Everyone knows the US government have an enormous warehouse where they store all the weird stuff we’re not supposed to see. We saw it in The X-Files, we saw it at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark and in Warehouse 13 we meet the people who run it.
In many ways the show follows the standard US crime/mystery/sci-fi mould. We have a pair of ridiculously good-looking Secret Service agents – the maverick one Pete and the by-the-book one Myka – who each episode are sent to investigate mysterious goings on by their equally mysterious handler, Artie. Instead of the ‘monster of the week’ we have the ‘artefact of the week’ – usually a totem object previously owned by someone famous and somehow imbued with some element of that historical figure’s psyche. The objects vary from the disturbing to the wacky but all possess enough power to pose a threat to lives and thus our heroes must track down and contain the offending articles.
Pretty standard stuff really, and there’s great potential for the show to go nowhere and mire itself in run-of-the-mill mediocrity but over the course of the series the comedy hi-jinks are increasingly set against a darker and darker background. Right from the first episode it is clear that warehouse agents have a disturbingly high mortality rate and this is brought home again and again as the series goes on. Hints are dropped of the dark past of their mentor Artie and things come to a head when his former partner, the Moriarty-like MacPherson, appears and pulls the plot of the series careening down a new path filled with misdirection and betrayal (and the requisite cliffhanger series ending).
There are a couple of other nice touches too. It is revealed that every pair of warehouse agents are recruited and partnered based on a certain set of talents. One of the two is always driven by instinct and has an intuitive ‘feel’ for the strange and dangerous. The other is very detail-oriented, able to analyse a situation and flag the clues and warning signs. It’s nice how the writers decided not to go with the female character being the intuitive touchy-feely one, even if they then did go a little too far the other way and make Myka spiky and uptight. On the other hand Pete has come across as fairly two dimensional so far. He’s the generic charming hero type with a bit of boyhood guilt, past alcoholism and the deaf sister sprinkled on in a fairly unoriginal attempt at flavouring. It’d be good to see his character developed more in season 2.
Warehouse 13 is very entertaining and has enough good things going for it to make it worth watching. If the writers hold their nerve and keep exploring the edgier themes of the last half of this first series, it could become a classic.