Tuesday, July 07, 2009

'Warehouse 13' review - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review "Warehouse 13," the first series to debut under Sci Fi Channel's dopey new name of Syfy. (And a good chunk of the column is devoted to making fun of that name some more.)

Because I'm still getting caught up from my time on jury duty, no time to do a separate spoiler post for the pilot, so feel free to discuss it here after it airs tonight.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am ambivalent. Just from the premise, and my experience with this network (whatever it is now called), this program seems like it will become one of those dopey series where there is no sense continuity and the characters behave with no sense of professionalism. Sigh.

dyb said...

"a wallet of Harry Houdini's that allows the owner to commune with the dead"? Did the producers not know Houdini was a skeptic and a spiritualism-buster? Maybe next week they'll have a deathray designed by Gandhi.

All the same I'm checking this out, even if "She's by the book, he's a maverick" seems a little played out at this point. I tried to think of the last time those gender roles were reversed. My first thought was Middleman. Sigh.

Alan Sepinwall said...

DYB, perhaps the wallet was the proof he'd been offering money for all those years, only it didn't get much publicity because it wound up in the Warehouse?

And, just to reiterate a point from the review: the second episode (with Tricia Helfer) is quite a bit better, story-wise, than the pilot.

marenamoo said...

I really enjoy Sycience Fyiction/Fyantasy types of shows so I have been looking forward to Warehouse 13 since they announced it. I have watched the previews and character introductions on Hulu and have to say that premise seems ripped from Indiana Jones and the characters are straight from Bones (where Eddie McClintock had a guest arc). This is not a bad thing as most tv is derivative but Booth/Brennan was screaming in my head.

J said...

Maybe next week they'll have a deathray designed by Gandhi.

And I would watch that show!

As for the name, I like to think that the corporate owners were sitting around a table wondering, "Hey, how could we make Harlan Ellison even crankier?"

JAM said...

I'm in the "siff-ee" camp, myself. The name change seems pretty bone-headed to me, but I'm certainly not a marketing genius, so maybe they're onto something. It's certainly being talked about, so I guess there's that...

Eldritch said...

... the second episode (with Tricia Helfer) is quite a bit better, story-wise....

Actors who do science fiction shows get stereotyped as just scifi actors pretty quickly, don't they?

I know Ms. Helfer has done "Burn Notice" and probably other things too, but it seems as though once an actor has done something science fictiony, the likelihood of seeing that actor in some other science fiction production goes up about 400%.

I saw a graphic for StarGate and quickly spotted the "Doctor" from "Star Trek Voyager" and Kaylee from "Firefly." That can't just be a coincidence.

I just recently saw the bio film of George Reeves, "Hollywoodland," and it makes me feel sorry for Helfer and others actors.

Anna said...

"She's by the book, he's a maverick" seems a little played out at this point. I tried to think of the last time those gender roles were reversed. My first thought was Middleman. Sigh.

SERIOUSLY.


As far as Tricia Helfer goes, she's also done Supernatural and Chuck, so I guess you could maybe say she's been typecast in both science fiction and spy shows now. But I actually wouldn't think that would be the case, because, not only is she ridiculously hot, she's quite an amazing actress. She should be getting offers from all over the place.

Hatfield said...

Gramatically dubious!

Sepinwall wins.

PS I'm going to see The Hold Steady in LA tonight, but ever since your tweet to Swisher he's all that comes to mind whenever I hear "Constructive Summer." I will do my best to block it out tonight

Kensington said...

Alan, do I detect the slightest bit of affection in your review for Eureka? Is this a new development for you? It's a fairly slight series, yes, but so generally good-natured I've never been able to resist it. If Warehouse 13 can emulate that, I'll give it my viewership.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Eureka's okay, though I think I like the idea of it more than the show itself. I just don't feel a connection to any of the characters on that show, whereas I grew to like McClintock and Rubinek pretty quickly here.

BigTed said...

The problem I have with the pilot is that it's slow -- no way did it need to be two hours. Given how we really have seen all of this stuff before, we really didn't need so much explanation and back story.

Also, while I can understand the value in hiding artifacts with mysterious powers (the way they do in "Torchwood"), what's the idea of stowing away inventions by scientists like Farnsworth or Tesla? That's not protecting mankind, it's impeding scientific progress. (In fact, the whole idea of just warehousing this stuff rather than studying it would seem to be the work of Luddites, something you wouldn't expect Sy Fy -- er, sci-fi -- fans would approve of.)

greentara said...

It's goofy, yes. But I like the premise, and the cool steampunk contraptions sold me. Not sure it's appointment tv, but I'll watch if it's on.

DeeTV said...

It's definitely a rip-off of Bones and X-Files, it feels like a combination of both of those shows to me. I happen to like both of those shows, so I'm going to give it a few weeks before I decide how I feel about this one.

I think trying to copy The X-files may backfire, in my opinion those are pretty big shoes to try to fill.

As for coping Bones, IMO the David Boreanaz is a lot more charismatic than Eddie McClintok. And I wasn't crazy about Joann Kelly at all.

So this show is going to need something more to differentiate itself as more than just a poor Bones/X-Files imitation.

Anonymous said...

Dear God, this is an hour and a half of my life that I will never get back. SO AWFUL!

Ingrid said...

I hope it gets better, because I want to give it a chance. But it was so incredibly trite and derivative!

Tracey said...

J said:
As for the name, I like to think that the corporate owners were sitting around a table wondering, "Hey, how could we make Harlan Ellison even crankier?"

