Sanctuary (1.06): Nubbins

Originally on PopSyndicate:sanctuary-poster

Sanctuary: An original web based show turned primetime. Stars Amanda Tapping as Helen Magnus, scientist studying the extreme and Robin Dunne as Zimmerman the psychologist who people say sees too much.

Nubbins was very reminiscent of the Star Trek episode about Tribbles. The similarities are not just in the fact that they are cute furry animals but also in the fact that they are vicious breeders found captured with a predator. Since it has been ages since seeing the tribbles, I do not recall whether temperature was a factor in the containment of the tribbles as was the case with the nubbins, but otherwise you could probably substitute one name for the other in either series. While the show has been doing a much better job of finding its niche, this episode felt quite a bit out of place. Characters have been gradually developed so far in the storyline, only to have the personalities cast away for the sake of this singular adventure. Everything that happened dealing with the nubbins was only done to draw out the thin plot, unfortunately this did not help the show at all and I apologize to anyone who saw this chapter first.

One of the underlying disappointments I have with this entry in the series is that it was promoted with the nubbins producing the effect of the team being overwhelmed with sexual tension. This was hinted at, lightly. Usually when this is stated in a promo, something happens. There is subtlety and then there is non-effective hinting which does not qualify as sexual tension.

Also along for the predictable nubbins ride is a young woman named Sophie who at the behest of her possibly-turned-into-definite abnormal grandfather contacted the Sanctuary folks for further investigation.  While this could have been the best part of the adventure, this too was drawn out and not eventful other than for her to say she felt the nubbins pain and that they disliked cold. If Will had been as perceptive as they are trying to portray him, then he would have noticed the temperature of the nubbins containment area in the very beginning, negating all the useless goings on throughout the rest of the episode.

It is likely a good assumption that this episode was written earlier than the episodes that it followed, this has a similar feeling of confusion of direction and indecision present in the webisodes that was translated into the first few televised tales. Having seen the other episodes this lack of good writing will likely not be an issue.

Sanctuary (1.05) : Kush

Originally on PopSyndicate:sanctuary-poster

Sanctuary: An original web based show turned primetime. Stars Amanda Tapping as Helen Magnus, scientist studying the extreme and Robin Dunne as Zimmerman the psychologist who people say sees too much.

This show was beginning to come into its own with its exploration of how the abnormals deal with the rest of society, when they decided to come up with the token “accident in the middle of nowhere” story. In this case it was a plane crash. We began the show with a flashback of John and Magnus which was fairly cute and Helen awakens in the wreckage of the accident. I’ll be honest with whoever reads this, I kept falling asleep trying to watch this episode both times I tried.  First thing Magnus does is phone home, but that leads to nothing since they need to be stranded for 44 minutes. The victims argue and do the we’re stuck thing. It gets somewhat interesting when a freshly escaped creature they were toting starts taking out the passengers that might as well have worn red shirts. When I say somewhat, I mean it.

For the most part it was pretty much a dime a dozen horror story until the aspect of the monster being able to alter the perceptions of the survivors was introduced. This development brought intrigue into the situation for a short while since the main characters are supposed to be prided on their intellect. The most painful part of the realization was the fact that after the “don’t split up” conversation, Will was convincingly tricked into the fake rescue sequence, and spent entirely too much time talking to his imaginary mother. It is understandable why they chose to have that scene in an effort to show Magnus detecting the monster in his Will disguise, but it was a bit of a stretch.  I was annoyed that they took out the weapons guy though. Maybe next week we won’t get a not as good rehash of a Doctor Who episode (this screamed “Midnight” -lite.)

Sanctuary (1.04): Folding Man

Originally on PopSyndicate:sanctuary-poster

Sanctuary: An original web based show turned primetime. Stars Amanda Tapping as Helen Magnus, scientist studying the extreme and Robin Dunne as Zimmerman the psychologist who people say sees too much.

Settling into a smoother format, this episode opens with a supposedly normal robbery. Clerk sets off the silent alarm and the criminals make a break for it. As one of the criminals seems trapped in a corner, he proceeds to make his skull collapse and is perceived to have squeezed through the pipe. Cut to the good folks at the Sanctuary, in the office, checking out the surveillance tapes.

It appears the theft of only gold from the store seems familiar to a case will worked on a few years prior with a similarly impossible escape. With a print scraped from the crime scene shown earlier, the investigation is under way to track down all those possibly involved or related. The closest they can get to the perp (Malcolm) is a man who is a drifter in a run down part of town. They question the man thinking that the perp is his son, since he lives in a community of other folding men.

It turns out that the drifter does have a son, but he is one of Malcolm’s co-conspirators. Part of the point of stealing the gold was to create an addictive drug which also happens to ease the pain of extreme folding. Ashley once again seeks information from an abnormal informant, who easily leads them to Malcolm ending in a short chase and capture.

