Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pilot Review: Warehouse 13

Pilot Review: Warehouse 13 (Syfy)
Premiered July 7 at 9pm

Intrigued by my review? Watch the first episode in HD for free via the image menu on the left!

The first show to bear the new Syfy brand seems to fit perfectly into the network’s new idea of a niche audience. If you want to expand your imagination and explore the world of impossibility, watch “Warehouse 13.” If you want to expand your imagination and explore the world of impossibility, watch Syfy. What this means for the first show to run under this banner is that it’s going to attempt to be strange and weird, to harp on the fact that this show belongs to Syfy, but also that it’s emblematic of Syfy. Now what exactly is the show about? Well, that’s perfect, because it revolves around a massive warehouse in South Dakota of all places where tons (Dozens? Thousands? Millions?) of mysterious, supernaturally powerful objects are stored. Saul Rubinek (W.W. Beauchamp from “Unforgiven”) is the quirky caretaker, and CCH Pounder (Claudette from “The Shield”) is Mrs. Frederick, the director of the project. It’s a clear takeoff on both “Fringe” and “The X-Files,” and merging the two isn’t exactly wise, especially with this policy of no boundaries. Having an object be the subject of every episode should quickly become tiring, and the vat of purple goo they use to neutralize the supernatural power of the objects reminded me quite a bit of the DMV depository where the vessels go in “Reaper.” The show itself is more reminiscent of the creepier episodes of “The X-Files,” but the tone of the pilot was fairly goofy. That’s partially due to the lack of seriousness exuded by the Mulder of the show, Eddie McClintock (who was on a terrific cancelled ABC show called “Crumbs”). He just can’t keep a straight face, and the writers have given him a bizarre, distracting craving for cookies. It’s an amusing gimmick at first, but it seems like it will quickly become overbearing. The Scully of the series, played by Joanne Kelly (“Vanished”), is completely rigid in her stances and couldn’t really be interesting if she tried. The two of them paired up, however, works somewhat well, far better than anything else in the show. McClintock’s Pete has a cool ability to sense when something bad is going to happen, and that may be the greatest thing the show has going for it. The pilot makes it hard to judge the series because this is the introductory episode where the main characters are first acclimating themselves to their new job, but I’m not sure if I’ll keep watching. It’s simply too unbounded for me without any real reward. It’s like what I imagine “Eureka,” which I’ve never seen, is like, except without all the colorful characters; just a few wacky Secret Service agents and some bizarre, powerful objects.

What did you think? Post a comment if you saw the pilot!

How will it work as a series? I know that there are some fantastic guest stars lined up, like Tricia Helfer and Michael Hogan, so having a different case each episode certainly means the show has potential. Additionally, it’s possible that one episode could be substantially better than the rest, since some standalone “X-Files” installment were simply terrific. The focus on objects may keep the show from really achieving greatness, but it also could play out like a permanent kind of “National Treasure” search, and being able to easily dismiss a failed storyline is fine if the show has nothing tying it down to reality.
How long will it last? As I’ve stressed, this is Syfy’s baby, and I think it’s more of a question of how the network will do. It’s kept shows like “Eureka” and “Sanctuary” going for a while, though I can easily remember the quick demise of semi-popular efforts like “The Dresden Files” and “Painkiller Jane.” I think this show was well-promoted and should find a good audience, and season two should be just around the corner. This show, with its undefined parameters, could easily go on forever.

Pilot grade: C

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