How many times has a friend tried to get you to watch a TV show and has uttered the words, “Once you get past the first season it’s great?” So many shows seem to fall into the “first season sucks” category. Sci-fi shows, in particular, seem prone to this phenomenon.
For me, Warehouse 13 falls into this category. I’m not saying that the first season sucked. On the contrary, the first season was fairly good. I’m just saying that in comparison the second season blows the first out of the water.
Let’s start out with what Season 1 had going for it. The first is Saul Rubinek. The man is genius, pure and simple. From the get go Rubinek gives us a wonderfully complex character. Artie Nielsen is mysterious, in charge, the wise scholar and yet he’s bumbling with personal insecurities. There are layers to Artie that can’t be written into a script. These layers can only be created by the actor and Rubinek does it with ease. Artie’s mannerisms and characteristics could very easily make the character unbelievable, stereotypical and cheesy. However, Rubinek’s considerable acting chops make Artie feel real like a long lost uncle. He makes you want to hug him, pure and simple.
The second thing Season 1 had going for it was chemistry. We saw it between Ben Browder and Claudia Black in Farscape and between Amanda Tapping and Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate: SG-1. When two actors click, they click. It has nothing to do with how the characters are written. Good writing only gets you so far. Once you bring actors into the mix they bring to life the subtleties of the characters. Writers can create characters to have a particular relationship but it’s the actors that need to have a natural chemistry together to make the relationship believable. Eddie McClintock (Pete Lattimer) and Joanne Kelly (Myka Bering) have that chemistry. They click.
In Season 1 there was clearly unresolved sexual tension between Pete and Myka. They were feeling each other out, testing the waters, like all new partners do. They needed to figure out their boundaries, develop trust and a friendship. My guess is that as we were watching Pete and Myka form a friendship, McClintock and Kelly were doing the same thing. Comparing Season 1 to Season 2, you can watch that friendship developing not only on screen but clearly off as well. These actors like each other. They get along. You can imagine them going out after work and grabbing a beer.
Season 1 also contained a few things that were, quite frankly, a turn off. They lost Lord Monkeypants in particular, at the first episode when Artie used the zip-line to travel to a faraway part of the warehouse. I have to agree with him. It’s pretty unbelievable that a man in his sixties would use a zip-line to travel across the warehouse. Aside from that, with all of the advancements in technology wouldn’t someone have developed a better way to get around the warehouse? Granted, it likely wouldn’t be as much fun as a zip-line, but it would be more practical because once you get to where you’re going, how do you get back?
Another downer for Season 1, at least for me, was the villain: James MacPherson (Roger Rees). I just didn’t care! I know that’s hard to say. MacPherson played such a big role in Season 1 and gave a great backstory as Artie’s former partner that I really should have cared what evil things he was up to. However, without any real motivation for his evil ways, I found it difficult to be anything but indifferent about what he was up to next. To me, he was like that annoying kid who sits in the back of the classroom and pulls the hair of the girl in front of him. He was irritating, dangerous but irritating.
So while I watched Season 1 mildly interested in the actual show and more interested in watching Pete and what Myka was wearing, I went into Season 2 with a sigh and low expectations. I was expecting more of the same. Boy was I wrong! Season 2 has far surpassed any of my preconceived notions. The characters are settled both in their relationships and their personalities. Pete and Myka have developed a strong and witty friendship. While there is a noted appreciation there for the opposite sex, we know as viewers that they are nothing more than friends and it works. I don’t feel any desire to see them hook up. I like the characters just the way they are.
There are two characters that have really surprised me this season. The first is Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti). I admit it. I thought she was obnoxious in Season 1. Like Kate Freelander in Season 2 of Sanctuary, I wanted her to go away. She was irritating and it seemed as though the writers wrote her that way. In Season 2 we see Claudia really come into her own. She figures out who she is and settles into her role in the Warehouse. She also develops a closer relationship with Artie that’s nothing short of endearing. We also see her interacting with Pete and Myka more on the friend level than on the irritating sidekick level. Season 2 has made Claudia witty and very enjoyable to watch. We see her fall in love, get dumped and even have a little fling with Eureka’s Fargo (Neil Grayston).
Since MacPherson sadly (note the sarcasm) bit the big one at the beginning of Season 2, Warehouse 13 naturally needed a new baddie. Enter H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray)! H.G. is charming, British, genius and…a woman! Honestly, every time I see Jaime Murray I have to do a double take because she looks a lot like Claudia Black. Murray is brilliant as H.G. We see a genuine villain with a reason for revenge. After all, she was bronzed for one hundred years. Don’t be fooled. H.G. isn’t a one sided character, not by a long shot. She’s multidimensional and as the season progresses we as the viewers are forced to humanize her. For those of you who haven’t seen Season 2 yet, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with H.G. Wells.
So if you’re new to Warehouse 13 and you’re finding Season 1 to be a bit of a drag, don’t worry! Season 2 will have you pleasantly surprised. The Season 2 Finale airs September 21st on SyFy. Check your local listings!