Inside of the facility, Will questions Malcolm about his involvement with the crimes. Here a valiant attempt is made to paint the picture of Malcolm as the victim of the infamous Nomad, leader of the criminal folding men. The problem with this is the fact that the most likely audience for this show is full folks who already watch a large amount of television. With this in mind, the shows writers cut between Malcolm dictated flashbacks and the other characters.

The big problem is that the character painted as the most perceptive, misses pretty blatant hints about Malcolm’s real intentions. Malcolm, leads the team to a place where the drifter’s son may have been hiding. Instead of a warm greeting, they find all his belongings and his remains. The team, minus Will, heads over to intercept a possible delivery of the drug while Will continues to talk to Malcolm.

Magnus and the others find out the lead they had on the drugs was a ruse, just as Will asks Malcolm to lead him to the hideout. Unfortunately for Will it was a trap, its just too bad it wasn’t better acted. Of course Magnus thought ahead and placed a tracker on Will’s car, distracting the group of folding men long enough for Will to spill the beans on the drifter’s son’s death. One of the subordinates questions Malcolm (predictably revealed as the infamous Nomad) which prompts them to trade bullets. Magnus stops the drug shipment and sort of happy ending.

This episode may have been too early in the season. Filler episodes work much better in the middle of the line, then again I am not sure how many episodes have been greenlit. Unlike the previous episodes, this is the first one not from the web version of the show. It is better paced than the premiere and has a better feel for the characters. The parts of the program I didn’t buy into where the more routine ones, but that comes from tons of TV and movie screenings. It holds up pretty well regardless, and I can now say I do recommend giving this show a shot.

Sanctuary (1.03): Fata Morgana

Originally on PopSyndicate:themorrigan

An original web based show turned primetime. Stars Amanda Tapping as Helen Magnus, scientist studying the extreme and Robin Dunne as Zimmerman the psychologist who people say sees too much.

A much stronger showing than the somewhat convoluted premiere, the second episode of Sanctuary was much more coherent and the pacing was quite improved. In a similar fashion to the primary episode, the writers focused on reeling in the viewer with captivation action. Even though we were thrust right into a conflict, it was executed well and did a fine job of drawing in the audience.

This tale begins with the team investigating a crypt, and Zimmerman uncovering the bodies of 3 living women in stasis inside the coffins. The women were protected by creepy skeleton wearing creatures with enhanced physical abilities, aptly called Keepers. The team manages to salvage the women and transports them to the lab for study. Upon further investigation it appears that the women are either delusional or hundreds of years old

The teenage monster hunter and younger Magnus is sent to take out an invisible beastie while Helen and Zimmerman try to gain as much information about the sisters as possible, with the assignment to dig up intel on the women after she finishes the job. During the time Ashley (the daughter) is sent digging, Zimmerman, Magnus and the women uncover a great deal about their troubled past.

To show that our protagonist still has ties to humanity, we are subjected to a phone call he has with his still somewhat jealous ex-girlfriend. These vignettes are understandable since it is not so easy to leave a life behind regardless of the new job, but the scenes seem forced as there is no chemistry between Dunne and Kandyse McClure. She does a much better job on Battlestar Galactica.

The sisters find out there are a set of powerful, for lack of better description, witches who are under the rule of a power-snatching organization. They learn they have been the cause for turmoil the recurring nightmarish visions they have. They then proceed to flip out and wreak havoc on the systems in the facility, even causing Zimmerman physical harm.

As they unravel more information about the big bad secret society that was keeping the sisters on ice, Zimmerman spends more time offering them freedom from their situation. The glimmer of hope soon dims when the henchmen of the Cabal show up to retrieve the women. Ashley returns to the manor and aides with the defense of the facility while Zimmerman attempts to lead the women away to freedom.

Instead of fleeing, the sisters appear to stop the henchman from killing the team for “stealing” the women. After having tasted freedom, the sisters agree to leave with the Cabal, but only to ensure the safety of the people in the Sanctuary.

Once again I want to note that this episode worked much better and more artfully portrays the potential of the series. It seems less like the pointless rambling of the premiere and I look forward to the following episode.

Sanctuary For All (1.01&1.02)

Originally on PopSyndicate:sanctuary-poster

Sanctuary: An original web based show turned primetime. Stars Amanda Tapping as Helen Magnus, scientist studying the extreme and Robin Dunne as Zimmerman the psychologist who people say sees too much.

