Wed
Jul 8 2009 2:44pm

Doomed Summer Pilots: Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 debuted last night as the flagship series of the newly-rebranded Syfy (different name, same Aztec Rex). Technically, therefore, this is not a doomed pilot. However, based on the two-hour pilot, it should have been.

As a staunch fan of The Middleman, I was prepared to embrace the kitsch factor inherent in a show whose premise is the lovechild of the early seasons of The X-Files and the last crane shot from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sadly, the show falls short even of SyFy’s usual “so bad it’s funny” bar. You’d think a show featuring the seductive and laser-emitting hair comb of Lucretia Borgia would be more enjoyable than this, you know?

The conceit: A vast, shadowy CGI warehouse in South Dakota is home to a collection of supernatural and magical ephemera and nicknamed “America’s Attic,” even though the relics we deal with in this episode are Aztec and Italian. A Shady Government Agent recruits our heroes from the Secret Service to gather supernatural relics in a syndicatable fashion.

Our protagonists: He’s Latimer (Eddie McLintock doing his best David Boreanaz impression), a man we meet at the end of a one-night stand. (Her: “Not fair! You know everything about me.” Him: “Well, you talk a lot.” Ladies and gentlemen, your hero!) He also gets Vibes. We know, because it’s mentioned six times in the pilot, and also helps them get around three plot holes.

She’s Bering (Joanne Kelley), a stickler with an eye for detail. We know she has an eye for detail because two people mention she has an eye for detail when they are talking directly to her. We know she’s a stickler because she gets angry when people don’t do their jobs (oh, those career ladies!) and because Latimer tells her, “Unbunch your panties.” Ladies and gentlemen, your hero!

They get introduced to Artie, an old-timer in the Warehouse business whose job is to be a cryptic and/or expository busybody as the plot requires, who shows them around Warehouse 13, the world’s most steampunkishly twee MacGuffin. He gets around in Edison’s first horseless carriage, powered by people-energy! He keeps in touch with them via television-in-a-tin-box Farnsworth devices (get it?), and equips them with a Tesla pistol (get it?) for self-defense. The pistol shocks the recipient and erases their short term memory, except when Latimer uses it on Bering, in which case it has no effect on memory. (Good job with the continuity, writers! I am sure you tried your hardest; two hours is an awfully long time.)

The plot revolves around the Lucretia Borgia comb, which gives middle-aged loveless women the power to make young men do their bidding. Or beat up their girlfriends. Or stand around in crowds and moan half-heartedly in Italian. (The comb does all three; you just pick one, I guess.) In another quality indicator, Latimer hears the history of the comb and immediately makes a cougar reference. Topical!

The script is a sack of anvils, the protagonists two-dimensional and almost hilariously pat (Latimer Always Listens to His Hunches, because one time when he was a kid he didn’t listen to a hunch and his dad died. His dad DIED, okay?!). The plot itself is so boring I didn’t remember how things actually developed (hint: not worth recapping) until I went back and watched it again. Then I got to re-watch the part where the comb convinces the local college president to immolate himself, which is basically what I felt like doing after watching the episode twice. Well done, SyFy.

So, SyFy, I wish you the best with your new brand! However, as a friend, let me suggest knocking Warehouse 13 off the calendar before you sprain something trying to make it decent. If you’re looking for a wacky sci-fi action comedy, call Matt Keeslar and Natalie Morales; Warehouse 13 isn’t going to bring anyone else to your house party. (And if it does, I want to talk to every single one of those people. Seriously.)

19 comments
Ozzie Steele
1. Ozzie Steele
I think you're wrong. It was a fun show with a lot of potential. I respect your opinion but you sound like you wanted to hate it even before you saw it.
Ozzie Steele
3. SWS
I watched most of it, because it wasn't worth watching all of it. It was like they tried to mash up Sanctuary and Eureka, both of which were better right from the start than this show. I found the female main character really annoying as well. Visuals of gadgets are not going to carry a show.
Kurt Lorey
4. Shimrod
On my end, I only know of a single person who watched it, and he rated it as FAIL!.

He was also grousing something about not getting that two hours of his life back.

The concept might have had potential, but the reality of the "pilot" seems to have crashed and burned it.
Sean Fagan
5. sef
My biggest problem with it is that I knew it was The Librarian remade (I'm not saying that show was original either)... so the entirety of the pilot was pretty annoying, because I knew how it would go.

