"Sanctuary" stars Christopher Heyerhahl, left, Amanda Tapping, Emilie Ullrep and Robin Dunne.
By Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Farscape" and "Battlestar Galactica" must have been flukes. How else to explain the two quality shows among the dreck that usually comes out of Sci Fi Channel?
The network's latest, "Sanctuary" (9 p.m. Friday), is another disappointing entry. It's a lot like BBC America's "Torchwood," just without the wit and a charismatic lead actor.
The show isn't helped by a two-hour premiere that states and re-states its premise too many times.
While investigating a case involving a boy with a murderous tendril, police behavioral scientist Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne, "Manchester Prep") meets Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping, who also serves as executive producer), who introduces him to her sanctuary, a zoo in the basement of a mansion.
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Sci Fi Channel.
"The purpose of the Sanctuary is to find and help the unfortunate creatures of the world," she explains, showing off a variety of specimens in cases similar to those you'd see at a natural history museum. "Some need saving, others can't be allowed to roam free."
With help from Magnus' daughter, Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), they track down bizarre creatures, protecting them from the world and the world from them. There's also a bald baddie (Christopher Heyerdahl) with an infamous past -- and a connection to Helen -- who seems poised to menace them on a semi-regular basis.
Tapping a veteran of countless "Stargate" incarnations, affects an unremarkable British accent that suits this unremarkable series.
Sci Fi Channel boasts "Sanctuary" is the first prime-time series to be filmed extensively with virtual sets, which results in a mixed bag. Sometimes the computer-generated backgrounds are not obvious, other times the actors gaze into a vast space and appear not to be looking directly at whatever it is that causes them to react with gape-mouthed awe.