The SyFy channel completed its name change this week and yet, even though they seem to have gone “Poochie” with their network’s branding, they haven’t abandoned geek programming entirely. Along with the name change came the premiere of their latest original series Warehouse 13. They’re looking for another genre programming hit here, with Stargate aging and undergoing changes and Battlestar Galactica drifting off the air. This is just the first in a long series of new ideas on the channel, and surprisingly it’s unlikely to be the worst.
Warehouse 13 feels a lot like Eureka, one of SyFy’s few successful returning series. It has that same sense of restrained whimsy, it has a sense of humor, it seems to know what it is and goes about doing it anyway. That Eureka feel is melded with something akin to the X-Files as two Secret Service agents are put to work investigating the weird and possibly dangerous of the world. The twist here is that they’re more artifact hunters than alien finders.
In the two-hour season premiere, Agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering are ordered to a remote location in the desert where, they find a massive and mysterious warehouse. It’s manned by Artie, a man with nearly as many secrets as the treasure trove he protects. Inside Artie’s warehouse are the secrets of America, miles and miles of boxes and shelves stocked with things beyond man’s comprehension. They’re stored here, until we finally get around to comprehending them.
Pete and Myka are put to work for Artie. He sits on the warehouse while they’re sent out to collect even more oddities for safe storage on “Warehouse 13’s” shelves. Their first mission involves a lost comb of Lucretia Borgia which, when worn turns the wearer into some sort of raving, mind-controlling loon. It’s the first episode and in the long run, what they have to hunt is less important than how they go about it.
The script is a little stiff and most of the ancillary characters seem a little too familiar, but Saul Rubinek is brilliant as Artie, a character that seems as if it were written for the great Wallace Shawn but makes due with him instead. Eddie McClintock is adequate as Lattimer, he seems almost like a clone of Jack Carter from Eureka except since he’s a copy all the lettering never quite stands out as clearly. Joanne Kelly may actually have something as Myka Bering, if they’ll ever let her quit pretending to be Scully to McClintock’s Mulder. She looks like Julia Roberts cross-polinated with Felicity, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Bottom line here is that is that Warehouse 13 may be worth sticking around with for another couple of episodes. There’s enough potential here that, a savvy bunch of writers might be able to build something worth watching. On the other hand, this is a low-budget show on SyFy and even at it’s best, there’s no way this is a new Battlestar Galactica in the making. If we’re lucky this will be a pleasant diversion. Either that, or it’ll be gone long before they air all twelve of the already finished episodes. Give it a couple more hours, let’s see what’s next.