Watson BBC

Warehouse 13: a non-spoilerish review

In the last few days Mr P and I have watched almost the entire first season of Warehouse 13. This is a Skiffy Channel series that is a bit X-Files-y and a bit steampunky, which is a combination I like. We've watched all but the season finale, and we'll probably hit that tonight.

I do not feel fannish in the least about it, but it's entertaining enough. The cast is charming. The writing is relentlessly mediocre, however, and this prevents me from ever feeling on fire about it or telling you guys to watch it. There's no thematic depth at all. Artifacts owned by Edgar Allen Poe will show up and have interesting effects (a typical plot driver for this show) but those effects aren't tied to anything about the character arcs. A giant pendulum is suddenly menacing our heroes! For no reason other than that a giant pendulum is Poe-ish and sort of cool; watch it woosh past! Or if they are thematically tied in, it's in the most straightforward, foregrounded way you can imagine. It's either on the nose or utterly meaningless. The sort of stuff Whedon does in his sleep with his scripts, for instance, is entirely missing here.

Steampunky things are fun, though. If you like absurd but cool retro gadget styling and the idea of things designed by Tesla in daily use, you'll like the set dressing here. It also has nice sound design. If you like bickering leads, this might hit the spot for you. The central character is Myka, the woman, so if you're looking for a series with women foregrounded this might do it.

Lord John Marbury has a recurring role. Well, not him, but I can never remember the actor's name and it's not like I can stop thinking about Marbury when he's on-screen.
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The writing during Season 2 gets significantly better, although it's still far from outstanding.

IMO, the main problem with the show is the two leads. They're cute enough, but they're bland and they have zero chemistry. Season 2 has more of an ensemble feel, another big improvement.

I have to admit that, despite all my criticisms, I enjoy the show a lot. I kind of love both Artie and Claudia.

--Willowgreen, who always gets Roger Rees (the Lord John Marbury actor--I had to look him up) mixed up with the guy who played Ethan Rayne.
We love Artie a lot, and go back and forth on Claudia (needs better writing, but her snarky relationship with Artie is fun). One of the reasons we're watching is that I heard it steps up in S2 and that there's an interesting recurring character (historical figure, writer, with a twist I won't mention here because I promised no spoilers).

Also, I think I agree on the chemistry with the leads! The Mulder-Scully spark is missing somehow. Do you just have to nail the casting to make that happen?

I'd love to see Robin Sachs on American TV again. Sigh. Ethan.
For things designed by Tesla, I watch Sanctuary. It has fascinating characters - some of them, anyway - too, and the same mediocre writing. Honestly, Syfy doesn't do shows so much as predictable examples of obvious categories.
You know, "predictable examples of obvious categories" is sort of WHAM on the money here. Well, it's supposed to get better. I will investigate "Sanctuary"...