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Sanctuary Season One

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Some of the best science fiction to show up in a box in a long time, Sanctuary is edgy, unpredictable and periodically very, very strange.

Doctor Helen Magnus is 157 years old, although as a result of some stealthy Victorian medical experimentation, she hides her age quite well. She runs a sanctuary for mutants, genetic anomalies and other beings of latex and CGI. She and her entourage of fearless monster hunters sneak around tracking down new mutants.

The premise of Sanctuary could have spawned some truly dreadful television, and in that the series was commissioned by the SciFi channel – which has summoned forth more questionable B movies than most radioactive space lizards have had hot meals – it’s truly remarkable how good Sanctuary is. It’s populated by accomplished actors; clever, articulate writing that doesn’t presuppose an audience comprised entirely of radishes; a turgid, quirky story line and deft CGI that gives the whole works a surreal, nightmare-like vibe.

The only regrettable element of Sanctuary is that Season One consists of a mere thirteen episodes. I could have easy watched twice this number.

One of the unfortunate aspects of Sanctuary as it originally appeared on broadcast television is that its nuanced story lines were largely mangled by constant interruptions for commercials and the in-show advertisements for other programs that SciFi likes to display in the lower third of its screen much of the time. It was, in this context, a bit hard to follow. Reborn on DVD with laser-sharp video and no attempts to sell you an iPhone between scenes, it’s a vastly better experience.

If you missed its airing on broadcast, the box set will be a treat.

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