Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Warehouse 13 Premiere Review

SyFy channel is not known for the quality of its original programming (Sharktopus anyone?) which, believe it or not, has carved them out a nice little niche. Their movies, residing firmly in the B category, are instantly recognizable. Even ones with a cool premise, such as getting Felicia Day to be a werewolf hunter, come off as shoddy, rushed, and written by high school freshman. Still, it seems that there's an unabashed market for cheesefests like Dinoshark, and SyFy has created a winning formula by sticking to the bottom half of the old double feature.
Their original TV shows, however, are rather better. That is to say, not completely comparable to prime time fare or bigger cable network procedurals, but definitely better. Today I take a look at the premieres of my personal favorite, Warehouse 13, and later, the brand new show Alphas. Welcome to SyFy day! Let's get started.

I started watching this show when it began two years ago because of the Creator credit given to Jane Espenson (who is enjoying much fame currently, but will always be first and foremost known as one of the Buffy writers) as well as the premise. Two secret service agents, Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) are drafted into the clandestine world of the Warehouse, where dangerous artifacts throughout history are tracked down, captured, and stored. These artifacts can cause untold damage, physical and otherwise (such as possession) hence the government's mission to hide them from the public.

While Espenson didn't remain an actual part of the show for very long, the allure of interesting history was strong. A history buff myself, fictional stories adapting well-known fact always appealed to me, especially when famous characters would turn up in the present and the idea of what they would say. In addition to that I already knew and enjoyed Joanne Kelly from her season on Slings & Arrows (now there's an unbelievably good show) and Eddie McClintock is that guy you've seen in something before but can't quite remember, plus he's very handsome.

The show is definitely cheesy. The history, for one thing, isn't that good. With a particular mission each episode, it's more like we get one stream of exposition that the writers probably got off wikipedia. I mean, this is no Kate Beaton. But while it's primary focus is entertainment, it embraces the kind of excitement that comes from intellectual stimulation, most particularly in Myka (an insanely well-read perfectionist with a great memory,) Artie (the erstwhile leader and veteran who knows the Warehouse inside and out,) and eventually Claudia (the young, brilliant ingenue who wants to be the next Artie.)

At the end of last season, HG Wells (played by the lady who was the super crazy Lila in Dexter--don't ask why HG Wells is a lady) tried to destroy the world. While she was stopped, Myka blamed herself for continually giving Wells a 2nd chance and thus handing her the opportunity for global destruction. Convinced she's a liability she quits. When this season opens, we see that Artie and Claudia are accompanying Pete out in the field, and Pete is not his usual heavy-handed, lady-loving, carefree self. He clearly misses Myka something fierce, as evidenced by his adverse reaction to the new partner recruited by Mrs. Frederick (CCH Pounder in an underused but enjoyable role.)

The new guy is Steven Jinks, played by Aaron Ashmore (twin of Shawn and best known for being Jimmy Olsen in Smallville and Troy Vandergraf in Veronica Mars) with the ability to look someone in the eye and always know when they're lying. When Jinks and Pete get deep into their investigation of Shakespeare's Lost Folio, cursed by an actor to kill whomever touches it the same way the character on the page dies (ex: Gertrude's scene, you die of poison, Cleopatra's, snakebites, etc.) unless they can speak that character's last lines in time. Naturally, they're about to die when Myka shows up to save them with her awesome Shakespeare knowledge, and then they go on to save a bunch of bankers and neutralize the artifact, though the shadowy enemy gets away.

The main accomplishment of the series return was to actually convince me, for half the show, that it was possible Joanne Kelly was leaving the show, as well as provoking some emotion. Generally that emotion is a grin at a bad joke, but in honesty the entire camaraderie of the show is based on the deep, loving friendship between Myka and Pete, so seeing them reuniting and bickering and finally being silent was a natural, skillfully done portrayal of the realities of partnership. In the end it seems Ashmore is sticking around as well, because if it's one thing Warehouse 13 loves, its more characters.

I fully intend to remain a fan of this show, rooting for some romance, revelling in the silliness, and hoping for some more drama and international travel.


  1. I'm with you almost 100% on this. I like this show a lot (though I am actually more a fan of Eureka, but my wife prefers Warehouse 13) and was definitely glad to see Myka back in the mix.

    Also, it's worth following Eddie McClintock on Twitter (@EddieMcClintock)as he does talk a lot about the show, and is definitely a genre guy.

  2. I love this show. I just started watching it after I learned Eureka got canceled. Even though there is a season left to air. It is fun, fast paced and does have great chemistry.