Last night I saw my first episode of ‘Warehouse 13.’ This is because we’ve changed our BT phone / broadband / TV package, and so have more channels. We still haven’t got the evil Sky-related packages, but we’ve got things like Watch and Syfy – the channels whose listings I’d find myself idly browsing and wondering about.
Time was, BBC 2 had a teatime slot for US fantasy shows. That’s how things like the latterday Star Treks and Farscape were seen in this country. Nowadays that doesn’t seem to be so, and people subscribe to all kinds of channels and seem au fait with series that I’ve never even heard of. It’s easy to feel terribly left out, even if – like me – you’re fond of dvd box sets. Actually, I try to make a virtue of that, usually saying that I prefer to watch shows in their boxset incarnation, rather than as a weekly serial, because then it’s more like reading a novel and you can take in as much or as little as you want at a single sitting. But I’m lying, of course. I’d love to watch shows as weekly instalments.
So now we have this thing called BT Infinity and Beyond! – or somesuch and, though on the whole it seems like a load of rip-off bollocks, it’s letting me dip into some of these shows that I haven’t been able to see before. And so, last night- Warehouse 13, which I learn is already onto season four. I’ve no idea where last night’s episode hails from, but everything seems to be well into its stride.
It seems to be about spooky objects that need to be locked away in a special place – for the good of all mankind. It reminds me – in look and outline – a little of ‘Sanctuary’, which was a gentler, friendlier version of ‘Torchwood’, I thought – with that show’s edgy pretensions rubbed off. Last night’s episode was about a deadly plague threatening all mankind and our heroes having to find a magical cure from a tomb deep underneath Paris with the aid of the legendary and still-living Count of Saint-Germain. Now, this was promising. I love anything about spooky old St Germain, and have longed to see him covered properly by a sf&f show. He’s always seemed a dead cert for Who, but they’ve never dipped into his story.
I love the fact that it was all slightly cheap, and the sheer banality of the menace being to do with everyone sweating like crazy. Watching on Syfy’s non-HD channel the picture is degraded to the point that it looks like it’s being broadcast live from the year 1991 and this, of course, pleases my retro heart. I love the fact that it’s all somewhat cheesy and chucked together – and yet at the same time displays such lovely inventiveness (while in the Paris strand they’re actually pulling the old Professor-turns-out-to-be-the-person-they’re-all-looking-for twist, another strand has other characters visiting the subconscious of their insensible friend.) It also has a wonderful guest cast with stellar cult tv credentials: Daphne’s lawyer boyfriend from ‘Frasier’, the original Bionic Woman Lindsey Wagner, Captain Janeway looking careworn and chunky and – somehow best of all – Buffy’s Spike looking pouchy, tetchy, badly-dyed and camper than ever.
Is every episode as much fun as this? Is it something I can take gradually, an episode at a time, dripfeeding the whole lot, or is it a box set to splurge on..? Experts out there – I’m sure you know.