Mystery loves company.
Like Pringles, most good television is hard to devour one episode at a time. That being said, I’m warning you right now I’m not recommending Warehouse 13: Season Two for one simple reason: not all the episodes are included.
Season Two revolves around Myka (Joanne Kelly, The Dresden Files), Pete (Eddie McClintock, Bones), Artie (Saul Rubinek, Frasier), Claudia (Allison Scagliotti, Drake and Josh), and Leena (Genelle Williams, Degrassi: The Next Generation) as they struggle to discover what MacPherson has planned for them. Spoiler alert is in effect for the following episode descriptions…
* “Time Will Tell” — Picking up where the Season One finale left off, we learn Artie’s fate. We also follow MacPherson and discover a bit more about what he’s up to, specifically the unbronzing of H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray) who is set up to be the season’s new baddie. There’s also tension between Claudia and Leena, since Claudia can’t get past Leena making the team after thinking she was the double agent.
* “Mild Mannered” — Myka and Pete travel to Detroit where an artifact has appeared in the form of a superhero. Pete’s thrilled with this development, as it means he can tap into his inner fanboy, and Myka is delighted to finally get her stuff delivered.
* “Beyond Our Control” — After Claudia messes with her Farnsworth device, strange echoes appear in the town of Univille. The team must discover whether or not she’s responsible or if it’s a new artifact. Meanwhile, Leena works with Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder, Millennium) to determine whether or not MacPherson left something in her mind that can help reveal his overall plan.
* “Age Before Beauty” — Myka and Pete go undercover in the world of high fashion to figure out who or what is zapping the life out of models. Artie tries to help Claudia navigate the tricky waters of dating.
* “13.1” — It’s time to upgrade the computer system at the warehouse, so Eureka’s Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston) is called in, but he triggers a fail-safe that locks half the team inside. It’s up to Pete and Myka to retrieve the creator of the program, a man who lives in a sanatorium.
* “Around the Bend” — Mrs. Frederic asks Pete to lie to the team, which leads to Myka assuming Pete’s off the wagon. But nothing is what it seems, especially when Regent Valda (Mark Sheppard, Supernatural) comes into the picture.
* “For the Team” — When a wrestling squad of legendary losers suddenly begins to win every match, Myka takes off to investigate and Claudia tags along. Pete stays at the warehouse with Artie who needs his appendix removed. An unlikely ally appears to help Myka and forces her to question her own beliefs.
* “Merge with Caution” — Myka and Pete switch bodies. Hilarity ensues.
* “Vendetta” — Artie’s past comes to light and puts everyone around him in danger. When H.G. Wells makes an appearance, Artie must decide whether or not to trust her.
* “Where and When” — When Rebecca returns asking for help in solving a cold case, the team gets to work. But a rift between Myka and Artie sends the group in two directions, with Pete and Myka trusting H.G. Wells and Artie’s distrust leaving him to inadvertently put his friends’ lives on the line.
* “Buried” — Three college students die in Egypt and awaken the long lost Warehouse 2, which triggers unexpected consequences for the team, including Mrs. Frederic. H.G. Wells, and Valda join Pete and Myka on a trip to Warehouse 2 which turns treacherous in every way imaginable.
* “Reset” — Still reeling from the occurrences in Warehouse 2, Pete and Myka come back to South Dakota only to find the entire world in peril, as H.G. Wells’ plan is finally revealed. And it wouldn’t be a season finale without a cliffhanger, right?
Warehouse 13 is unlike any show I’ve seen, in the way it blends mystery, sci-fi, and comedy. The show refers to itself as a “thrilleromedy,” as apt a description as any. It takes a while to get used to the prevalence of the devil-may-care attitude the main characters display, but once that happens it’s pretty cool. Also refreshing is the lack of “Will they or won’t they?” between the two leads. I get my fix of that on other shows; it’s nice to just see a friendship develop.
