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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Sanctuary-Season 1 (Blu-ray) (2008)

Sanctuary-Season 1 (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 9-Jun-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-All episodes
Featurette-Making Of-3 Parts
Featurette-Green Screen Picture-in-Picture
Teaser Trailer-Season 2
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 587:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Martin Wood
Brenton Spencer
S.A. Adelson
Peter DeLuise
Tricon Film & Televi
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Amanda Tapping
Robin Dunne
Emilie Ullerup
Ryan Robbins
Christopher Heyerdahl
Case 4-Way Cross-Dual
RPI ? Music Ian Browne
Joel Goldsmith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Sanctuary is a Canadian made Science Fiction series which finds its niche somewhere at the join of Dr Who, Torchwood and Primeval. It is family viewing for young teens and above.

     DanielB recently reviewed the Special Edition of the series. His review here is the place to start.

     The question for those with a Blu-ray player is whether this series demands to be bought on High Definition. That involves a few questions - is there a significant improvement in sound and vision and, secondly, are there additional Blu-ray exclusive extras.

     The series itself is a welcome addition to the sci-fi market. Both familiar - Will's back-story seems to have been pick pocketed from Fox Mulder - and fresh - Amanda Tapping was born to play the all-knowing Dr Helen Magnus. The series takes a while to get going. The openings shows are pretty clumsy if enjoyable (the Folding Man is another X-Files lend) but the characters only start to gel about half way through. Once they do it becomes a must-watch series.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     Sanctuary Season 1 is presented on Blu-ray in the original TV 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

     In his review DanielB found the video quality overall to be disappointing. It lacked sharpness in the background although the foreground was sufficiently clear. This problem is alleviated but not removed by the Blu-ray transfer.

     The series is notable for being the first inside North America to be entirely shot on the RED camera. For the uninitiated, this is a pure digital camera which records directly to a hard drive for easy post production. The series was also shot largely on green screen. The combined effect is that there is a digital shimmer over the CGI work that lessens the crispness of the image. At times the characters seem to be walking slightly above the ground. Check out the entry into the crypt at the beginning of Episode 3 to see what I mean.

     That said, there is a lot to like in the close-ups and the flesh tones are, with one exception, very accurate. The exception is Will whose skin seems a little chameleon-like - perhaps it is the make-up? The colour palette is quite muted to match the subject matter but those colours that do exist are bright and accurate.

     There is a fair bit of digital noise about but this tends to fade into the distance as the eyes adjust to the series.

     So is it enough of an improvement to justify the extra spend? Not having seen the DVD (but having watched it on TV) I am going to go with a tentative "yes". For those, like me, who will automatically buy the Blu-ray there is no question. For those less concerned about the wonders of Blu-ray the DVDs should suffice.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     DanielB also found the DVD audio quality to be somewhat disappointing containing a measly English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. The good news is that the audio quality has been pumped for High Definition. Now there are two 5.1 soundtracks - one a DTS HD Master Audio and the other a Dolby Digital track running at 448Kb/s.

     The commentary tracks are still in the 2.0 format.

     For reasons that are not clear I found my player defaulted to the standard 5.1 track and I had to select the DTS HD track from the in-programme audio selection menu - an annoyance.

     The DTS HD track is pretty good. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand and the separation is nicely done. Having said that there is not exactly a wealth of surround action in the episodes and the sub-woofer is a little underpowered, even where explosions rocked the Sanctuary.

     Joel Goldsmith (son of Gerry) provides the main theme and the remainder of the scoring is by former indie-rock drummer Ian Browne. An attractive and effective piece of scoring.

     So does the audio track justify the extra Blu-ray spend? It is certainly streets ahead of the DVD though not perfect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     The DVD Special Edition contained an extra DVD of materials. The Blu-ray extends the booty but, unfortunately, ever so slightly. The series is spread over 4 Blu-rays with the bulk of the extras on the fourth. There is an attractive slipcase.


     Every episode of the series contains a commentary track. These are pretty breezy and light. There is a certain candidness about what worked and what didn't in the series and the challenges and lessons of working with green screen.

     The details of who is on each track is as follows

  1. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  2. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  3. Sam Egan (Writer), Emilie Ullerup (Actress) & James Head (Director)
  4. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  5. Sam Egan (Writer), Emilie Ullerup (Actress) & Peter DeLuise (Director)
  6. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  7. Ryan Robbins (Actor), Sam Egan (Writer) & Brett Spencer (Director)
  8. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  9. Ryan Robbins (Actor), Sam Egan (Writer) & Brett Spencer (Director)
  10. Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer), Steve Adelson (Director of episode) & Matty Finnochio (Actor)
  11. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor)
  12. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)

Webisodes (130:04)

     Amanda Tapping provides the introduction to the two sets of webisodes, showing us where the show came from. The structure of the webisodes is slightly different although most of the material popped up in the final TV shows. It makes an interesting companion to the commentary tracks where the director is able to point out which bits they added to and how they integrated material from the webisodes into the larger format.

Making of (16:19)

     A series of three featurettes on the making of the show. All are interesting in providing some insight into the origins of the show and how the filmmakers have been able to put the series together whilst sometimes having to make compromises on the budget side. All could have been a little more in-depth and a little longer but welcome nonetheless. They are:

Bloopers (3:33)

     These are more goof-offs than bloopers although there are a few line fluffs and prop failures. All in good spirit.

Photo Gallery - 25 photos

     A series of production stills from the show.

Season Two Sneak Peak (0:52)

     A short teaser for Season 2. Bring it on!

Green Screen Picture-In-Picture

     This is the only new extra exclusive to Blu-ray. It enables the viewer to watch the first double episode of the series with an inset box showing the film with the green screen unadorned. Part of the fun is looking at the sections and trying to pick the green screen. Some, like the "old England" street from the second episode, are entirely fake. Worth a watch.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is an All-Region Blu-ray which is identical around the World.


     Sanctuary starts with an interesting premise and takes a while to work into it. When it hits its stride the show becomes a particularly effective sci-fi thriller with some decent characterisations.

     The Blu-ray is pretty good looking without being exceptional though the limitations are acknowledged by the creator. It augurs well for the future series.

     The extras are excellent but not much better that the Special Edition. If you have the Special Edition already then it would not make sense to shift up but those starting afresh won't be disappointed with the Blu-ray.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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