First there was Area 51, the top secret government storage facility in the desert for unexplained and alien objects. Now follows Warehouse 13, a declassified building in South Dakota housing various creepy and powerful artefacts from the past. Whatever next? Cupboard 22? Presumably located next to a nice set of drawers in deepest, darkest Croydon.
Anyway, this feature length pilot for the Sci Fi Channel's latest endeavour is a very patchy affair that fails to make a wholly convincing case for sticking with the series. The story follows two US government agents – the intuitive Pete (Eddie McClintock) and meticulous Myka (Joanne Kelly) - as they are whisked out of their normal duties having foiled a presidential assassination and sent to work for the eccentric Artie (Saul Rubinek) in the aforementioned warehouse. The beleaguered pair are then quickly dispatched to Iowa to investigate some mysterious beatings by a possessed college student.
The characterisation and slightly tongue-in-cheek tone of the show are both spot on, which is hardly a surprise given the involvement of Buffy
and Battlestar Galactica
scribe Jane Espenson behind the scenes. This helps to ensure that the show isn't a mere X-Files
clone despite the obvious parallels. For example, when Myka drags her partner Pete from the wreckage of a car crash, he shouts: "You're giving me a wedgie!" You’d never hear that phrase from the lips of Fox Mulder.
McClintock and Kelly not only complement each other well with their sturdy performances, but the professionalism of their characters forms a nice contrast with Rubinek's madcap boss. Their early scenes together are eerily reminiscent of Doctor Who
, with the sci-fi jargon-spouting Artie introducing his two new stunned companions to not only fantastical new lives, but a warehouse that appears far bigger on the inside than on the outside. "Come in, it's okay," he reassures the pair as they freeze with trepidation before entering the building. Perhaps he should have offered them a jelly baby first?
Yet while these vital foundations are impressively established, the self-contained plot revolving around some 16th century Italian murderess possessing various folks via a comb is deeply uninvolving and lacks any great sense of urgency or jeopardy. The attention span is sorely tested and only the two engaging leads, with the odd amusing quip, keep the whole enterprise afloat.
The pilot episode certainly lacks the narrative incident to justify 90 minutes of screen time, and fortunately future episodes will adhere to the usual 45 minutes. The framework is there, but a lot depends on the Warehouse 13
writers conjuring up some half-interesting mysteries and artefacts for Myka and Pete to explore.> What do you think of Warehouse 13? Share your views