Saturday, 28 July 2012

Review: Sanctuary Season 1

Review: Sanctuary Season 1 (2008)

Sanctuary is one in a long line of supernatural TV shows, with a different creature focus each episode. Rather than hunting these abnormals however, a trained research team, led by Dr. Helen Magnus (Stargate's Amanda Tapping), capture creatures and offer them a refuge in 'The Sanctuary'. In the very first episode "Sanctuary for All" newcomer, police profiler Will Zimmerman gets a tour of the sanctuary and one of the first creatures he meets is the resident mermaid we later learn is nicknamed Sally. So far, so Hellboy... A female version of Abe anyone?

Sally has seaweed hair and a beautiful shimmering tail and lives in her own underwater environment - it's unclear the extent of her tank and indeed whether it is a tank or leads to open sea allowing her to come and go as she pleases. The first season offers very little mer content, despite mermaids being a feature of the opening credits:

The only thing we really learn is that merfolk are a peaceful race that live mainly in the Bermuda triangle. Oh and they have some level of telepathy. We learn absolutely nothing of Sally's history or how she came to be living at the sanctuary, something I'm crossing my fingers will be revealed in later seasons.

Other than the first double episode and the flash in the credits, the only other episode to feature mermaids is 1.9 "Requiem" - Sally sadly never makes an appearance, but we hear that she's received a distress call from her people and Helen & Will take a submarine to the Bermuda triangle to check it out.

When they arrive they find the grizzly remains of a merfolk massacre - bits of dead merfolk everywhere. They autopsy the torso and discover a parasite that causes the host to become violent and paranoid. Magnus gets infected and Will has to work out how to save them both, when all the parasite wants is to take the sub deeper and deeper...

Despite having hardly any actual mer content Requiem is an excellent episode and really chilling. It's also great to have another example to add to the list of mermaid horror - though here of course merfolk are the victims rather than the attackers. There's so much scope here for fan-fiction and back story - the outbreak from the mermaids POV. Or indeed the impact on the mercommunity. Magnus points out that about 100 died, which for such a small population is catastrophic.

Sanctuary is far from the best show in the supernatural field. However, it is entertaining enough and one of the few to have proper mermaid content. There isn't much in season 1, but I hope to see more in later seasons.

Verdict: 6/10

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