Sanctuary-Season 2 (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-Multiple
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Multiple
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 588:14 (Case: 585)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 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 Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This show was first released on DVD last year and I reviewed it here. Now in 2010, the second season is being released on DVD and is the subject of this review. Both seasons are also being released on Blu-ray by Beyond Home Entertainment. Our reviews of the Season 1 Special Edition DVD and Season 1 Blu-ray can be found here and here. Our review of Season 2 on Blu-ray will be available soon.

    The basic premise of the show is that the world is full of 'abnormals' who need to be protected from humanity and a place has been set up to house and protect them, called The Sanctuary, hence the name of the show, Sanctuary. The owner and leader of this 'private research facility' (as they describe themselves to anyone nosy) is Dr Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping who was Sam Carter from the Stargate universe). She is 157 years old but looks as young as Amanda Tapping (40ish) and is dedicated to her work of protecting and studying these abnormals. The abnormals are not aliens but rather are humans with special powers (sort of like X-Men without the flashy costumes) or bigger, uglier animals or insects (more like the stuff coming through the anomalies in Primeval.). They tend to quite often be things from mythology. Magnus is very enigmatic and not necessarily completely moral. This makes her an interesting and hard to read character rather than the usual obvious goodie. Explaining how Magnus comes to be 157 years old and in this line of work would give away too much of what happens over the course of these episodes. It is great to see Amanda Tapping playing a quite different character to Sam Carter. There is no particular setting the show is set in although it is obviously the US. Some episodes occur in other parts of the world such as India and on an Oil Rig. The Sanctuary also has braches all over the world for example in London & New Delhi. They have an ongoing enemy in a group known as 'The Cabal' who want to exploit abnormals for their own benefit.

    The other recurring characters are:

    From a production quality perspective, this show relies a lot on CGI with most of the scenes being acted on green screen with the background filled in later by computer. Generally speaking these are significantly better in Season 2 than Season 1. The overall feel of the production design is very gothic suiting the newly dark haired Amanda Tapping and her tougher, darker character (compared to Sam Carter). In terms of the cinematography, a new element this season is lots of use of split screen. It is overused here and becomes annoying. The music has also changed for this season with a new composer Andrew Lockington. This is a definite improvement and the music works very well.

    To my mind, the writing and stories have dropped in quality this season compared to the second half of Season 1 although there are highlights like the first two episodes, which are great. The third episode drags really badly. Others are a mixed bag and to my mind two ingredients are missing which were present last year. Firstly, the episodes are mostly free-standing, lacking the multiple episode character development and running story lines of Season 1. Secondly, some of the more interesting characters like John Druitt and Nicolai Tesla only appear every now and again.

    This four disc set contains 13 episodes. The show was created by Damian Kindler, who was a writer/producer on the Stargate shows. Martin Wood, another Stargate alumni, directs most of the episodes. Amanda Tapping is also one of the producers and directs one of the episodes.

    In summary this is a good, without being great, entry into what is becoming a long line of science fiction shows being made in Vancouver.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good, quite an improvement on Season 1.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which I would guess is the original aspect ratio or close to it. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp quite a lot better than Series 1. There was a little motion blur and a few MPEG artefacts. Shadow detail was quite good.

    The colour was well rendered but not vibrant which is a reflection of the dark colour scheme.

    The only artefact I noticed was some minor pixelization during Episode 8.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which were a little small and featured US spellings. A step up from Season 1 which had no subtitles.

    The layer changes are not noticeable.

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


    The audio quality is better than Season 1 but not significantly better.

    This DVDs contain three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack encoded at a very measly 224 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s plus commentaries with the same technical specification. I was very disappointed to see that the 5.1 track was only encoded at 224Kb/s which I have never seen before. It explains why the surround track is quite average in terms of surround and subwoofer usage.

    Dialogue was quite clear and easy to understand throughout, although some lines of dialogue were hard to understand. The subtitles were useful.

    The music by Andrew Lockington is a step up from Season 1 and sounds quite good on this transfer.

    The surround speakers added mild atmosphere.

    The subwoofer was used for music and some thuds.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Lots of extras are included.


    The menu features an introduction, motion and music. Scene selection is available.


    The discs are packaged in a four disc plastic box (the size of a normal amaray) which is housed in a cardboard slipcover featuring raised pictures.


    Commentaries are available for all episodes featuring a number of different people involved in the production (see detail below). The ones featuring Wood, Tapping & Kindler tend to be silly and somewhat self-congratulatory but also contain worthwhile information about the show, locations, green screen work and much more. The others tend to be more informative and less silly. 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. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  4. Chris Gauthier (Guest Star), Lee Wilson (SFX) and Martin Wood
  5. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  6. Ryan Robbins (Actor), Steve Alison & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  7. Martin Wood (Director), Gordon Rempel (Editor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  8. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor) & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  9. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor), Michael Shanks & Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer)
  10. Damian Kindler (Creator/Writer), Steve Adelson & Jonathan Young (Actor)
  11. Martin Wood (Director), Christopher Heyerdahl (Actor)
  12. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor)
  13. Martin Wood (Director), Amanda Tapping (Actor)

Disc 4

International Sanctuary (3:24) 

    Short featurette on the second season expanding to include the international offices and some foreign locations.

Amanda Tapping directs 'Veritas' (3:42) 

    A featurette on Amanda Tapping being the director of one episode and everyone saying how good she was at it.

Next Tuesday - Anatomy of an Episode (16:45) 

    More substantial featurette about how the episode was conceived, writing, problems with the shooting and difficulties for the cast. Not bad.

Sanctuary Visual Effects (8:56) 

    Featurette about the improved visual effects in Season 2 including better backgrounds and more creatures. Interesting.

Sanctuary for Kids (1:12) 

    Promo for charity established by Sanctuary cast & crew.

Sanctuary Goes to Comic Con (8:07) 

    Cast & crew visit conference in San Diego. Mostly a panel discussion. Not bad.

Will Vision - Behind the Scenes & Onset (13:20) 

    Video diary by Robin Dunne showing his makeup, fooling around and shooting.

Will Vision - Sanctuary goes to Japan (10:49) 

    Video diary by Robin Dunne showing the team's 76 hour trip to Japan covering the flight and shooting they did there.

Dancing in Mumbai (12:36) 

    Featurette on recreating a Mumbai slum in the car park and trying to teach Robin Dunne to dance, Bollywood style.

Bloopers & Outtakes (5:07) 

    More silly than funny but OK.

Behind the Scenes Slideshow (4:11) 

    Stills from behind the scenes, no music.



R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 release of this show is the same as this local release. Draw.


    A interesting and good quality entrant to the Science Fiction television genre which peaked towards the end of Season 1 and the start of Season 2.

    The video quality is very good. The audio quality is better than Season 1.

    A large selection of extras is included.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, July 26, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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