of actors and foreground objects to the CGI backgrounds isn’t being done with a theatrical feature film budget, so some softness and other visual anomalies are introduced into the picture. Sequences without computer-generated backgrounds are cleaner, crisper and better defined than those incorporating effects. Unprocessed shots offer excellent detail and texturing, especially the close-ups, which is attributable to the Red digital cameras used for shooting. Colors are rendered at a natural level of saturation. Blacks are accurate, while the whites appear clean. The elements from which the episodes are mastered are free from flaws. Darker sequences do contain level of digital noise.

All of the episodes that constitute SANCTUARY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. Again, the sonics mirror what was heard on season one. The sound designs are not overly complex, but good sounding and competent. SANCTUARY is a rather talky, monster of the week television show, as opposed to being an action driven one. Being talky, sound is confined to the front (and largely center) much of the time. Of course, some active effects make their way to the outlying channels, as do the usual complement of ambient and environmental sounds. For a television level production, SANCTUARY features good fidelity, which is attributable to the lossless encode. Dialogue is clean and always easy to understand. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been provided, as has an English 2.0 channel track and English subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Running Audio Commentaries have been provided for all of the episodes. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Amanda Tapping Directs Veritas, Next Tuesday: Anatomy Of An Episode, Sanctuary Visual Effects, Sanctuary For Kids, Behind The Scenes And On The Set, Sanctuary Goes To Japan, Sanctuary, Panel Discussion At Comic-Con and Dancing In Mumbai. A Blooper Reel, and Still Gallery close out the supplements.

Although SANCTUARY backpedals into monster of the week format, the series still proves good fun. The Blu-ray presentations are solid and are far more enjoyable than a cable broadcast. Recommended.



Sanctuary: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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