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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Warehouse 13: Season One
Warehouse 13: Season One
Other // Unrated // June 29, 2010
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted June 24, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:
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 usually 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 too impressive.  Now their original movies are often CGI creatures attacking a stranded or lost hapless group, and their shows 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 the President of the United States when a strange Aztec idol takes over a museum worker, they get more than a pat on the back.  They're visited that evening by the mysterious Mrs. Frederic (CCH 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 been transferred 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, range from the fairly benign, like a plane that has to be chained down... it came from the Bermuda Triangle and the Triangle has been trying to pull it back ever since, 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) they're charged with tracking down artifacts and transporting them safely back to 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, go-with-your-gut-feeling 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 that's capable of knocking people out and the Farnsworth, a pocket-sized audio and video communications device, is pretty cool in a geeky sort of way, and the enormous size of the warehouse itself means that there are plenty of stories to 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 dislikes plot holes, this isn't the show for you.  In one episode for example, Pete has a very dangerous villain cornered, 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 while 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 this show is no exception.  Saul Rubinek (who has appeared in everything from Driving Miss Daisy to Stargate SG-1) really makes 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 by Allison Scagliotti.   Together the pair makes the 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 everything she says sound like she's complaining.  Eddie McClintock is also just okay in his role, and neither of them are really convincing as Secret Service agents.  They don't have too much chemistry on screen either, which is too bad since they're 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 chastising 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 one point) and in the penultimate episode in this set they're touted as the best 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 better as the season progresses.  There's an early plot about a hacker attacking the computer system in the warehouse that's quite mysterious, and later they encounter a rouge warehouse agent that's more 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. 

The DVD:

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 actions 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 the sound 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 said 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 pain.   
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 easy to tell that CGI is being used.  The computer work doesn't blend seamlessly with the rest of the image which is too 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 limited to 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 giving their thoughts on the show, as well as several featurettes.  Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe (11 minutes) is a typical behind-the-scenes look at the 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 of the episodes.  Most of these are just extended scenes that don't add much to the story.  Overall a nice set of bonuses.  
Final Thoughts:
This is a hard one to rate.  I enjoyed watching the show, but at the same time I realize that the huge plot holes and inconsistent characterization will bother a lot of viewers.  The show has a lot of potential however, and some as a comedic SF show it generally works.  It comes lightly recommended.
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