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Featured TV on DVD Review: Sanctuary: Season Three

October 21st, 2011

Sanctuary: Season Three - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Sanctuary is apparently the first webseries to ever be turned into a full TV series. At the beginning of October, it started its fourth season, while at the beginning of September, season three hit the home market on DVD or Blu-ray. The screener arrived late, but was it worth the wait?

The Show

First a brief intro to the show. Sanctuary stars Amanda Tapping as Dr. Helen Magnus, a brilliant scientist, who was injected with pure vampire blood greatly increasing her lifespan. At the start of the series, she's over 150 years old. In the late 1800s, she helped start an organization that would later become Sanctuary, a group dedicated to dealing with Abnormals, helping those that are in trouble and stopping those that are causing trouble. She's helped by Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), who is the second in command; Kate Freelander (Agam Darshi), a con artist / thief; Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins), tech guy and Bigfoot.

The third season starts where the second season ends. Big Bertha is the Avatar of Kali and the largest and most powerful of the Abnormals. She is also very pissed. Dr. Helen Magnus was relieved as head of the Sanctuary Network and her replacement, Terrence Wexford (Paul McGillion) tried to kill Big Bertha, something Magnus was supposed to do previously, but decided against. (Kali's death would have caused more harm in unintended consequences.) At the end of season two, Kali caused massive tsunamis and the only way to stop them was to contact her and beg for mercy. However, the only way to contact her was through Will's death. The plan works, but before Will is revived, something happens to him in the afterlife. It takes an episode later for him to remember, but it is the driving force of the season.

It is also a pretty big spoiler, so I can't give a lot of details. Without giving too much away, Dr. Helen Magnus and the Sanctuary team learn of a technologically advanced city that they are supposed to find, but there are precious few clues to begin with. Fortunately, relatively early in the season they rescue Nikola Tesla (Jonathon Young), who, like Dr. Magnus, was injected by vampire blood, but he was given control over magnetism, although he has lost a lot of power recently. It's a long story. A little way into the season, two more old acquaintances show up to help (Jack the Ripper and Jekyll and Hyde). That's an even longer story.

That's the main storyline for the season, but there is also a secondary plot involving Abby Corrigan, an F.B.I. Agent who went to the academy with Will. It's less developed and less successful, although Vigilante, the episode she's introduced, is very good, as is Out of the Blue. There are also quite a few stand-alone episodes that are much better. In the Bank Job, the team has to retrieve a stolen abnormal that's locked in a safety deposit box. When they learn the egg has hatched, they need to seal the bank and the easiest way to do that is to rob it. Hangover has a good mixture of humor, suspense and action and is one of the better episodes this season. There's a couple episodes late in the season dealing with Normandy, both past and present, while the season finale is also a highlight, but there are too many spoilers to talk about that.

Overall, even the weakest episodes are worth checking out, and thanks to the continuing story, the season has a whole has strong replay value. If you are a fan, then this season is absolutely worth owning. If you've never seen the show, but like X-Files, Warehouse 13, Fringe, then it is worth checking out, but start with season one.

The Extras

The episodes are found on the first five discs of this six-disc set. There are also seven audio commentary tracks spread throughout the twenty episodes. Disc six is set aside for extras and there's a lot of them. There are two featurettes on episodes with special directors: Amanda Tapping and Damian Kindler (the creator). There's another featurette on the visual effects of the show and there are a lot of them. The genesis of the main storyarc is discussed in Hollow Earth. The composer is featured in The Music of Sanctuary. There's a behind-the-scenes featurette for Normandy. A character profile for Nikola Tesla and the actor who plays him, Jonathon Young. Sanctuary for Kids is a charity supported by the fans and there's an update here. There are six minutes of outtakes. And finally, there are just over 30 minutes of deleted scenes. The total running time of all the extras is over two and a half hours, which is very impressive.

The Blu-ray's technical specs are solid. In fact, the show is filmed on Red One, which has four times the resolution of regular high definition, so it should come as no surprise that the image looks fantastic. In fact, it has such great details levels that it sometimes makes the special effects look a little dodgy. (They are trying to do a show with more special effects than a lot of action films, but on a cable budget, so I'm not complaining.) The audio is solid with clear dialogue, good ambient sounds, directional effects, etc. Again, it's not as good as a theatrical release would be, but great for TV on DVD.

As for the price, the Blu-ray only costs 23% more than the DVD, which is excellent.

The Verdict

The third season of Sanctuary is the best so far and the DVD and Blu-ray have more than enough extras that it's worth buying. The video quality is easily enough to justify upgrading to Blu-ray, especially considering the reasonable price.

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