Warehouse 13 (2012) – “A New Hope” – Season 4, Episode 1, Story 39 – Written by Jack Kenny, Directed by Chris Fisher.
I am continually bemused by the success of WAREHOUSE 13.
The program is generally not exceedingly well written or exceedingly well acted and yet whenever a new episode pops up in my Hulu queue, I watch it within a day or two, and enjoy it, no matter how many times I roll my eyes at it. I made much the same point when I reviewed Episode 1 of Season 3, in which I cited the show’s likability as they key to its success.
A year later and it’s a new song but the same tune. I like W13 even as I can’t get away from the fact that it is, at best, a mediocre show. But if a mediocre show is this likable, doesn’t that make it a good show? Or does it just make it a popular one?
There is a strong undercurrent of not just negativity but hostility in sci-fi fandom. I don’t want to get into all the whys of that (because I don’t know or care why anyone chooses to obsess over the bad instead of celebrating the good) but anyone who’s been on this block for one fad has seen it in operation. It’s evident in all the “I liked (current movie) better when it was called (movie from several years ago).” We see it going on right now with the Avengers vs. Dark Knight Rises talk. We saw it a couple months ago when The Hunger Games was out and suddenly everyone had seen Battle Royale. And there’s the (seemingly) eternal Star Trek vs. Star Wars confrontation and, more briefly, the Star Trek vs. Babylon 5 kerfuffles.
We (and I’ll include myself in this because I got caught up in these debates when I was younger) like to make these things personal. I don’t know if it’s a means of making ourselves feel better because we like one show better than another, or if it’s the sci-fi version of rooting for your favorite sports team, or it’s just a way for the herd to separate, but it’s there.
I’m not talking about genuinely liking one show over another, either, but that thing people do where they start brandishing their opinions like weapons. “Oh, you like Star Trek? Have you not seen Stargate Atlantis?”
And it’s not just sci-fi fans, either. Every group does it, even allegedly professional critics. Inception is the best recent example; that film went from being the Greatest Thing Ever to the Most Overrated Thing Ever all before the movie ever came out.
I took us down that winding road because while W13′s success confuses me to a certain degree, and while I don’t think it’s an exceedingly well made show, I repeat:
I like this show.
It’s there for 12 or 13 or, this year, 20 episodes, and I will watch every single episode and really like some and then just sorta like some. I don’t know if there’s been more than a couple episodes this whole time that I’ve actively disliked, even if, again, when I watch it I can’t help but groan at some of the writing and some of the acting and some of the directing.
Season 4 started the other night, with a title you may have seen used elsewhere: “A New Hope.” Which is fitting because so much of W13 is derivative (though it’s usually done with a very big wink). At the end of season 3, Walter Sykes (Anthony Michael Hall) blew up the warehouse, and the only reason Artie, Pete, and Myka (Saul Rubinek, Eddie McClintock, and Joanne Kelly) survived was because H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray) sacrificed herself so they could survive.
“A New Hope” picks up right where Season 3 ended – the warehouse has been destroyed, Wells is dead, Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) is dead, and Artie has a magical timepiece that can maybe reset time. Everyone is like, “Push the button, Artie!” but Artie’s like, “We have to study it or else we could do something worse,” so they end up on a magical 24 hour ride of globetrotting in order to find all the clues that will lead them to discovering the truth and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Rome blah blah blah Brent Spiner blah blah blah blah … Pete dies … blah blah blah … Pete and Spiner kill each other … blah blah blah … Artie activates the watch … blah blah blah … everything goes back to normal except that Artie knows what he did and he’s got the prophecy from the Spooky Priest Person (that’s the role Spiner is playing – I didn’t meant to imply he was playing himself) that his actions will create a new evil. I wonder how long it’s going to take us to figure out what this new evil thing could-
Oh, we know right now?
Claudia goes evil because she’s mad that Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) is still dead. I know, you’re asking how that’s possible if she can’t remember what happened over the past 24 hours. Well, two things. One, she was ready to check out even before the W13 crew went globe hopping and two, Brother Spin- I mean, Brother Adrian said Artie’s act would create the evil. But while we were surprisingly told what this new evil would be, we weren’t told what Claudia was ultimately going to-
Oh, we know right now?
Claudia is going to kill Artie, and she’s going to do it … in black and white! (Although maybe that was just a stylistic choice.)
It’s a genuinely good set-up for Season 4 because it takes their typically, playfully contentious relationship and gives us a darker take on it. There’s talk of reinstating H.G. Wells, and maybe if Claudia goes Dark Side we can have Wells around every week, which would be good because she’s the best part of the show. I like that Artie, the man with all the secrets, now has a bigger secret, and I like that Mrs. Frederic knows that he’s hiding something. I also like that Pete and Myka are generally pleasantly in the dark because it reinforces the disconnect between field agents and warehouse agents.
I also don’t think there’s much to talk about when it comes to the actual episode, but then, that’s WAREHOUSE 13 in a nutshell, isn’t it? Likable characters doing forgettable things that remind us of something else.
It would be wrong to say that I “can’t wait” for episode 2. I can wait just fine. But when Hulu delivers into my magical “to watch” list, I’ll click the button, have an inoffensively decent time, and wonder how something so mediocre can be so likable.