Archive for TV-14

SciFi “Sanctuary”

Posted in action/adventure, fantasy, horror, reviews, sci-fi, suspense/thriller, television with tags , , , on October 27, 2008 by worldofmatmos

Sanctuary (SCIFI, Fridays 10/9C, TV-14)

The Fall schedule this year is full of new and interesting sci-fi, fantasy, and horror projects, and the premiere of the new series Sanctuary on the SciFi Channel has quickly become a part of the top ranks of the genre. The fascinating horror hybrid is a look into the otherworldly titular organization run by the mysterious Dr. Helen Magnus, who collects and studies that which has been all but forgotten in the human world. Cryptozoological monsters and other supernatural beings are “residents” at the Sanctuary for All.

The very well-produced series from creator Damian Kindler (Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Stargate: Atlantis) includes a variety of great effects work, ranging from the subtle (lots of green-screen composites that are seamless) to great make-up and other practical effects. The cast is well rounded and have good writing to guide them through the dark corners of the Sanctuary world. Amanda Tapping is Dr. Helen Magnus; she is revealed as the proprietor of the Sanctuary for All, where she protects the secrets of the world (and netherworld) with her daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), a headstrong ass-kicking young lady who stalks the creatures of the night and helps her mother with her research. At the center of the story is our main character Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), a forensic psychiatrist who has been searching for answers to a tragedy that had befallen him as a child, and whose secrets are revealed to him by Dr. Magnus when he crosses the threshold towards his newfound destiny. Dunne is likable in the role; his keen sense of perception is an asset to the team, and he is equal parts nerd and hero. Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) is the goofy yet brilliant tech expert at the Sanctuary, and provides the comic relief in the series. The rest of the cast is equally good, and the pilot sets up future relationships with them. Will must now divide his time between the world and the Sanctuary, and hopefully survive the team’s future encounters.

I look forward to reviewing this series, as it seems like a lot of fun and could go somewhere. However, I have only watched the pilot episode, but look for more on here soon.

 

On the “Fringe” of Prime-Time Television

Posted in action/adventure, reviews, sci-fi, suspense/thriller, television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2008 by worldofmatmos

FRINGE (FOX, Tuesdays 9/8C, TV-14)

Headlining Fox’s 2008 Fall schedule is Fringe, a sci-fi/thriller from masterminds J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, that is an intense thrill-ride full of suspense, intrigue, and action that is reminiscent of the original season of The X-Files.

The pilot introduces FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), who is recruited into a top-secret sector of the Department of Homeland Security that investigates rather unusual cases. When her partner (and lover) becomes a casualty of the case they are working, she seeks the help of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), a brilliant scientist whose past achievements have landed him in an asylum for 17 years. With a little blackmail, she enlists the help of Dr. Bishop’s estranged son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to get access to him. Peter is also a genius like his father, but has instead chose to lead quite a different life.

Now employed with the FBI, Walter and Peter help Agent Dunham and her team, which includes Security Director Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), Olivia’s good friend Agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and Agent Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) unravel these mysterious happenings. Also introduced is the huge mega-conglomerate called Massive Dynamics that remains shrouded in mystery, and is run by CEO Nina Sharpe (Blair Brown), who prompts some intrigue into these investigations with bits of information regarding “The Pattern”.

The series itself is currently up to Episode 6, and much like Abram’s last epic television outing Lost, each episode is a compelling stand-alone piece that also slowly unravels the secrets of a larger, more insidious tale. What exactly is Massive Dynamics, and what is its ultimate goal? What is “The Pattern”? What is in store for us next week?

The show is impressive on several levels. First, the writing is top-notch, and coming from Abrams, Orci, and Kurtzman, this is to be expected. The high production values (especially the visual effects) rival anything else being currently produced, and although each episode has an almost formulaic cat-and-mouse hunt in the team solving their bizarre cases, each episode is loaded with enough plot twists to keep us engaged to find out the overall story and character arcs.

The characers are also well-developed and are some of the more interesting in recent years. John Noble is particularly excellent as Walter, who is easily my favorite. He is full of quirks, and his lapses between moments of genius and madness are fantastic. He also offers the comic relief in this otherwise tense series. Joshua Jackson is also great as Peter, who never comes off as too cocky or brash for his own good; he is likeable in this role and seems as though his character would be someone you’d want to hang out with. Anna Torv is also good in her role as Olivia; she is a tough yet fragile woman whose emotions help to point her in the right direction when trying to solve a case. Lance Reddick is definitely the hard-ass boss as Broyles, with his no-nonsense, follow-the-orders, need-to-know-basis attitude, but manages to come across as the most trustworthy of characters. Kirk Acevedo is limited in his role as Charlie, he is relegated to the background, but is still a worthy screen presence, and Agent Farnsworth spends most of her time in Walter’s renovated lab in the basement at Harvard.

The series covers a range of interesting and cool ideas such as nanotechology, telekinesis, cryogenics, viral warfare, re-animation, time travel…you get the point. The science is believable fiction and its entertaining suspension-of-disbelief has not disappointed yet. Abrams and crew have another hit on their hands, one that I hope will continue strong over several future seasons.