I'll watch it again. If only because not much else is on. :)
Amir Yoeli
6. Betterthenyouknew
BSG is gone... Time for a new space show.

I like Space... It's so... Big, and... Spacious...
Pam K
7. PamK
How do you make a show about blood-drinking Aztec statues and the magic comb of Lucretia Borgia *boring*?? I don't know, but somehow Syfy managed it...
Dru O'Higgins
8. bellman
The basic concept sounds like it has promise. It'll probably be cancelled so quick it never gets to Canada.

I wasn't really impressed by the pilot for Buffy, it took a few episodes before I realized the show was awesome. The show may improve once it passes the infodump stage.
Harry Barnes
9. Harpy
We all miss Middleman, just give this one a chance.
Tim Buchheim
10. tim1724
Pilots often suck. (remember Babylon 5's pilot? If not, be glad...)

I'd give it some time and see if it improves. A big problem with this episode was that it didn't really have enough story to fill two hours. I think it would have turned out a lot better if it had been half as long. When watching the episode it felt like someone high up at SyFy insisted that they have a 2 hour pilot, but didn't tell bother to the writer until the last minute.

I'll wait a few weeks before canceling the season pass on my TiVo.
Kristina Rice
11. kbellwether
I agree it was a little less than promising, but...

I give it a little extra credit for letting me see some actors I liked in other shows, like Dresden Files and Bones and Law & Order. The Lucretia possessed lawyer was Jennifer's mom in Storm Front, the female lead was Bianca the vamp, Detective Cremoni as the museum doc bewitched by the Aztec Head, the male lead was Sully with the boat from Bones, Michael Boatman a guest-villain on Criminal Minds last season, CCH Pounder for gosh sakes! I hope they give her character something more to do than glare. And Saul Rubinek is just so fun.

I'm willing to cut it some slack, especially since they still have one or two more cast members that were not introduced in the pilot. I'm always getting upset at stations not giving shows enough time to find their stride, and I think that goes both ways.
Joshua Heggen
12. Kelfyr
I thought it was alright. Not great by any means, and I'd expect more from a Jane Espenson script, but it was entertaining. I'd agree that it really felt stretched to hit the two hour mark, but the premise has promise and I'm interested to see where it goes.

(Mild Spoiler Ahead)

I would remark, though, that the Tesla gun did seem to have the memory wipe effect that Genevieve claims it didn't. Bering was about to blow her own head off but when she got hit with the gun, she seemed to forget being mind controlled by the comb-lady. Unless you meant some other time that I missed.
Cassie Ammerman
13. leanoir
Oh good, it wasn't just me that got bored!

I started to watch this Tuesday night, and only got halfway through. I thought maybe I was just too drunk to pay attention to something that was two hours long, but when I watched it again--all the way through this time--last night, I was sorely disappointed. In fact, I started reading a magazine during the last twenty minutes.
Meagan Brorman
14. nutmeag
Ouch. But I understand where you're coming from.

It's not Chuck or Eureka full-of-awesomeness fun, but I still found it to be enjoyable. I believe Alan Sepinwall has seen the 2nd episode and deemed it better than the pilot. http://www.nj.com/entertainment/tv/index.ssf/2009/07/warehouse_13_review_sepinwall.html

I will agree that the in-your-face characterization was a bit much, but hopefully things will improve with the exposition out of the way. Tim1724 has it right, pilots often kinda suck.
Ozzie Steele
15. Gabby2000
I saw the 2 hour pilot, it was not that exciting, and it's kind of the funny version of the X-Files minus the extra terrestrial encounters, we will see if the show will succeed once the season starts this coming Tues.
Ozzie Steele
16. mmoore
Wasn't there another flaky show--years back--that had people gathering up artifacts that hurt people? I can't recall the name.

It's still a stupid idea.
Ozzie Steele
17. Cloric
Friday the 13th: The Series


Fun but dumb...


this show will probably make a good summer show, where you couldn't care less if you miss an episode for vacation
Gabe Carr
18. Okorikuma
@mmoore; You might mean The Secret Room, if I have the name right. The premise might sound stupid, but it was awesome, and by far the best miniseries I ever saw on née SciFi. Although the ending did somewhat suck.

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