An online sci-fi “Sanctuary”


I just watched the first episode of Sanctuary, which claims to be “the first broadcast-caliber online sci-fi series.” The trailer (which is after the cut) promises a lot: girls with guns, Xena-rific fighting, vampiric lovelies, lush visuals and all kinds of scary creatures. So I had to give it a try.

The story begins in London’s Whitechapel district in 1888 (yep, that means Jack the Ripper) and then moves to the present day in fictional Old City. Soon we’re introduced to a child with some sort of evil superpower, a delusional guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping of Stargate SG-1 fame).

Tapping in Stargate SG-1

Tapping is almost unrecognizable in Sanctuary, though:

Tapping in Sanctuary opening, set in 1888

Tapping in Sanctuary episode 1

Sanctuary almost delivers. The pacing is good, and the slick production values help you tolerate the occasionally clunky line. And the web interface is very game-like — actually, that’s the problem. Ultimately, it feels like a collection of scenes you’d see while playing a video game, only you never get to play. I wanted to click coffeetables and walls in order to find hidden things, or grab a controller and start shooting at baddies.

Naturally, there’s already a fan site (, and the buzz is building on various geeky sites. But I’m not sure about the idea of a "web-only" series in general. Is Sanctuary ahead of its time, or am I behind the times? Actually, I’m pretty sure this has been tried before, though possibly not in a “broadcast-caliber” way (whatever that means).

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