TV Review – Warehouse 13: All the Time in the World

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Warehouse 13’s penultimate episode of its 4th season, All the Time in the World, is an interesting watch. Existing mostly to elaborate on Anthony Head’s villainous Paracelsus in time for the season finale, the episode deals primarily with the tragedy of death verses the greater tragedy of immortality. The subject matter is certainly more serious and heady than most episodes of the show, though the episode retains the trademark humour (be that a good thing or a bad thing) and tone that long-time viewers will be familiar with. Whilst All the Time in the World is certainly one of the more enjoyable episodes of the series thus far, it consists almost entirely of set-up for the next episode. Perhaps the strongest reason to watch the episode is its cast. This episode is a veritable “who’s-who” of genre television actors, many of whom have strong cult followings due to their appearances in other sci-fi shows. James Marsters (best known for his role as Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Polly Walker (known for Rome and the ill-fated Battlestar Galactica prequel series- Caprica) and the previously mentioned Anthony Head (who has appeared in so many programmes of this nature that it is actually a surprise to realise that he hasn’t appeared in Warehouse 13 already) all have significant roles to play in the proceedings as the members of a family of immortals. Head’s Paracelsus (who shares virtually nothing with his historical counterpart other than his name and his interest in science) plans to finally make himself immortal by using the two separated parts of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) are dispatched to stop Paracelsus’ nefarious scheme because his existence threatens the safety of the Warehouse and its contents. The episodes’ B-Plot concerns Artie (Saul Rubinek) and Steve (Aaron Ashmore) trying to save Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) who’s potentially crumbling to death inside a bronze shell.

Being the episode that leads into a series finale, All the Time in the World possesses a degree of tension that was lacking in previous episodes of the show. These episodes are frequently when massive changes like character deaths occur in order to bring more emotional resonance to the final episode. As a result, one cannot be sure when viewing the episode whether or not the characters will be successful in their endeavours to stop Paracelsus and save Claudia. There is a great deal of emotional weight in this episode; from the tragic immortal lives of Paracelsus’ extended family to the reminder that Myka has cancer that she is refusing to receive treatment for. The emotional steaks have never felt higher for the show which is usually a more optimistic and reassuring watch. This darker streak turns the episode into a refreshing watch, even if Pete’s childish one-liners frequently break up the tension of a scene. There are certainly problems with the episode. Anthony Head plays Paracelsus as a cackling madman; a disappointment since Head has the acting talent to make this character into a sophisticated antagonist with legitimate reasons for wanting to be immortal beyond simple megalomania. Josh Blaylock as the immortal teenage nephew of Paracelsus is wooden and irritating- both as a character and as a performance. All important scenes explaining the mythology of the Warehouses are rushed through with little proper explanation. However, these are fairly minor faults in what was a surprisingly strong episode. Even the location subtitles (that announce when the action has moved to a new city or country) which are usually loud and obnoxious were used cleverly in this episode. All the Time in the World is certainly a strong set-up for the series finale.

Image reproduced from TV.com

TV Review: Warehouse 13 – Runaway

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Runaway is a Warehouse 13 episode that fully embraces the inherent silliness of the show and its characters. At times, the characters feel less like themselves and more like parodies of themselves. The usually grumpy and cantankerous Artie (Saul Rubinek) spends this episode literally screaming about the social importance of birthday clowns. The frequently childish and immature Pete (Eddie McClintock) has devolved into a total buffoon, deliberately misquoting The Fugitive in an attempt to be funny. Bizarrely, this approach of exaggerating the traits of the show’s characters makes the episode surprisingly entertaining- though perhaps not in the way that the show’s creators intended. As is usually the case with Warehouse 13, the episode is split into two plot-lines. The first follows Myka (Joanne Kelly), Pete and Steve (Aaron Ashmore) investigating a bizarre prison break involving molten lava. The trio soon realise that their opponent has some relation to a local gang who’ve members both behind bars and on the streets. The second plot-line deals with Artie gradually going deaf due to an unfortunate attack of Beethoven’s magical clock (as previously mentioned, this episode is more than a little silly). The prison plot-line also features an appearance by an old flame of Steve’s, who provides something of an insight into the most underdeveloped of the Warehouse agents. The episode should be credited for presenting a gay relationship in a matter-of-fact manner rather than feeling the need to overemphasise the character’s orientation in order to appear more tolerant; something many other well-meaning television shows do when presenting LGBT characters.

