One of the more entertaining Q&A of each new season is the Amanda Tapping/Robin Dunne Q&A for Sanctuary [Syfy, Friday, 10/9C]. Both are smart funny and quite capable of taking a riff and going completely sideways with it. Sure, they can [and do] deliver the goods on what’s happening this season [musical episode!] in a more or less normal manner, but then there are those moments…
It has gotten to the point that some of the interviewers on any given call actually enable their tendency toward silliness – usually with great results, like this time out. So, without further ado, The Amanda Tapping/Robin Dunne Traveling Comedy Revue! [Seriously, these guys are funny!]
After more film and TV adaptations than any character other than Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes, Syfy has come up with a rather nifty fantasy version in Beyond Sherwood Forest [tonight, 9/8C]. Even before the opening credits, it’s apparent that this not your standard Robin Hood movie.
In the first sequence, we see a young Robert [Rowen Kahn] practicing with a bow and promising a young Marian [Anna Louise Sargeant] that he will, one day, become the finest archer in Sherwood. Meanwhile, the Sheriff of Nottingham and his two deputies are chasing a dragon, which one of the deputies, Malcolm [Julian Sands, Warlock]] is sure he’s wounded. The dragon kills the sheriff and when the deputies follow, they come upon a young woman, wounded by an arrow. Young Robert arrives just in time to see Malcolm strike his father down and ride off with the wounded woman.
Last season, Sanctuary [Syfy, Fridays, 10/9C] made the movie from webisodes to full blown television series – impressing a lot of people along the way. Its first season ended with a cliffhanger that was a real mindblower: the discovery that Helen Magnus’ daughter, Ashley, had been turned into a superweapon under the control [and through the scientific tinkering] of The Cabal. Worse, they’d taken five absolutely normal human beings and turned them into similar weapons.
Season Two begins pretty much where Season One left off – and the gloves are off!
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take part in a conference call Q&A session with Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne of Sanctuary [Syfy, Friday, 10/9C], the first regular series to shot predominantly in CG. The first season ended in a particularly lovely cliffhanger and I was among those who was allowed to screen the second season premiere – a two-part exercise in bold adventure and sacrifice – which made the Q&A session even more fun than usual [plus, Rapping and Dunne are genial and witty in and of themselves…].
Also taking part in the session were: Jamie Ruby [Media Blvd], Julia Diddy [Pop Culture Zoo], Michael Simpson [Cinema Spy], Troy Rogers [deadbolt.com], and Beth Ann Henderson [NiceGirlsTV.com].
With the announcement that Sanctuary [Sci-Fi, Fridays, 10/9C] has been renewed for a second season, perhaps those who those who don’t like to commit to a new series for fear it’ll be cancelled will now give TV’s first green screen series a chance. Two upcoming episodes are good examples of the kind of quirky quality that series is developing.
Quick refresher courser: Dr. Helen Magnus [Amanda Tapping], a one hundred fifty-seven-year old scientist has established Sanctuary – a home for “abnormals” [creatures benign and otherwise that are not of the perceived normalcy – mermaids, a missing link, children with unusual fear reflexes]. She provides homes – or cages if necessary – for these beings. She is aided by her daughter, Ashley [Emilie Ullerup], forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Will Zimmerman [Robin Dunne] and tech wizard, Henry Foss [Ryan Robins] .
In this week’s ep, The Five, Magnus’ lecture to an underground group in Rome, on abnormals, leads to a meeting with Nikola Tesla [Jonathon Young] who warns her of an impending assassination attempt. Tesla has a few secrets, himself – the only one I can telegraph is that he sleeps during the day.
The episode is fast paced and smart, but has its moments of emotional truth that support the action. We get to see Magnus’ ability to improvise – and the rest of her team show initiative in the way they aid her from their home base. The CG sets and effects are improving and now have much more weight than early on. Even Tapping’s wobbly English accent is much more consistent.
On December 5th, Drs. Magnus and Zimmerman take a mini-sub to investigate the slaughter of a clan of mer-people and find an abnormal unlike any they’ve ever seen. Requiem is a bottle show – a one-set episode – and as such, relies on tour de force acting by Tapping and Zimmerman. Both actors are called on to run through a gamut of emotions in a situation where an unseen menace seems to be influencing their behavior.
Based on these two episodes, Sanctuary is deserving of its renewal and an even larger audience.
The Sci Fi Channel’s new series, Sanctuary [Fridays, 9/8C] is adapted from the internet series of the same name. It revolves around Dr. Helen Magnus and her “sanctuary for all.”
Dr. Will Zimmerman [Robin Dunne] is a mess. A forensic psychologist, he’s lost his job with the FBI and now plies his trade with a police force that pays no attention to his theories and opinions. When he attempts to help the police investigate a triple homicide – including two police officers – he begins an adventure that will clear up mysteries that have tormented him since he was eight years old, even as he encounters new mysteries that will change the way he thinks, acts and maybe even dreams.
Who is Dr. Helen Magnus [Amanda Tapping]? Who is the blonde Valkyrie [Emilie Ullerup] on the motorcycle? And who is the tall, bald, sinister apparition [Christopher Heyerdahl] who can seemingly move faster than bullets? And what do they have to do with a scared ten-year old boy of Slavic ancestry? And what is Magnus’ semi-simian chauffeur, anyway?
Sanctuary’s two-hour premiere, Sanctuary For All, answers these questions and leads into a series that explores the concept that every creature from folklore and mythology is real. The physical Sanctuary is the place where Magnus and her team provide safety for those creatures who seek refuge, and confinement for those whose predatory natures threaten humanity.
Shot almost completely in CGI [only the cast and essential props are live action], Sanctuary has a unique look [think classic Universal horror mixed with urban cop show] and an equally unique feel. The premiere introduces the aforementioned characters plus a tall humanoid who might well be the so-called Missing Link. The ten-year old boy fits right in as a genetic mutation from Chechnya.
The script is solid, if not inspiring, and intriguing – especially since it gives us enough answers to make us wonder just how many more questions are out there waiting to be answered. The acting is, for the most part, adequate. Tapping’s English accent may wobble from time to time, but emotionally, she’s spot on. Dunne makes Zimmerman, who is almost a Daniel Jackson clone, seem fresh and different. There’s even a cameo from Battlestar Galactica alumnus Kandyse McClure as Zimmerman’s ex – just to emphasize how damaged he is.
The keyword here is potential. The premiere lays out an intriguing premise and gives us sufficient background to make us feel like we can relate that that specific world. It may be a bit stilted, but it manages to convey its concepts relatively clearly, and the cast of characters is an odd mix or near-immortal, exuberant youth, damaged professional and surly/quirky tech master. The mix of science and myth works, for the most part – and so does Sanctuary.