Sanctuary: Season 4
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Sanctuary: Season 4

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Perhaps the most important purpose of science fiction is to get people thinking in directions different from what they normally consider. Much of the wonders that define our modern technological age began on the pages of sciences fiction where they undoubtedly inspired the people capable of turning fantastic ideas into reality. Another more covet but perhaps just as important contribution Sci-Fi provides is its ability to offer social commentary thinly veiled as fanciful entertainment. For example in the fifties numerous books and movies of the genre pertained to communism and the extreme reaction some took in response to its global expansion. Both sides of the issues were explored but in a venue that was incredibly entertaining. Over the last few years one television series has excelled in this time honored science fiction tradition, ‘Sanctuary’. This imaginative series hailing from North of our borders began as online webisodes before being afforded full series status on the SyFy Channel. The underlying message is acceptance for everyone especially those that are exceedingly different from most of humanity. In order to accomplish this, the show runners have constructed a brilliantly conceived world were ‘abnormals, individuals possessing unusual mutation, live among the so called normal humanity. In telling the story many historical figures and characters have been inserted unto the story hopefully inciting to do a little historical research. The series has received many accolades for being one of the greenest series on air. The make extensive use of ‘green screen effects’ rather than using building materials for temporary sets and eschew the use of paper by distributing memos and scripts electronically. They do more that talk about making a difference; they make every effort to do it. All this is nice but let’s face it the bottom line is how effective the show is at engaging the audience. Thankfully it has proven able to consistently reinvent itself maintaining a fresh appearance while keeping the core characters and their underlying premise. This s the most difficult aspect of longevity in a television series; baling new elements to stay fresh while retaining the aspects of the show that made it a hit in the first place. Thus far ‘Sanctuary’ has aptly managed to pull it off.

The central character of the series is Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), a noted medical doctor and researcher. A woman with these accomplishments is especially noteworthy considering she received her degree n the mid 19th century when medicine was not perceived as a proper endeavor for a young lady. Thanks to some circumstances elaborated on through the run of the show Dr, Magnus was born n 1850. Looking might good for a woman over 160 years old. She the administrator and co-founder of the Sanctuary network, a global incentive to render assistance to genetically different abnormals helping the benign ones and incarcerating the dangerous individuals. As the series began she recruited the assistance of Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), an imaginative forensic psychiatrist. The fourth season begins with the pair separated in time with Magnus back in 1889 tacking down an extremely dangerous former associate set on destroying the future. This leaves Will in the present as the Ad Hoc administrator of the Sanctuary network desperately trying to hold our world together. The man that Helen is pursuing is Adam Worth (Ian Tracey) who is afflicted with a Jekyll and Hyde-type personality disorder. He was an outsider who desired admittance to a powerful cabal that Helen was part of called ‘The Five’. He manipulated an uprising among a group of subterranean abnormal living in ‘The Hollow Earth’. With Magnus distracted, Worth completed his construction of a time portal using it to go back in time. After following him back Helen had to be careful to preserve the time line by avoiding crossing paths with her younger self.

Meanwhile in the present Will has his hands full. The seeds of contention that were planted in Hollow Earth by Worth have fermented into a full scale rebellion. The abnormals are intent on taking over the surface no longer content with remaining unseen by humanity. The move towards the surface emerging in alarmingly increasing numbers threatening the dominant position of normal humanity. This situation brings about a conflict between the government and crumbling Sanctuary network with a surprise return of one of the Five in an unexpected position of authority. Everything that has been carefully built over centuries is tumbling down as Will and Helen frantically try to hold things together.

Unfortunately this will be the final season of this series. The network has decided that it has been played out and it is best to go out now rather than after sinking into an entangled mess of story lines. It was starting to head in that direction with the underlying mythos becoming unmanageably entwined and convoluted. Growth of the back stories had begun to overshadow the forward momentum necessary to keep the character development on track. The result was slippage in the strength of the central narrative a divergence from the initial themes of acceptance. This final season was one of the darkest in the show indicating the cast and crew were already lamenting the loss of their project. At least the series went out with action, plot twists and what fans can consider a logical ending point. The underground rebellion as class war came across a bit too heavy handed but with a limited number of episodes there was no time possible to develop more finesse. In all the series will be missed as it fell to the SyFy channel’s latest round of house cleaning. It is a shame that ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Eureka’ get canceled while some no gene related supernatural shows survive.

Posted 07/13/12

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