When I hear the term "Syfy Original Production" and it's not
followed or proceeded by a title that has the word "Galactica" in it, I
cringe. I'm a big SF fan (enough of a
fan to hate the term sci-fi) but the channel's track record hasn't been
impressive. Now their original movies
are often CGI creatures attacking a stranded or lost hapless group, and
have been pretty mediocre. So I was
expecting the worst when I cracked open a copy of Warehouse 13 Season One. Surprisingly it turned out to be not too bad. Yeah, it has some flaws, but there's also a
lot of potential.
When two secret service agents, Pete Lattimer (Eddie
McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) end up saving the life of
President of the United States when a strange Aztec idol takes over a
worker, they get more than a pat on the back.
They're visited that evening by the mysterious Mrs. Frederic
Pounder) and ordered to appear at a remote location in South Dakota
the next day.
Arriving at the location, the pair discovers a huge, old
warehouse built into the side of a mountain and discovers that they've
to Warehouse 13, "America's
Attic". It's the place where objects
that are too dangerous to be loose in the world are stored and
cataloged. These pieces, called artifacts,
the fairly benign, like a plane that has to be chained down... it came
Bermuda Triangle and the Triangle has been trying to pull it back ever
to the down right dangerous, like the aforementioned Aztec idol. Lattimer and Bering have been transferred to
the Warehouse and under the watchful eye of Artie (Saul Rubinek)
charged with tracking down artifacts and transporting them safely back
Warehouse 13 where they can do no harm.
The problem is that Pete and Myka don't get along very
well. Pete's more of an impulsive,
type of guy and Myka is the studious agent who plans everything out
carefully. They frequently clash when on
assignments though they have an unspoken respect for each other.
The show has a lot going for it. The
cyberpunk technology that the Warehouse
agents use, including a Tesla, a gun that shoots an electrical charge
capable of knocking people out and the Farnsworth, a pocket-sized audio
video communications device, is pretty cool in a geeky sort of way, and
enormous size of the warehouse itself means that there are plenty of
tell. The program is a buddy/cop drama
in a lot of respects with a large dollop of creativity.
There are some kinks in the show unfortunately. One
of the problems is you have to suspend
your disbelief A LOT with this show. If
you're the type of person who wants characters to act rationally and
plot holes, this isn't the show for you.
In one episode for example, Pete has a very dangerous villain
with the Tesla aimed squarely at the criminal's chest.
The bad guy slowly reaches into his pocket,
brings out a pair of finger cymbals, and clacks them together, all
viewers are silently screaming "Shoot him!
He's a murderous scumbag who is going to use an object to escape! Shoot him you idiot!" But
no, Pete waits and gets KO'ed by the
sonic weapon. That sort of thing happens
a lot in the show.
The acting is generally excellent. CC
Pounder (The Shield) who only appears
occasionally and isn't in the credits always does a wonderful job and
is no exception. Saul Rubinek (who has
appeared in everything from Driving Miss Daisy to Stargate SG-1) really
the show as the workaholic Artie. His
mix of excitement and caution about every new artifact is amusing and
realistic. He gets an assistant part way
through the series named Claudia and played with infectious enthusiasm
Scagliotti. Together the pair makes
scenes that take place in the warehouse a lot of fun.
As for the leads, they do a good job but they're the weakest
parts of the show. Though
Joanne Kelly is gorgeous, especially
when she wrinkles her nose, she has a whiney voice that makes
says sound like she's complaining. Eddie
McClintock is also just okay in his role, and neither of them are
convincing as Secret Service agents. They
don't have too much chemistry on screen either, which is too bad since
in almost every shot.
Part of the problem with the two leads is that the direction
and writing are inconsistent. A lot of
Pete's scenes call for him to be the goofball and Myka is sometimes
him for that and other times joining in on the fun.
The writers need to get together a bit more
and plan out what's going to happen too.
In many of the episodes Pete and Myka mess up in some way (Mrs.
Richardson takes Artie to task for the string of non-ideal missions at
point) and in the penultimate episode in this set they're touted as the
agents the warehouse has had. Ever. They're never show to be more than marginally
competent, so it's hard to swallow that they're so elite.
Okay, enough griping.
The show is actually fun to watch from the beginning and it gets
as the season progresses. There's an
early plot about a hacker attacking the computer system in the
quite mysterious, and later they encounter a rouge warehouse agent
than a match for Pete, Myka and Artie put together.
If you don't pay attention to the small
details and just sit back, it's a fun show.
All twelve episodes that make up season one are contained on
three DVDs that come in a custom case with slipcase.
The show's DD 5.1 soundtrack is fine, are does an adequate
job in both the dialog heavy scenes and the more audio-intensive
sections. The full soundstage is used to
good effect, with some nice subtle background effects thrown to the
rears. In one scene a door bell rings and
comes from behind the viewers, which made me jump. I like stuff like
that. In the more sonically busy parts the
subwoofer gets a bit of work, and the room fills with sound. The bad news is that the dialog is sometimes
mixed a little low, and it's easy to miss comments that are mumbled or
under someone's breath. There were a
couple of times that I had to turn on the optional English subtitles to
understand what was said, but this happen rarely though it was still a
The anamorphic 1.78:1 image looks very good. Almost
too good. The lines are tight and crisp
and the level
of detail is very nice, but when an effect heavy scene pops up it's
tell that CGI is being used. The
computer work doesn't blend seamlessly with the rest of the image which
bad. Aside from that the colors look
fine and the blacks are nice. Digitally
there's a slight amount of aliasing in a few scenes, but it's mainly
the background and nothing to complain about.
The set has a good amount of extras, which is always
nice. The show comes with commentary
tracks to four episodes with various members of the cast and crew
thoughts on the show, as well as several featurettes.
Curiosity Shoppe (11 minutes) is a typical behind-the-scenes look
making of the show, Saul Searching (2
minutes) is a short interview with Saul Rubinek, and there's a gag reel (3 minutes) that has some bit
that you'll smile at but never quite laugh out loud.
The featurette that was the most fun to watch
was Artie-facts, where the casts
talks about their favorite artifacts from the show.
In addition there's a sneak preview to season
two (oddly placed on the second disc) as well as deleted scenes to many
episodes. Most of these are just
extended scenes that don't add much to the story. Overall
a nice set of bonuses.
This is a hard one to rate.
I enjoyed watching the show, but at the same time I realize that
huge plot holes and inconsistent characterization will bother a lot of
viewers. The show has a lot of potential
some as a comedic SF show it generally works.
It comes lightly recommended.