Warehouse 13: Season 1
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Warehouse 13: Season 1

One of the most memorable scenes in the first Indiana Jones movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ just happens to be the last shot of the film. Some nameless worker has a crate containing the all powerful divine ark up on a fork lift. The last the audience sees of this ancient artifact is being packed away in some corner of a vast warehouse that appears to extend as far as you can see. Most people just got up leaving the theater after a very satisfying cinematic experience but for some that famous ending just left a slew of unanswered questions. What happens to items like the ark tucked away in that warehouse and what other incredibly magical and inherently dangerous items were stashed away by the government in what was certainly a top secret location. It took a few years before a production crew took on the challenge but the SyFy cable network came up with an imaginative answer to these questions and a lot more with their latest summer series ‘Warehouse 13’. The series is concerned with a covert location where potentially dangerous devices and technology can be maintained in safety under the watchful eyes of a select group of government agents. The warehouse is playfully referred to as ‘America’s attic’ and much like the attic storage space of almost any home you never know what you’ll discover in the forgotten nooks. The series is part of the new trend in television, especially on cable to keep the viewers interested with original programming in the summer months in lieu of the traditional summer re-runs of the network’s regular programming slate. This is one on the better ideas adopted by consensus that the industry has seen in a very long time. It gives the networks a greater source of revenue in otherwise slow months and provides something new for the audience. The later has become even more of a factor with reruns largely supplanted by online availability.

The show is the creative offspring of Jane Espenson and D. Brent Mote. Espenson has considerable experience over at the SyFy network with executive production credits in the Ronald D. Moore universe of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and its spinoff, ‘Caprica’. Earlier in her career she also worked on ‘Dollhouse’, ‘Tru Calling’ and just for a change of pace ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and the Gilmore Girls. This may appear to be a large variety of genres to work on it is but there is a common thread binding all of these series together; strong, resourceful women in lead roles. Balancing this resume is that of D. Brent Mote. Most of his prior work has been with a couple of the network’s original Saturday night flicks and some episodes of ‘Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman’. Finally the writing went to written by ‘Farscape’ creator Rockne S. O'Bannon, What the constructed here is along the lines of another summer hit for the SyFy network, ‘Eureka’. In fact I understand that there are plans for a crossover episode establishing both shows in the same fictional universe. The series starts off with an origins movie length episode. A pair of agents for the Secret Service Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) are teamed up for what should have been a routine assignment protecting the President until the encounter a strange object managing to save the President’s life. Their dubious reward is being reassigned to ‘warehouse 13’ off in the middle of nowhere. The two agents are polar opposites with Pete a ‘by the seat of his pants’ type in constant conflict with Myka’s perchance for following rules that borders on the obsessive. The director of the covert department is Mrs. Irene Frederic (C.C.H. Pounder) who along with the onsite curator of the vast facility Dr. Arthur Nielsen (Saul Rubinek) has the regrettable task of keeping the mismatched pair on track. The mandate of the department is to retrieve these artifacts, catalogue and store them in the warehouse.

This kind of premise could easily get stuck in the ‘freak of the week’ format which was tried a while ago with ‘Friday the 13th: The Series. That production had a lot of potential but ultimately fell victim to predictability. In order to avoid this fate here the producers have infused the series with back stories for each of the main characters in order to provide more textured plot lines running throughout the series and hopefully the series. There were also a couple of mid-course alterations that greatly benefitted the flow of the series. First what a show like this typically lacks is a persistent villain. This was resolved with the introduction of the arch nemesis, former warehouse agent James MacPherson (Roger Rees) who has his own agenda and plans for the items much to his personal benefit. This opens up a pathway for a ticking clock to disaster particularly with artifacts of paranormal abilities. With Pete and Myka in a ‘Moonlighting’ interpersonal dynamic some youthful enthusiasm and unpredictability is afforded by the young technology wiz Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti). Hip, cute and adventurous this character helps to humanize Artie turning him more to a father image than hermit librarian. Claudia becomes his unwanted side kick, a plot device that allows stories to take place within the warehouse adding a nice change of pace. There is a steam punk and diesel punk feel to many of the items depicted in the series. Examples include a video phone Artie uses to communicate with the team while they are in the field. The main weapon the pair has at their disposal is a gun that fires an electric pulse which was designed by Nikola Tesla. The series is refreshingly entertaining and thankfully has been picked up for a second season.

Posted 06/08/2010

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