The Sentinel: The Complete First Season (review)

The early days of the “alternative” broadcast networks saw a lot of scrambling around for programming, and some settling for stuff that wasn’t always terribly good. Like The Sentinel, which debuted in UPN’s second year, 1996, and is remarkable only for how stolidly unremarkable it is, as if it can’t be bothered to be exciting and is content to be merely competent. Who needs Chunky Monkey when plain vanilla is perfectly acceptable? Detective James Ellison (Richard Burgi: In Her Shoes) of the Cascade, Washington, police force suddenly finds himself with superheightened sensory perception, something to do with being stranded in the jungles of Peru as a special-ops solider years earlier, or so says his putative partner, anthropology student Blair Sandburg (Garett Maggart), who claims that Ellison has somehow become a Sentinel, just like in South American mythology, destined to protect his village from danger. That sounds like it has potential, but these 10 episodes, the entire first season, just kinda chug along on dramatic fumes, even when an element that should be thrilling — stolen Ebola virus! — gets tossed in. Mostly, it’s all Ellison and Sanburg being “inexplicably drawn” to beautiful suspects and falling for the “wrong women,” which proves that even superpowered crime fighters and their sidekicks are subject to the mundane Laws of Fiction Clichés. The set features the original full-screen image and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound, and is bare of any extras.

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