- Dr. Artie Nielsen to his new Agents: "And that is exactly what we do here. Take the unexplained, and we just safely tuck it away in this super-sized Pandora's Box. Well, actually, Pandora's Box is over in aisle 989-B. Empty, of course."
X-FILES rubbing up against INDIANA JONES is the tantalizing concept at the heart of WAREHOUSE 13, although, come to think of it, TNT's THE LIBRARIAN movies are even closer to theme. And to top it all off, the show's writers lob in an element of screwball. After saving the President's life at a fancy soirée, two gifted Secret Service agents are reassigned indefinitely to the badlands of South Dakota, to the off-the-grid government storage facility called Warehouse 13. Except that Agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering are as incompatible as two partners can get. Lattimer is an intuitive maverick, but sort of all over the place. Agent Bering is strictly by-the-books and with a meticulous eye for detail, but she's highly irritable and uptight (although she does loosen up some as the season progresses). I guess they really are Mulder and Scully revisited. Or maybe David Addison and Maddie Hayes? Because there's a pervasive light tone to the series.
Both agents regard their reassignment as a sort of punishment, and on the surface you can see why. Stuck in one of the Dakotas, gazing at a fugly structure in the middle of nowhere, and with a weird, messy-looking person offering them cookies and a tour of the place. But inside the ridiculously vast Warehouse 13 is a whole new job description. Or as Mrs. Frederick, cryptic director of the Warehouse project, puts it, this new gig is "an invitation to endless wonder." Now Bering and Lattimer find themselves investigating paranormal occurrences and - for the world's peace of mind - confiscating dangerous mystic artifacts and storing them in the deep confines of Warehouse 13. "Snag it, bag it, and tag it," as the show's motto goes. Long as they don't run out of that neutralizing purple solution.
There's such a neat factor involved around the artifacts: From the Tesla gun and the Farnsworth communication devices that the agents use to Edgar Allan Poe's pen which can bring its writer's words to life to Lewis Carroll's mirror which houses a vile spirit to Harriet Tubman's illusion-casting thimble. And because most of these knick-knacks are supernatural in nature, you don't get mired in scientific jibber-jabber. This show can pretty much come up with any wicked awesome relic it can think of. As a sports guy, maybe my favorite is the football which circles the planet when you throw it, eventually returning to the thrower like a boomerang.
The agents take their orders from Dr. Arthur "Artie" Nielsen, the secretive Agent-in-charge who acts as caretaker to Warehouse 13. Artie is fussy, and more than a little high strung, and a perennial crankypants. In other words, actor Sal Rubinek perfectly inhabits the role. Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly play the two squabbling Secret Service leads and they're instantly likable, very un-Rubinek-like. I love the barbed repartee between Pete and Myka. They exude that heat. It shouldn't be long before the fans are clamoring for them to pair up.
If I were to do one of those word association games and this show was mentioned, my immediate response would be "helluva lotta fun." WAREHOUSE 13 shares a similar thread with its sister series SANCTUARY, except that where SANCTUARY is mostly somber and moody, WAREHOUSE 13 is very much tongue-in-cheeked, and this in a way allows its audience to breathe. Pete and eventual newcomer, that cool genius teen Claudia Donovan, are unrepentant wiseacres and, as mentioned, even Myka loosens up some. And, occasionally, the episodes plonk the characters in humorous situations. Maybe my favorite episode of Season One - other than the "Pilot" - is the wild "Breakdown" episode, in which the Neutralizer Processing Center (which keeps the artifacts dormant) goes on the fritz, leaving Pete, Myka, and Claudia trapped in a warehouse full of artifacts gone haywire. This is also when we meet the mysterious Regents, to whom Mrs. Frederick answers. "Duped" is a close second because it offers a different look at Myka. In "Duped," Myka is caught at ground zero when the Studio 54 disco ball (which unleashes trapped desires) and Lewis Carroll's mirror clash. This episode also features Erica Cerra and Niall Matter (both from EUREKA, but playing different characters).
Other noteworthy episodes: "Resonance," if you're a fan of Tricia Helfer who here plays a sexy FBI agent. "Burnout" expands the Warehouse 13 mythology as Myka and Pete find the skeleton of a Warehouse 13 agent in the basement of a police precinct. Don't get it twisted, though, there have been bits of world-building and the establishing of thru arcs from jump. The weird "haunting" of Warehouse 13 in the early episodes would lead to Claudia Donovan's arrival. We learn of Artie's shady past, and its present-day ramifications. We peek into the Dark Vault, in which the most dangerous artifacts are safeguarded. And in the last arc, the agents come face to face with the greatest threat to Warehouse 13, one of its former agents James MacPherson. This guy is a nasty customer and has a beef with Artie. He also has a knack for consistently staying several steps ahead of Artie and the agents. MacPherson's machinations leave us all hanging in Season One's taut final episode. To be honest, I loved the pilot and but wasn't so into the next four or five episodes (not counting "Claudia," which is pretty good). But with "Burnout," things pick up and the show begins building momentum all the way to the season ender. If you're not watching this show, I say you're missing out on something good. If it's an incentive, Season 2 even features a crossover with the excellent EUREKA.
WAREHOUSE 13 - SEASON ONE presents all twelve episodes on three discs and features the following bonus stuff: cast & crew commentaries on 4 episodes (the "Pilot" episode with actor Saul Rubinek; "Claudia" with actors Joanne Kelly, CCH Pounder, Allison Scagliotti, & producers Jack Kenny and Drew Z. Greenberg; "Implosion" with actors Joanne Kelly, CCH Pounder, producer Jack Kenny, and writer Bob Goodman; and "Macpherson" with actors CCH Pounder & Allison Scagliotti and producer Jack Kenny); Deleted Scenes for 7 episodes; a so-so gag reel (00:03:13 minutes long); "Saul Searching" - Saul Rubinek answers questions from the rest of the cast (00:02:12 minutes); "Ye Olde Curiousity Shoppe" - interviews with the cast and crew which cover the characters and concepts and tone of the show (00:11:24); "Artie-Facts" - the cast & crew talk about about the various supernatural objects of Warehouse 13 (00:04:51); "What's in the Shadows" - covers the dark side of WAREHOUSE 13, such as, oooooh, what's in Warehouse 13's scary Dark Vault? Or who are the Regents? And what's up with James MacPherson? (00:05:53); and a sneak peek at Season 2 of WAREHOUSE 13 (00:03:54).