What grants the right to live? Is it one’s humanity, or something else? This is a question explored by the new SciFi series Sanctuary, which follows a forensic psychiatrist named Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) as he is introduced to a world of monsters that humanity would rather ignore or destroy. Leading him down the rabbit hole is Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), a 157 year old exobiologist who runs a “sanctuary for all” that offers protection for such “abnormals”—you know, mermaids, reptile men, 10 year olds with wicked snakes growing out of their sides….
Yeah, it’s all a bit cheesy, not to mention overloaded with CGI, but the premise is interesting enough for a geek like me, and the acting is pretty good. Plus, it’s based on a wildly popular series of webisodes, so you gotta give them credit for
selling out seeking new avenues for original content. And I actually enjoyed the show, so there is that.
Besides the usual introductions—the misunderstood protagonist, the immortal doctor and her warrior-princess of a daughter, the naïve techy, the teleporting Jack the Ripper villain and, oh yeah, Big Foot (yes, Big Foot)—the premier raised some interesting questions about life and dignity. Faced with a bewildering array of evolutionary accidents and supernatural beings, Will has to decide whether he will let his own fear and revulsion prevent him from treating even such abnormals with decency and respect. This is particularly difficult for him once he faces the fact that his own mother was killed by just such a creature. In time, however, he discovers that many of these others are just as scared, loyal, thoughtful or selfless as any human, and when his own life is saved by one of these “abnormals,” he is forced to ask himself what really qualifies as a monster.
Perhaps the line between good and evil may not be as easy to see as we prefer. Perhaps it isn’t how human a person is that should matter. Perhaps even those society shuns deserve sanctuary and protection. And perhaps all of this might seem a bit more profound if the noble butler didn’t look like one of Geico’s cavemen. Ah well, I guess I’m still prejudiced after all….