Another thing that really struck me was the lack of a central arc carried throughout the season. You have the H.G. Wells storyline, sure, but that comes into play for less than half the season. Instead, all of the episodes focus on the characters and their development, making it quite easy for new viewers to start with any episode. The season opener and finale are the only ones where it is necessary to have seen the previous week, and even then there’s enough exposition (what the cast refers to as ‘master facting’) that a noob could (and did) easily pick up what’s going on. You can have Warehouse 13 on in the background and not have to worry you’re missing a whole bunch.
Aside from the relationships between the characters another thing which shines through is how much fun the actors are having while shooting. You feel like at times they are a moment away from breaking character and cracking up. Joanne Kelly is a deft foil for Eddie McClintock; her character is funny yet capable of emotionalism when needed. McClintock may have annoyed me on Bones, but is convincing in this role and plays off Kelly very well, bringing the sibling dynamic to life. CCH Pounder brings a nice gravitas to the character of Mrs. Frederic. In fact, if it weren’t for Pounder and Saul Rubinek providing a very necessary weight, the show would be a whole lot goofier. Allison Scagliotti breaks through this season, further developing the father-daughter vibe she shares with Rubinek. And Mark Sheppard is by far my favorite guest star of the season; his Regent Valda is badass with a sexy voice. I totally get why the gang over at Supernatural wanted him.
One of the best things about the show — and probably the most overlooked — is the props. There are so many things needed for a given episode and all are consistently believable. Equally impressive are the throw-aways, artifacts strewn about a scene for background while hinting at character development.
In terms of Season Two’s technical presentation, the video quality is pretty consistent with one noticeable exception. It looks best when there’s no CGI or special effects of any kind. The money just isn’t there to blend the effects well enough, though they seem to work the best when it’s an effect on a person, such as MacPherson’s death scene. I’d like to see more of the budget spent on shots that matter, such as making the Warehouse 13 look less like a hologram. This show is one of the gems in the Syfy universe and deserves to have money thrown at it.
The Dolby 5.1 audio lacks the proper mix, specifically with regards to the dialogue, forcing me to turn the volume way up at points to hear what characters were saying. There are a surprising number of contemporary music cues (for example Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”) which automatically date the show. While this doesn’t bother me, it may upset those who prefer their series to be conceivably placed in any year.
Extras on Disc One: Deleted Scenes (5 min); Gag Reel (3 min); “Time Will Tell” episode commentary; and A Thrilleromedy (7 min) which is a pretty basic behind-the-scenes press kit featurette with the executive producer waxing poetic about the show.
Extras on Disc Two: Deleted Scenes (6 min); Video Blogs (20 min) which is a collection of five blogs detailing (among other things) changes for Season Two; Photo Gallery (9 min); “Merge with Caution” episode commentary; A Stitch in Time (3 min) featurette discussing the addition of H.G. Wells in terms the show’s mythology and sci-fi in general.
Extras on Disc Three: Deleted Scenes (5 min); “Reset” episode commentary; Designing the Warehouse (7 min) which is a featurette detailing the props and how the design of the warehouse came into being; and the Eureka crossover episode (44 min), “Crossing Over,” in which Claudia travels to Eureka to see what Global Dynamics has been able to do with Warehouse 13‘s goo, and ends up witnessing 1947 Eureka trying to merge with 2010 Eureka.
The deleted scenes don’t add anything to the episodes they were cut from, with the exception of “Time Will Tell.” Artie says something about morals which could conceivably come back later and be an interesting idea to pursue. I was intrigued by the idea that the episode’s tone changed with this one simple omission. The episode commentaries are pretty standard fare, a lot of reminiscing about how crappy this location was, how tired they were, how bad the weather was, who got hurt, and things like that. The most interesting thing I learned from the special features was that Season One was the most successful show in Syfy Channel history.
I’d buy Warehouse 13: Season Two, if all the episodes were there. What’s missing is the Christmas tale, “Secret Santa,” which will likely show up on the Season Three release. If that doesn’t bother you, you’ll enjoy the special features and episode commentaries enough to justify a purchase. If you’re a Blu-ray buff, you have a bit of a wait ahead of you…and hopefully that release will have all thirteen episodes.