Review: Warehouse 13 1×1

Every show you've seen already. Again

Warehouse 13

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, SyFy

Let’s play a game: guess the TV series. I give you some clues, you have to guess the show.

Clue 1: A top-secret government organisation has a mission to capture strange artefacts

What do you reckon? Torchwood?

Okay. Clue 2: Two government agents – one intuitive male, one rational and methodical female – investigate the paranormal

Hmm. The X-Files?

Clue 3: A man and a woman, together with an older guy, have to store away dangerous supernatural objects to protect the world.

Friday The 13th: The Series?

No, in fact, all the clues were for the same show: Warehouse 13, SyFy’s new “‘The X-Files meets Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Moonlighting‘ meets Torchwood meets Friday The 13th meets Eureka meets The Dresden Files meets The Middleman” series.

Do I need to mention it’s a little bit derivative?

Plot
Two Secret Service agents find themselves abruptly transferred to a massive, top-secret storage facility in windswept South Dakota which houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government. The Warehouse’s caretaker Artie (Saul Rubinek) charges Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) with chasing down reports of supernatural and paranormal activity in search of new objects to cache at the Warehouse, as well as helping him to control the warehouse itself. CCH Pounder guest-stars as Artie’s boss Mrs. Federic, along with Allison Scagliotti as Claudia Donovan, a young, hip, brilliant techno-wiz.

The 13-episode series (including the two-hour pilot) is produced for SCI FI by Universal Cable Productions. It is executive produced by Jack Kenny (The Book of Daniel) who also serves as showrunner. David Simkins (Dresden Files) is executive producer; Jace Alexander (Burn Notice, Rescue Me) is co-executive producer and director of the pilot; and Stephen Surjik (Monk, Burn Notice) is producer/director of the series.

Is it any good?
It’s all right. It tries a bit. But no, it’s not very good.

I have never understood the rep Jane Espenson gets. Her seasons of Buffy were the worst; her episodes of Battlestar Galactica were the worst: why do people rave about her so much?

Here she is, creating Warehouse 13 with old sci-fi stalwart Rockne S O’Bannon (who did The Twilight Zone in the 80s), and it’s in not new or interesting in any way. QFS.

The show fits entirely into the cosy milieu of SyFy shows occupied by the likes of Eureka and The Dresden Files in which very slightly wacky, very slightly threatening things happen in a vaguely whimsical, episodic way, at the end of which everything is wrapped up nicely without anyone really getting hurt or without doing anything too deep or meaningful happening.

It’s basically lazy, by the book rubbish that you probably could have predicted in advance. Will the two antagonistic agents, transferred to Warehouse 13 against their wills, slowly become friends and decide they like working for the Warehouse after all? I wonder…

No, I don’t. Of course they do. Anyone want to predict that the vibes agent Latimer gets are going to be an important revelation further down the road? I’d put money on it.

The stars in-and-of themselves aren’t bad, with Joanne Kelly being marginally more interesting and talented than Eddie McClintock. Saul Rubinek and CCH Pounder are as good as always, even if they clearly are treating it like a holiday away from proper work.

But the plot, the dialogue, the action: they’re all so “been there, done that” and the show really, really drags.

I’m not predicting bright things for it, but you never know. And someone will probably rave about it because Jane Espenson wrote it. Here’s a sneak peak: it drags, too.




  • Sometimes comfortable rubbish isn’t such a bad thing. As for being derivative, I think several of your examples, like the X-Files pairing, were using archetypes that existed long before they came along. Most of the Westerns of the fifties were derivative, but could still be entertaining for what they brought to the genre. I have no raves for Ms. Espenson, but I did enjoy spending the hour yesterday morning watching it. And I think for all its being derivative, it may settle into its groove and find something new to bring to light as a show.
    Of course, I am in it for the Toobworld ramifications (and am working up a post about it now with all the shows it can connect to), and also for Saul Rubinek. Him, I’ll watch in just about anything.
    One other TV offering to compare it to: the series of “Librarian” movies with Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart, and Jane Curtin…..

  • MediumRob

    “I think several of your examples, like the X-Files pairing, were using archetypes that existed long before they came along.”
    The X-Files changed things in a moderately interesting way by having a male/female investigative partnership and making the woman the rational one. Ever since then, they’ve all been like that. It would almost be radical to flip the situation back again.
    “Most of the Westerns of the fifties were derivative, but could still be entertaining for what they brought to the genre.”
    See, I need something that’s more than visual chewing-gum. I simply become bored and restless and stop watching because my brain needs more stimulation. Maybe that’s odd of me, but I don’t watch TV to switch off.
    “And I think for all its being derivative, it may settle into its groove and find something new to bring to light as a show.”
    I hope so.
    “One other TV offering to compare it to: the series of “Librarian” movies with Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart, and Jane Curtin…..”
    We don’t get them over here (I don’t think: there’s probably entire channel on Sky – something like 112125528 – that only shows them now I think about it), otherwise I’d have probably brought them up.

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  • Ok, To address the previous comments…. Their right, It is a little bit like visual chewing gum. But to be honest, We all need a little gum every now and then, To round off the meal that is challenging entertainment. Sure it’s rather campy and the premise is old but it does try hard to bring something new to the table. Also, In it’s defense (being a self proclaimed audiophile), On three occasions they have played some excellent music. All I can say about the show is that it beat anything else in the same Tuesday time slot and this may sound shallow, Gotta love that eye candy. I could deal with it lasting as long as Eureka as long as it has Miss Scagliotti taking the reigns as the brilliant, spunky rebel with a rather tasteful wardrobe. Save the thinking for House M.D., Lost and possibly Flash Forward (Depending on how the first season fares)

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