Sunday, January 2, 2011

Catching Up: Warehouse 13 & Haven

As new television episodes continue to be sparse, I feel it’s fitting to offer a short write-up on those shows that I abandoned in terms of weekly reviews for the site but kept up with throughout the season, at whatever pace. Beware spoilers aplenty.

These two Syfy shows premiered back in July, the second season for the former and the first for the latter, and I gave up reviewing them after one and three episodes, respectively. When it was still summer and there were few other programs on, I stayed with both shows pretty regularly. After that, however, it was hardly a priority, and I only just recently caught up with the last few episodes of each. These are two shows that I have found to be much more enjoyable when I’m not reviewing them, mostly because they’re so unpredictable each week and take on such a different form each week that one episode might be unrecognizable from the next. They’re actually quite similar, in that “Warehouse 13” is the response to the final shot of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with unstable artifacts each episode, and “Haven” is like a close-knit version of “The X-Files,” where unstable people are present in just one town each week. I wouldn’t argue that one is superior to the other, and I actually alternated between each show when I was wrapping up each of their seasons last week during some TV downtime.

What’s cool about “Warehouse 13” is that it has an almost infinite mythology, where every one of the artifacts has a long, secret past, and then there’s also the secret past of the warehouse itself. Seeing more of Mrs. Frederick and Benedict Valda has been helpful with that, and even if I’m not sure about the whole H.G. Wells arc (beware what having Jaime Murray on your show will do to it – see “Dexter” season two for further evidence of this), it is interesting to see the hints of a greater vision that this show occasionally offers. Pete and Myka really are a fun team, and it’s entertaining to see Claudia take on a more prominent role, especially in her interactions with Artie. The show seems to have completely forgotten about Lena, emphasizing her in the first few episodes and then just bringing her back for the finale, but it’s not a big deal since she’s not an overly memorable character. If I do end up watching it, I think I’ll enjoy season three.

Haven,” by contrast, is a much more contained show since it lives within its small Maine town bubble. The show got seriously weird at the very end of the season finale when Audrey basically announced that she thinks she is her mother. The sudden revelation about Nathan’s father and his subsequent death also came from out of nowhere, but I think it’s in the service of a greater mythology, and this town of Haven is merely the setting for that. What sets this show apart from others is the combination of fearlessness and cautiousness with which Audrey tackles each Troubled person, and seeing Nathan respond as well in a similar, albeit less interested and active manner. The most memorable episode for me was “As You Were,” where the gang was stranded at a hotel and their skin was being used as a host by a chameleon. This show, as well as “Warehouse 13,” isn’t afraid to put its main characters right in the face of danger, and Nathan shooting the fake Audrey was proof enough of that. It’s not a great show, by any means, but in the desert of summer and as an occasional show to catch up on, it does just fine.

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