Sunday, March 06, 2011

Creative scavenger hunts

(Published March 7, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The quirky and campy fantasy-sci-fi show “Warehouse 13” ponders: What objects are too dangerous in the hands of regular folk, and what should be done with these potential weapons? A secret American government agency retrieves them, then neutralizes or contains them in a hidden storage facility called Warehouse 13, the latest in a line of buildings equipped to handle such exotic artifacts.

Two Secret Service agents are partnered for the retrieval missions: Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) used to protect the president, and despite the workplace friction between them, they’re soon recruited by the mysterious Mrs. Frederic (C.C.H. Pounder). Myka is organized and thorough, while Pete is more instinctive and spontaneous. He has a “sixth sense,” too, very useful and quite accurate in pinpointing trouble.

An “X-Files”-ish vibe does help add some familiarity and accessibility to the show, but this lighter, much simpler series has learned much not only from that groundbreaking program, but from shows belonging to other genres. The sexual tension between the partners, the procedural structure of the episodes, the comedic touches, the potentially limitless mythology—“Warehouse 13” competently fuses seemingly unconnected storytelling elements without becoming watered-down or turning into a confused mixture of different things.

The love-hate dynamic between Myka and Pete is likeable for its rom-com cuteness, but their interactions with other team members are just as important. Scene-stealing supporting characters are played by similarly talented actors; Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek) is their busy egghead boss, while Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) is the resident smart aleck and tech-mistress.

While the science surrounding the rampaging objects can be vague, some explanations actually make sense; sometimes, one won’t mind the hokey details too much. Inventively tying most of the featured gadgets and items to historical figures also enhances stories. Some of the more dangerous relics that the agents had to deal with include Lewis Carroll’s dimension-bridging mirror, and Edgar Allan Poe’s reality-disrupting pen and notebook.

“Warehouse 13” airs Mondays, 8 p.m., on Fox.

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