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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi show -- which began its life as a popular Web series -- assumes that monsters are very real and that they need to be tracked down and captured. That process often entails a fair bit of suspense and violence (often involving weapons and occasionally deadly), which could unsettle young viewers -- as could the sometimes-creepy monsters themselves. But on the whole, the series is on the tame side for older tweens and up: There's hardly anything in the way of sexual content, salty language, or drinking and drugs.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) is the kind of detective who can walk into a crime scene, take a quick look around, and tell the other investigators why their easy theory about who did it just doesn't make sense. The fact that his amazing powers of observation sometimes lead to seemingly impossible conclusions doesn't win this awkward odd duck any friends in the police department -- but it does make him an ideal fit in the SANCTUARY. Led by Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), this mysterious organization preserves a deep secret: Monsters are real, and someone needs to track them down and protect the world from creatures that most people would prefer to believe don't exist. These "abnormals," as they're called, include humans with a range of genetic mutations and unique abilities, mythical creatures, and a wide variety of dangerous beasts. Some seek refuge in the sanctuary, while others are confined there either for their own good or because they're too dangerous to be allowed to roam free. Magnus and her team serve as their caretakers, jailers, and hunters.
Is it any good?
The show combines a standard detective series with an X-Files-esque investigation into the paranormal -- along with a hint of 24, since the team must work secretly to save the world from dangerous monsters. There's a fair bit of violence, both when the beasts attack and when the Sanctuary team retaliates, using both lethal and non-lethal weapons. Dr. Magnus' daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), a martial arts expert who's comfortable with a variety of weapons, usually takes point on these missions.
Overall, Sanctuary is entertaining enough. It won't win prizes for originality, but it certainly offers sufficient diversion that viewers will want to learn more about the mysterious secrets that link Zimmerman and Dr. Magnus.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about monsters. Many films and TV shows feature various types of supernatural creatures, but this one makes a point of insisting that that they're real. Do other shows make it clearer that the beasts are fictional? Why do you think this series needs to assume that monsters walk among us? Do you believe in monsters? Also, what does this show have in common with other sci-fi shows and movies? How is it different?