Where do these heroes put all these fabulous things when they find them? SyFy has a new series that answers that question in WAREHOUSE 13.
The idea of a secret storage for paranormal artifacts has been in the popular consciousness for a while. The warehouse archetype is probably derived from Hanger 18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where UFO lore says that the Roswell remains were taken. That was expanded to Area 51 at Groom Lake, Nevada near Las Vegas, where alien tech is supposedly stored while scientists work on reverse engineering it.
WAREHOUSE 13 soldifies the archetpe by focusing on the warehouse itself and the people who work there. Artie, the genius in charge of "snagging, bagging and tagging" artifacts is a colorful character brilliantly underplayed by Saul Rubinek in a role that could easily be over the top in a lesser actor's hands. He knows the thousands of items in the warehouse and can pull one up at a moment's notice.
His two agents, Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Mika (Joanne Kelly), are the field workers who hunt down the artifacts. They're a clever match of logic and feelings. She operates by observation and deduction and he works with hunches, and they've reversed the unusual stereotype of female intuition. McClintock plays Pete and does a great job of making likeable a character who could probably get really annoying in real life, and Kelly is wonderful as an agent who at first suffered Pete about as well as Mr Spock would one of the Three Stooges but is rapidly bonding with him.
CCH Pounder is appropriately formidable as their government boss Mrs Frederick, and Genelle Williams as Leena seemed underused until we saw her dispensing some of her wisdom to Artie in "Elements." Leena's real role may be counseler to the team.
Artie was recently joined by a newcomer, Claudia Donovan, a younger genius played by Allison Scagliotti. The day before I watched that episode she gave a moving performance on MENTAL as a girl ... I mean a boy ... you had to be there. I'll say again that she is an awesome actress. Claudia can out-think Artie (the actress calls her the punk to his steam) and their byplay should be as much fun as Pete and Mika. The scene that best describes their relationship has him yelling, "No no no!" and her "Yes yes yes!"
I like smart heroines with a tart sense of humor, in fact I used to play one in D&D (see Jan 24 2008). I can totally see Taryn saying "Serendipity is my stripper name."
The series is building a deep background mythology. Warehouse 13 is its thirteenth incarnation, one of the first being the Great Library at Alexandria; it moves to the center of power in the world and has been in America for 200 years (getting ready to move to India soon?). There's a touch of steampunk too, with devices designed by Nikola Tesla, something of a modern myth himself. It was designed by Tesla, Thomas Edison and MC Escher. Another new touch is that the artifacts are not always the created type - most are common objects that belonged to a historical character with a powerful personality whose traits were imbued into the artifacts. There's just enough talk about quantum reality to plant the series in SF instead of just mysticism.
There's probably a reason why the warehouse myth appeals to SF fans. Most of us collect - books, comics, movies, toys. WAREHOUSE 13 must seem like a fanboy's dream come true.