Hee hee! I'm on board with that. But I'd substitute the broader "science fiction fans" for "Harlan Ellison." With all the non-SF stuff they show on that network, we fans would like it better if they just dropped the "sci fi" name altogether and stopped blaming us for crap like ghost hunters and John Edwards.

As for Warehouse 13... I enjoyed it, actually. I'm a fan of steampunk, so seeing them work retrotech into a modern setting was pretty entertaining to me, although I have to admit that BigTed has a point about impeding scientific progress. I was a bit aggravated that the only means of transportation they have in the warehouse is a car that requires three people to run. It seemed a little too convenient a way to slow him down at a time when he needed to be slowed down. And ... why did he have to bring the picture to the front of the warehouse? Didn't make much sense.

But I like the underlying idea, and it amused me in the same way Eureka does, so I'll be back for more.

Kensington said...

I liked it, at least enough to keep watching. Somehow I've become a big fan of Saul Rubinek over the years, to the extent that his presence in something usually perks me right up.

The leads are appealing, and the ferret was cute.

Kind of shocked at how aggressively it's being pushed, though. I mean, are there any networks not airing it? This week alone it's being shown on SyFy, Oxygen, Chiller, USA and Bravo.

Anonymous said...

I have been waiting for a show like this to pop up since Raiders of the lost Ark. We all sighed when the government put the Ark of the Covenant in a crate and then in a warehouse oblivious to its power. And now we have Warehouse 13. Roll Reversal in a sci fi show.... Does the X Files come to mind? I thought the end was a little dopey but they have to start somewhere. And the ideas are endless for this show. SOS

Shopshopshop said...

I was sold after the whole "impossible wishes create ferrets" thing.

Tracey said...

@ShopShopShop: Yeah, when I first started, the whole place was overrun with ferrets...

Anonymous said...

Mixed feelings. I thought there were some plot holes (as someone else mentioned, why no better transportation in the warehouse?).

My big complaint, though, was the female lead. I thought she was playing petulant a lot of times. I had trouble buying her as an apparently very talented Secret Service agent, when she spent much of the episode whining about her boss needing to get her out of there.

My verify (verifi?) word is eneaker. I could see that showing up on the show, some type of energy sneaker.

Crystal said...

I'm halfway through or less, and I have to say I'm really enjoying it. The exchange in the car "can you finish a sentence... a complete thought...." etc, made me crack up. They've got some good dialogue in there. Hee. Artie and the ferrets may have been the turning point for me. Show's got potential.

Anonymous said...

Eldritch said:
Actors who do science fiction shows get stereotyped as just scifi actors pretty quickly, don't they?

Don't forget how many of these sci-fi shows are shot around Vancouver, so you can expect them to cast from the same pool of Canadian actors.

JackiWhitford said...

Well I liked it. I thought it was pretty mindless entertainment on par with Eureka. I love Saul Rubinek in anything he does, so I would watch ANY show that has him in it.

Anonymous said...

I'm *trying* to give it a chance, but so far it's too self-conciously "quirky" for my taste and too derivative of better shows. The plots don't make enough sense, the writing isn't smart enough, and the characters are either stereotypes or cartoons. Glad to see I wasn't the only one reminded of "Bones" -- watching Pete, all I could think was "Booth-wannabe" (but, of course, this guy hasn't a tenth of Boreanaz's charisma, nor is his lovely but grim partner in the same league with Emily Deschanel). What I really would like to see is the original pilot written by Rockne O'Bannon that they totally scrapped. (Full disclosure: "Farscape" is one of my all-time favorite TV shows.) Actually, I almost gave up on the premiere, but stuck around for the second show for Tricia Helfer (who actually can act -- she should have her own series), and I'll definitely tune in when Joe Flanigan guest stars.

Anonymous said...

Come on people, it's a great show. Entertaining and a solid sci-fi series i'm hoping. Problem with sci-fi now a days is that you fear getting attached because you never know if these shows will make it past the 1st season.

I enjoyed it, thought it was light hearted sci-fi done right.

Anonymous said...

Having watched all of the episodes so far, I really like it. I notice that they are not being shown in filmed order...interesting. I think some of the concerns expressed by the earliest posts have been resolved. (For example, the zip line method of getting into the warehouse). If you think about what they've discussed about quirky problems, modern stuff might not work in there. I think that some of the stuff that's hidden in there is not because it's too modern but rather that it has some dangerous effects associated with it. I love the chemistry between all the characters. Since it's a TV SHOW I'm trying not to pick apart the plots too much, but really just enjoy it. I'm afraid it will disappear and I hope audiences warm up to it and give it a chance. I think there's an interesting blend of a bigger story arc and the individual show plots that works well. Finally, I think that yes, there were clear nods to Raiders in the pilot and I personally find that it reminds me, in a good way, of the old Friday the 13th TV series. Hope it gets renewed, it deserves it.

Anonymous said...

I like to give new things a try so I thought I'd watch an episode of Warehouse 13, but darn it, it was yet another show with an actress who has those darn duck lips!!

I couldn't get past the fake looking duck bill looking lips long enough to focus on the story.

Maybe I'll try to watch it again another day.

Darren Evans said...

I can't get past the barrage of pithy one-liner dialogue from most of the characters. It's like every character is a stand-up comedian turned government official and it's not working. Pithy one liners are a good thing, but not in every damn sentence & situation the characters speak and encounter :)

A great series with believable characters will show both good, bad, sad and serious moments. As it stands, with their overuse of pithiness. the writers will merely straightjacket their character's personalities and future story plots.