The overall theme of the episode appears to be compassion. The compassion Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) shows for Artie as she tries to help him save his sense of hearing contrasts with the broken and formerly compassionate relationship shared by Steve and his ex. The episode’s villain (as is so often the case with this show, the term is used very loosely) commits some grisly atrocities for compassionate reasons. There is an overall optimistic and light-hearted tone to this episode. As a result, the comedic aspects that normally feel out of place (like Pete’s childish jokes) feel a great deal more appropriate. Perhaps if Warehouse 13 permitted itself to adopt the tone of this particular episode more often, it could carve out a more distinctive identity for itself amongst procedural genre shows. However, some aspects of the episode suggest that the program is as flawed as ever. Most notable is that the episode’s creators clearly have no understanding of how lava works. At one point, Myka and Pete surf atop a car that is rolling through molten magma as if it’s thick mud. Apparently in the Warehouse 13 universe, car tires simply don’t melt. Whilst some might dismiss this as an unimportant nitpick, it’s not an overstatement to say that it completely takes the viewer out of the scene. One is no longer able to imagine that the characters are in any kind of peril. All the viewer sees is two actors pretending to dodge computer-generated lava. This is a huge problem with the episode because this sequence is supposed to be the epic finale. Despite the fact that the whole episode is clearly more whimsical in tone than most shows modern viewers are likely used to, the lava sequence is so utterly absurd that it essentially breaks the finale. Not uncommonly for Warehouse 13, Runaway is fun but flawed. Its faults, whilst not numerous, are pretty damaging and might make it a frustrating viewing for those more suited to similar programs (such as Supernatural or Fringe) that take themselves more seriously. The episode is ultimately a fun experience and one gets the distinct impression that fun is exactly what it was intended to be.

TV Review: Warehouse 13 – The Sky’s the Limit

WAREHOUSE 13 --  "The Sky's The Limit" Episode 414 -- Pictured: (l-r) Pete Lattimer as Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly as Myka Bering -- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Syfy)

The fourteenth episode of Warehouse 13’s fourth season, The Sky’s the Limit, features an imaginative plot with two distinct and interesting investigations for the now-sizable cast. The downside, however, is that the show retains its irritatingly immature and juvenile attempts at humour. For every observation that can be suggested in this episode’s favour, there is a childish joke attempting to give the characters a sense of charm and warmth. From its first season, it has been very evident that the creators of Warehouse 13 have been attempting (without success) to capture the snappy dialogue and humorous undertones of a Joss Whedon-penned science fiction programme. What results is intriguing narratives with some fascinating ideas constantly being ground to a halt to allow for an undeveloped gag that simply doesn’t work. In the case of this episode, the team is split apart to investigate two separate mysterious events- both of which seem to be the work of good people using the magical artefacts to do bad things- but it is impossible to become invested in what is happening because the plot keeps getting interrupted by silly jokes about cookies or strip clubs. The episode begins with Artie (Saul Rubinek) dispatching the two senior warehouse agents, Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) to Las Vegas to discover the story behind a man who seemingly fell to his death from out of the sky. It is not long before Pete and Myka are on the trail of an elderly Vegas magician who may have discovered an artefact that grants him real magical powers. The second investigation, progressing at the same time as the main Vegas plot, features Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Steve (Aaron Ashmore) travelling to Britain (that curiously resembles an American country club) to investigate a series of events involving horse-racing jockeys. The third and most minor sub-plot involves Artie being visited by a psychiatrist (Kelly Hu) whose assistance he refuses.

Both of the episode’s investigations are presented as fairly intriguing mysteries, complete with the usual red herrings and wrong turns. The Vegas plot boasts some very impressive special effects and the Britain plot is certainly amusing, if only to see how an American television show chooses to depict British people. However, both plots could have been significantly improved by revisions to the episode’s poor attempts at humour. Eddie McClintock delivers a strong performance as Pete but (as is the case with all his Warehouse 13 episodes) he is saddled with unfunny jokes that are meant to present him as a cocky yet endearing scoundrel but only manage to portray him as an overgrown man-child. Pete’s jokes are the sort of humour valued by a particularly crude child; lacking any sense of wit or timing. Similarly painful to watch is the snarky and sassy remarks of Claudia that are likely supposed to present her as a no-nonsense hard-case. Warehouse 13 is clearly intended to be a more light-hearted alternative to previous supernatural procedural dramas like Fringe or The X-Files. Unfortunately, the dialogue writers are not adept enough at humour or wit for the show to work successfully. The saving grace of the episode is Rubinek’s Artie. Artie’s sardonic and world-weary personality makes him an instantly more interesting character than the warehouse’s field agents. It is unfortunate that Artie is relegated to the background so heavily in this episode; especially when one considers the fact that his sub-plot introduces an entirely new character to the show (which already has a fairly significant cast size). Ultimately, the episode is too bogged down in unfunny jokes and failed attempts at snappy dialogue to become enjoyable.

Image reproduced from ksitetv.com