'Warehouse 13' stocks up on ideas from other shows

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Joanne Kelly as Myka Bering, Saul Rubinek as

Joanne Kelly as Myka Bering, Saul Rubinek as Artie Nelsen, Eddie McClintock as Pete Lattimer in "Warehouse 13" on Syfy. Photo Credit: Syfy Photo

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Why watch "Warehouse 13"? Something for everybody in the family: Secret agents chase superpowered artifacts to return them for safekeeping in the (top secret) title repository. Along the way, historical-figures' artifacts act up, villains plot to grab power, victims get entangled, special effects run wild, and Our Heroes bicker, quip and zap cool gadgets.

The cliffhanger: Mismatched agents Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) were trying to save edgy warehouse overseer Artie (Saul Rubinek) from his dastardly ex-partner (Roger Rees) and apparently turncoat punk assistant (Allison Scagliotti). The ex-partner had been "bronzed" into suspended animation, then "unbronzed," which set off a chain of events designed to self-destruct the warehouse, starting with incinerating Artie.

This season: Is Artie dead or alive? Or rather how is he dead or alive? There are always more possibilities in a world full of durational spectrometers, density alteration and magical shape-shifting thimbles. And a world where legendary fantasist H.G. Wells springs back to life as - nope, no spoilers from us.

Wells isn't the only namecheck here, with Rasputin, "Young Frankenstein," Bruce Lee and more referenced in the season's busy first two episodes. After this week's mythology tale, the show goes more stand-alone July 13 as a comic-book hero morphs into real-life action in Detroit.

Future episodes are stuffed with genre guest stars like Lindsay Wagner, Rene Auberjonois and David Anders.

My say: They say sci-fi is an acquired taste, kind of like liquor. So mainstream-aimed shows like "Warehouse 13" cut it, as in watering it down. Syfy's escapist hit plays its adventures so relentlessly "light" that there's little danger, tension or sense to be found.

But there is action, always action, stuff happening, quips spouting, effects exploding. "Warehouse" seems to borrow from more than 13 shows - some "X-Files" here, some "Bones" there, some "Friday the 13th" and "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones." And, heaven forbid, Shakespeare, if you count an Ophelia joke, that is, as in "O-pheel-yer" upper body parts.

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That's the sensibility here, where even the alleged adults act like 15-year-olds. (Do not! Do so!) Which might at least seem dynamic if the actors weren't so blandly minor league, with ditto dialogue like "I'm diggin' the iron vest, it brings out your eyes." (No way! Yes, way!)

Bottom line: "Warehouse 13" remains a cut-rate amalgam of everything, designed to appeal to everybody, from steampunk die-hards (geeks) to rom-com lovers (women) to effects fanatics (kids). It's all vaguely familiar and spirited enough to look like shiny summer fare. Just don't scratch the surface.

The show: "Warehouse 13" Season 2 premieres Tuesday at 9 on Syfy (after 3-9 p.m. encore of Season 1 episodes).

Grade: B-

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