It was quite gracious of SyFy to pick up the web series Sanctuary and try to give it a home on their network. Unfortunately, they either only wanted people to watch the show live and not let them enjoy the ability to go back and watch it closer or they were unsure about the series because it took me four tries to watch the show. The first couple of times it aired, I was otherwise occupied and tried to use the glorious DVR to watch, and SyFy ruined that by having “signal issues”. To the detriment of the show, it only allowed me to see the first 20 minutes each time, the twenty minutes that are easiest to promptly forget. I want to apologize for taking soo long for this, but I literally just watched it. I am going to avoid making references to the web version since I did not get a chance to check them out prior to the show being picked up.

The show starts off somewhat like a twisted cop drama. A pan of the city over a bit of tension inducing music, followed by a couple of murders. Instead of bullets, its from a tentacle coming out of a small child. The we cut to forensic psychologist Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) who is in a restaurant making detailed deductions about the dish he was just served, he is paged and heads to the scene. Upon arriving he scopes out the crime scene and butts heads with straight shooter cop Kavanaugh (Kavan Smith) over the existence of the boy at the crime scene. As if he is in a videogame, Zimmerman’s enhanced perception is shown as if the image is highlighted in a glow. He sees the boy outside but is halted in his chase by Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), who hits him with a car.

While out he has a dream about what appears to be a giant bug attacking him as a child. Kavanaugh had made comments about Zimmerman being demoted from a government agency due to the oddness of his theories, which keeps being repeated throughout the episode as very thin foreshadowing. A witness identifies a “shooter” falsely which drives Zimmerman to question everything about the case and walk out into the rain where Magnus is waiting. In an alley an ominous bald man appears in thin air named John (Christopher Heyerdahl) who proceeds to murder a hooker after asking her for the location of Sanctuary.

Next the viewer is treated to more backstory for Zimmerman, an interlude between his cute but condescending ex-girlfriend who came to make sure he was not one of the victims and pick up the rest of her belongings. More token protagonist with nothing to lose fare, prompting him to contact Magnus and check out the Sanctuary. Ominous John tries to enter the premises with his neat little teleportation-esque power and is stopped by an electromagnetic field. He is seen to cough in what appears to be an attempt to portray him as terminally ill.

Cut back to the inside of the facility and we see Magnus giving Zimmerman an overly long tour. The effects are pretty good for the budget, but the viewer who chose to watch SyFy on a Friday night already has a good idea what “surprises” Zimmerman has in store. We also get to meet a couple of scary looking creatures with hearts of gold who help out the protagonist later. One of the recurring issues with this premiere (and less likely with the web version due to time constraints) is that SyFy has a big issue with crappy filler. This premiere should have been and hour or less. The four webisodes it was based on would have made it about an hour tops.

Normally two hour premieres are a great way to suck the viewer in, but it was somewhat taxing even without the technical difficulties to make it through the first hour. It takes about that long to introduce the daughter of Magnus (Emilie Ullerup) and Foss (Ryan Robbins), the characters that do a much better job of keeping you interested. Its one thing to enjoy Tapping in her time at Stargate, its another to wade through the accent she has on this program. At this point I’ll skip ahead a bit, they catch the boy and only Zimmerman is able to tame the beast. Evil John tricks the daughter into taking him to the facility then fools Foss and has him turn off the EM field off so he had teleport around.

After he grabs Magnus’s daughter and puts her in danger we get more Magnus backstory, she was knocked up by John the Ripper and is really old due to something in her blood. John uses the daughter to persuade her to cure him, but she tricks him and he appears to dissipate. Zimmerman and scary character with a heart of gold save the girl. More backstory reveals Magnus saved him from the monster as a boy, and Magnus is 157. While it has its quirks, the follow up episodes may not have the pacing issues and will probably work much better. I have not been able to catch a promo for the new episode, but after an up and down premiere, I still have hope that the series has gotten the hard part out of the way and will improve.

New Light

You are forced to learn a lot about yourself when there is no TV, internet, or video games to distract you. Faced with nothing but natural light, you find out quickly if you have natural survival skills. Some people master the outdoors with no problem, others stumble without their luxuries.

As much time as I spend on the internet, it was evident fairly quickly that if all hell breaks loose in the world I could get along for a fair bit of time. I’m kind of proud of myself for not losing my mind or just sleeping through the week. My neighbors were not faring as well.

I’m just glad that when our robot overlords take over, I might have a chance at hiding out in the woods.

EAS: Early Adopter Syndrome

Most of the people that come across this blog would test positive with Early Adopter Syndrome. (This little hut is probably only known to the people in Linkville and the followers on Friendfeed, its not LAX). Most people try to whittle down logins and passwords down to a handful, yet we keep signing our information away to tons of fly by night establishments that we hope have good intentions.

We deprive ourselves of sleep for days on end, just to catch that last bit of news about something that will not matter to us one way or the other next week. Is the taste of truly breaking in a service that delicious? Why is it that we rush to test things that are obviously still broken, and have to scramble for solutions to a product that did not matter mere moments before?

Continue reading “EAS: Early Adopter Syndrome”