This is a big week for the cable network that began broadcasting on September 24, 1992, for on July 7th Sci Fi Channel becomes Syfy. Admittedly, I wasn’t too keen on the name change when it was first announced, but now understanding the reasoning behind it (giving the channel it’s own, unique brand) and having had time to let it sink in, I think it was the right move and I kinda like it. To go along with the name change, Syfy has two premieres this week. Hit show Eureka resumes it’s third season after a very long ten months on hiatus and new original series Warehouse 13 arrives with a two-hour debut.
Warehouse 13 – Tuesdays at 9:00PM
First up is Warehouse 13, premiering on July 7th and airing on Tuesdays. The series stars Eddie McClintock as Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer, Joanne Kelly as Pete’s fellow Secret Service agent Myka Bering, Saul Rubinek as Artie Nielsen, with CCH Pounder as Mrs. Fredric and Allison Scagliotti as Claudia Donovan on a recurring basis. Things kick off when off-the-cuff Pete and Myka, his by-the-book partner save the President’s life from a very unusual assassination attempt. As a reward for their unflappability in the face of something possibly mystical or supernatural the two are…recruited by the mysterious Mrs. Fredric who has them reassigned. The pair arrive at a location in the middle of nowhere where they find a nondescript warehouse. They also meet Artie Nielsen, the agent in charge of Warehouse 13. Artie shows Pete and Myka the real Warehouse 13, an underground bunker which houses all of the supernatural objects that the government has procured over the years. And that’s when the agents learn what their new assignment is, to find and take into custody like objects that are still in the wild. With no training, but some nifty equipment via Artie, the two agents set off on their first mission and thus begins the first episode.
Warehouse 13 is one of those shows that may vaguely remind you of other genre series, but it doesn’t pretend to be any of them. It certainly sounds a little X-Files-ish, but it far less creepy and more sure of its direction. It could be a successor to Middleman, but is much less self-deprecatingly campy and never knowingly winks at the audience. In the end, Warehouse 13 is its own show and starts off strongly enough that it doesn’t need t orest on the laurels of classics-gone-by. Besides, it stars Saul Rubinek, which is what sold me on the show sight unseen. The press screener the Syfy sent around did not have completed special effects, graphics or music, which is great as a reviewer as you can really see if the acting and characters can hold of the show without whiz-bang computer graphics. McClintock, Kelly and Rubinek are not rookie actors and they all show that they are more than capable of making their characters believable as well as not looking overly hokey when reacting to things that aren’t there. Rubinek is especially skilled at playing the eccentric Artie that may have spent just a little too much time in the Warehouse. McClintock and Kelly have some great, non-forced chemistry and it will be interesting to see how the their two characters develop together. That’s not to say this episode is without flaws as there are definitely some rough edges here and there. There is some stilted dialog, a convenience here or there in the plot and the main characters could use a little more development, but all those things would only be a deal breaking were this a middle of the season episode. Being the premiere, the roughness should be forgiven. It’s up to the cast and crew to follow this up by quickly cleaning things up and propelling us forward on an interesting ride. I think Warehouse 13 certainly will.
Eureka Season 3.5 – Fridays at 9:00PM
I can’t believe its been ten months, give or take a week or two, since the last new episode of Eureka season three, but Friday, July 10th finally sees the triumphant return of this sorely missed series. I really don’t understand why the channel put Eureka on such a long hiatus. It certainly can’t be good for its ratings or chances of coming back for another season. I sincerely hope these last ten episodes of the third are not the last of the entire series. But I digress (with apologies to Peter David). When last we left things, Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) had been fired as sheriff of the town and Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) revealed she was pregnant. The first new episode continues from there as Carter’s replacement shows up and Jack and his daughter Zoe face leaving Eureka behind. Of course, being Eureka, something goes scientifically awry and Jack Carter can’t resist getting involved. Those concerned about Carter being reinstated won’t get any confirmation from me, but bear in mind that the next episode, airing July 17th, is not only directed by Colin Ferguson, but the secondary plot heavily involves the former sheriff.
If Syfy had to give Eureka a rest, they at least mark the return with two incredibly strong episodes. Both weeks greatly showcase the things that make this show unique and interesting. Each has a central problem that is intriguing with a satisfying resolution. But what makes Eureka a unique show is that the central mystery is almost a MacGuffin that provides a template for the quirky humor and character interactions we’ve all come to love. The first eight episodes of this season went in a markedly soap opera-esque direction, but thankfully that as been set aside. Every character gets to show who they are and why they are important to the show and the scripts are as sharp, witty and clever as they ever have been. The July 10th mid-season premiere will quickly remind you why you love this show and is like a favorite friend stopping by for an extended visit. Eureka has hit its stride and I hope viewers haven’t forgotten it.