Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TV Show Review: Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 is the first new show of the inexplicably newly-christened SyFy Channel, and it took two episodes for me to come up with an opinion on the show. I'm not sure whether I like it or not. Okay. I didn't say it was a good opinion. What's holding me up on coming to firm conclusion on "Warehouse 13" is that I'm trying to sort out how derivative it is of other shows. The first episode introduces us to Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly), Secret Service agents that come to the attention of a mysterious woman, Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) who is in charge of Warehouse 13-- "a massive, top-secret storage facility in windswept South Dakota that houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. Government,"-- who pulls them off of their assignment to protect the president so they can hunt down various supernatural artifacts that need to be stored in the Warehouse that is the foundation for the show. The problems with the show pretty much start right there. The thing with "Warehouse 13" is that it's been done before and I would argue that it's been done better. Back in 2004 Noah Wyle starred in the first of The Librarian movies in which he hunts down supernatural artifacts and stores them in the Library. Helping Wyle in the "Librarian" movies is Jane Curtain at her grumpy best and the ever-stammering Bob Newhart. Having watched, and enjoyed "The Librarian" movies, it's impossible not to see how "Warehouse 13" takes the plot of "The Librarian" and tweaks it just enough to try to make it something else. Additionally, "Warehouse 13" chooses to go the route of pairing up two good looking agents of different sexes in the hope of generating some sexual tension. This is certainly nothing new-- ever since Scully and Mulder, every TV show featuring government agents has been looking for the same magic. Right now you can flip through everything from Fringe, and Chuck to Bones to see some variation on this theme. Maybe that's not a bad thing, but as someone who grew up on shows like Starsky and Hutch (the TV show-- not the heinous movie of the same name) and Cagney & Lacey I miss the normal camaraderie of the old police shows in which you have partners of the same gender who simply do their jobs and watch their friend's back. Right from the start "Warehouse 13" had seemed destined to rub me the wrong way. It immediately struck me as derivative of "The Librarian." I automatically started comparing the characters of one show to the other and finding "Warehouse 13" wanting-- how on earth can Saul Rubinek (Artie Nielson) hope to compare to Bob Newhart? The first episode even finds the team looking for an relic that could come right out of "The Librarian," in this case, a comb infused with the spirit of Lucrezia Borgia. I watched two episodes and I'm still somewhat undecided. The show is a copycat in my opinion. I still don't understand why it would be plausible to pull two initially-unwilling Secret Service agents off of their assignment to protect the President so they can hunt down mythical artifacts-- which is clearly just a convenient plot device-- and there's really no attempt to make it seem logical. The guest stars even seem as if they're slumming. The second episode features Tricia Helfer in what is becoming her standard cast-iron-b**ch role in which she spends most of her time talking through her teeth-- though she does lighten up before the episode ends. So, with all the things I've listed against the show, how can I remain undecided? Two words, Eddie McClintock. I like McClintock's portrayal of Pete Lattimer. He's the one thing that make me give the show a chance to grow on me. McClintock seems like he's having fun and it shows. The character is occasionally off-the-wall and brings much needed levity to a show that doesn't quite seem to know what it is yet. While Kelly strives to be the stereotypically tough, analytical Federal agent and Rubinek goes for the curmudgeon award, McClintock embraces the character and simply has a good time. It's infectious. At this point I can't give the show a hearty, or even a half-hearted recommendation but I will give it chance to find its way. Everything about the show is going to have to lose the clich├ęd feel to have any hope of finding an audience-- and I hope it does. I'd like to see McClintock hang around for awhile, though, if I'm being honest, the odds aren't too good...

11 comments:

Anna said...

So, far of what I've seen... I'm liking it. It's better then reruns and reality tv. ;)

SQT said...

Anna, I'm glad you like it. My problem is that I spend too much time finding flaws rather than just enjoying it-- and I'm not sure if it's me or the show.

SQT said...

Oh, and ANYTHING is better than reality-tv. I'll pimp this show all day long if it drives one reality show off the air.

Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't watch it but it certainly looked derivitive as hell to me. They've got so many of these kind of shows on now.

WitchEmber said...

Did you ever see "Friday the 13th, the Series" back in the 80s (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092357/)? Having nothing to do with the movies, it was something of an X-Files/Reaper mash-up. A handsome pair of young paranormal investigators are tasked with the retrieval and storage of several artifacts that have escaped Hell and are causing untold mayhem.

It was actually pretty good for its time.

SQT said...

@Witch Ember

Interesting, I never knew that. This idea really goes back a ways.

Daelith said...

I'm still up in the air about this show. I will say I liked the second episode better than the first.

It would seem great minds really do think alike though. My husband and I both felt like this show was a mix of the X-Files, The Librarian and Friday the 13th series mentioned by WitchEmber.
I remember that show well and used to love it.

The Pea Picker said...

I'm not in love yet either. I have one reason for sticking with it - Jane Espenson. I love her. (She co-created). I'm going to keep watching a long time because she's attached. The only problem is I think she has an even bigger role on the new show Caprica coming up, so maybe she really isn't much of a part of this show. She did the pilot, and it was not great. Oh well. Post again in a few more episodes :) Sometimes it takes a show a while to get going.

ShadowFalcon said...

Haven't even heard of this over in the uk. Just watched the whole of Fringe and yes it an idea that we've seen before but I'm totally hooked. Walter is awesome

SQT said...

Shadowfalcon

I love Fringe. I was afraid at first that it would try to emulate X-Files too much, but it's managed to keep its individuality. It's much better than Warehouse 13 so far.

Karen said...

It's nothing new but I'm enjoying it so far. I'll take Warehouse 13 over The Sanctuary any day!