From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

TV Review – Warehouse 13: “Resonance” and Eureka: “Your Face or Mine?”

Warehouse 13: “Resonance”

Dear Warehouse 13,

Why do you suck? You have such a great premise and there are cool visual images and little background details that are fun tidbits. The actors appear to be trying to find a way to create compelling characters. You were co-created by Jane Espenson, a writer who built her pop-culture reputation on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hopefully this is a well deserved reputation and not one that was built on the coattails of Joss Whedon (she’s also worked on Eureka, Battlestar Galactica, Gilmore Girls, Firefly, and Angel). There is a lot to like around the periphery of the show, so why do you suck?

You suck because despite surrounding yourself with a bunch of cool steampunky gadgets and a fun premise, you are vapid and empty at your core. Your characters are all *almost* likeable, but not quite. They make crazy leaps of intuition, but when in a crisis they make stupid decisions — and not just poor decisions like regular people make poor decisions, but stupid decisions that belie the fact that these were former Secret Service agents assigned to a Presidential Detail. By the very nature of their position and training, these agents would not make many of these stupid decisions (Myka’s lack of action near the end of “Resonance” is a perfect example of this). Conceptually your ideas for stories (one and a half, so far) aren’t bad, but your execution is weak.

You suck because like any other bad show, you fail to garner the interest of the viewer with your shiny objects. Your dialogue is poor and your musical cues are actually distracting at best and inappropriate at worst. “Oh Yeah”? I’m sorry, Warehouse 13, but Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has the iconic use of that song in a visual medium and did it more than twenty years ago. I’ve met Ferris Bueller, and you sir, are no Ferris Bueller.

You suck because you have no soul.

You have potential, Warehouse 13, because you *do* have a solid premise and presumably the actors you hired to portray Myka and Peter can, in fact, act. I understand that you are in your growing pains and still finding your voice, but having a near sci-fi premise is not enough to earn you a sci-fi audience. Do better.

You do have potential, Warehouse 13, so please stop sucking. We will quit you. We won’t look and one day, a couple of years from now, we’ll all be at a party somewhere and say “you remember that Warehouse 13? That show really sucked”. We’ll notice you standing alone near the pretzels, and we’ll quickly look away, ashamed that we ever watched you. Nobody wants this. Please get better. You can start next week. What do you say?

Sincerely,
The people who will ignore you at parties.

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, here’s a little recap / something of the second episode, “Resonance”.

A bank robber opens his jacket, plays some sort of music that nobody can hear or remember. When a recording of it (caught via cell phone) is played for a witness, she cries, doesn’t remember listening to it, but says she feels loved. Myka and Pete investigate, figure out (with the help Arthur) what music is being played and who created it, and work to solve case and prevent more robberies. Yadda.

There’s pointless stuff at the beginning of the episode. Why is Peter playing ping pong with himself and somehow mocking himself while doing so? On one hand it is a semi-cool scene, but on the other…what purpose does it serve? There’s plot stuff later on and the occasional hint as to what the deal is.

One of my problems is that the lead characters are just not likeable. Actually, at this point, nobody is. Not the leads, the side characters, not the guests to be interrogated.

That’s half the problem. The other half is that the presentation of the story and the situations just is not all that interesting. There’s very little to hook the viewer. By the midpoint of “Resonance”, the second episode of the show, I’m about ready to pull the plug. I honestly don’t care about the hows and whys regarding the crime. The episode takes too long to get moving into the investigation and the characters aren’t strong enough to carry the show without plot.

The episode’s logic, such as it is, gets worse as it progresses. Myka — the one agent with an opportunity to do something — yeah, she doesn’t. She fights with her fists, and then later when she could stop the whole thing — she does nothing. Does she not have a firearm?

This show is just chock full of stupid. Do yourself a favor. Just go watch something else. Anything.

Eureka: “Your Face or Mine”

Finally, an episode that focuses on the awesomeness that is Deputy Jo Lupo. She is the first test case of some crazy hyper scientific device that could be a huge boon to security and it all goes wrong. When she stops screaming and she wakes up, Jo is changed. With Carter unavailable doing some sort of test (one which Lupo already aced), Jo Lupo is acting Sheriff and acting weird. After the shock from the test Jo is no longer the super-serious and competent woman she was. Rather, she’s flighty and unreliable and ends up singing Karaoke torch songs and kissing Fargo. Fargo! She’s out of control.

Now, things aren’t nearly as simple as all that. This is Eureka and there is a strange scientific explanation as to what and why. That’s great, but “Your Face or Mine” isn’t quite delivering the goods in terms of character moments (the strength of the show). Carter is off doing his own thing, and thus not interacting with anyone. I love Jo Lupo, but she can’t carry the show. Hmm, let me amend that. She can’t carry the show with the dueling personalities here. I think she can carry an episode with regular Jo Lupo personality.

This isn’t the strongest episode of Eureka, and coming as the second episode of a short season, it’s a little disappointing that this was how the writers chose to continue the season. With a short season, viewers might reasonably expect a story arc to unfold and that most episodes would progress the story arc. “Your Face or Mine” doesn’t do that. It gives Jo some face time, which is inherently a good thing, but it doesn’t live up to the billing.

See, the best moment of the episode was the closing shot of Carter and Lupo walking and talking. It’s the people, damn it.

“Your Face or Mine” was just okay, and entirely because it was an episode of Eureka. Eureka can, has, and will do better, but this was still a good way to spend an hour on a Friday night.

Take a lesson from this, Warehouse 13. Even when Eureka doesn’t fire on all cylinders it is still worth watching.

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