WAREHOUSE 13 3.13: “The Greatest Gift”

Christmas specials are usually about two things: family, and the “magic” of the holiday. And there’s usually one other element crammed in: an old fat guy with a white beard who may or may not be Santa Claus — but who invariably turns out to be the real Santa, after all. (He even mentioned that bike you wanted as a child!)

The great thing about the WAREHOUSE 13 Christmas episode is that it wasn’t really about Christmas — it was the relationship between the characters we have come to know so well, and reveals that Pete is pretty much the lynchpin that holds the gang together. And, yes, they are a “family” of sorts. Oh, and there was no pseudo Santa — despite being one of the few shows on which such a character would actually work!
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WAREHOUSE 13 2.1: Time Will Tell

WAREHOUSE 13 is back, beckoning us to return to America’s Attic for another season of runaway artifacts and the agents who live to “Snag it, bag it and tag it.” It marked a fun, suspenseful beginning to the SyFy series’ sophomore summer.

The most shocking aspect of the second-season premiere was not that Artie survived certain incineration in the wake of last season’s cliff-hanger finale, but the way he survived: He used the Phoenix charm to resurrect himself literally from ashes, just like the mythical bird. The downside, of course, is that someone else had to die in his place. When you think about it, that is a supremely selfish decision. Granted, Artie (Saul Rubinek) had to make the call in a split-second under the extreme duress of having a huge fireball bearing down on him, but still… I suppose he was weighing his value as caretaker of the warehouse and balancing that against some unknown person, but he had to know there was a chance Pete (Eddie McClintock) or Myka (Joanne Kelly) could have fallen victim, since it wasn’t established that they had touched the amulet. In fact, Pete’s coughing fit clearly implied that Artie and Myka thought he could die. Needless to say, I was thrilled that our friends all dodged the Reaper. I’m not saying it turned out all right just because a bit player bit the dust. Do you think you’re more important than your boss’ chauffeur?
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Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe’s 7/22/09

July 22, 2009
RESCUE ME’s Tommy Gavin has turned the corner from being merely a self-destructive guy who causes a lot of collateral damage to a self-destructive guy who takes others down with him. This week’s episode culminated in Tommy leading (most of) his family back to drinking. The extended clan had gathered to stage an intervention to make Tommy stop drinking, but he turned the tables in a big way. But the intervention was probably doomed from the moment it was decided to conduct it in a bar. (Good thinking, Maggie!) Defrocked Mickey was able to keep the faith and resist the lure of the demon booze, but Tommy’s siren song got to everyone else. This episodes deft mix of the deadly serious and seriously childish — the subplot about Needles’ mail-order Russian bride was a juvenile as it was funny — just makes last week’s Emmy snubs all the more difficult to take. RESCUE ME totally deserved an outstanding drama nod, and Denis Leary should have been nominated in the lead actor category. At least Michael J. Fox landed his richly deserved guest-actor nomination. So it wasn’t a total washout.

It’s not in the same league, dramatically speaking, but I am liking Syfy’s new WAREHOUSE 13 more and more each week. Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly are fleshing out their characters with some fun quirks (ice skating helps Myka think; Pete is obsessed with cookies) and Saul Rubinek is getting a grip on exactly what kind of lovable eccentric Artie will be. I am especially impressed with the way Myka is proving to be a very vulnerable character, rather than the “tougher-than-any-man” stereotype of a fed. Her mixture of guilt and barely suppressed hostility dovetail nicely with Pete’s boyish enthusiasm.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

Soap Opera Weekly: Read at Joe’s 7/8/09

It would be too easy to create a list of “10 Things I Hate About 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU,” but I will limit myself and boil it down to three points:

1. There are no characters on this show, only stereotypes. A beautiful, snotty Head Cheerleader. The Geek who worships with the social-climbing Pretty Girl. The requisite Bad Boy who literally rides a motorcycle. Really?
2. “Empowered” sister Kat immediately sees through Patrick’s broody B.S., yet falls for his act anyway. Clichés win out every time — what kind of “empowerment” message is that?
3. The tasteless wheelchair punishment.

To be fair, I will include two things I liked the show:

1. A few good lines of dialogue.
2. It was only about a half-hour long.

Sci Fi .. .um, I mean SyFy’s new series, WAREHOUSE 13 fares a little better in the “Can we please shoehorn in one new idea?” sweepstakes (but not all that much better). The idea is that there is a warehouse in South Dakota that holds all the mysterious relics and weird objects collected by the U.S. government over the years. Think of it as the facility where the Ark of the Covenant was sent at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, or the place you’d store the freaky stuff Mulder and Scully found on THE X-FILES. Two Secret Service agents were assigned to joined eccentric Artie as caretakers of the repository, and retrieve any magical articles that somehow go missing and cause havoc in the outside world. It certainly is derivative of any number of other TV shows (including the old FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES), but perhaps the-powers-that-be were shooting for “homage.” I was bored by the pseudo Mulder/Scully dynamic; honestly, you two, just knock boots next week and get it out of the way. And the “mystery” of the relic was waaaay to slow to unwind in the second hour (yes, the second hour). But eccentric Artie (Saul Rubinek) started to grow on me, and I loved the steampunk aesthetic of the warehouse’s technology. Artie’s computer keyboard, the bulky two-way video box and Tesla’s electric gun were all brilliant strokes. If TPTB can dig more Victorian tech out of “America’s Attic,” then WAREHOUSE 13 might avoid being shelved.

As usual, there was no shortage of original thinking on RESCUE ME, thankfully. The guys brought the ladder truck and Suburban to the hospital to cheer up the cancer kids. But Tommy ended up getting into a heavy conversation about life, death and the nature of hope with one of the kids, who was convinced he was going to die. The kid appreciated that Tommy didn’t try to sugarcoat his grim reality. Leave it to RESCUE ME to handle the specter of death in such an off-kilter manner. Death + kids is not always a crowd-pleaser, but it sure made an impression. But before the scene got too depressing, one of the other kids hijacked the rig and set off a merry chase, with poor Lou clinging to the outside of the cabin as the truck careened madly down city streets. Hmmm, was that a metaphor for life itself?

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com