Syfy may not quite understand the concept of re-branding (So you actually went with the y’s. Really.) but they definitely understand the concept of summer, offering us for our viewing pleasure “Warehouse 13,” a fantasy-action serial as lightly thrilling as the sound of the Good Humor man’s bell on a drowsy afternoon.
“The X-Files” meets “Fringe” by way of “The Librarian” with a little “Indiana Jones” and maybe even “Bones” thrown in for good measure, “Warehouse 13" is unapologetically and delightfully derivative, happily plucking the best stuff from our favorite shows and leaving all the heaviness behind. In this loud and angry world of post-mythology and damaged heroes, how nice to see a television show satisfied with being simply entertaining.
Here’s the pitch: Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) are a pair of good-lookin’ “He Said, She Said” FBI agents -- he’s intuitive, she’s a stickler -- heading up security during a presidential visit to the Museum of Natural History. After they manage to save the president’s life from a mysterious blood-leaking idol that causes a lab technician to become a murderous zombie (don’t you love it already?), they are approached by the mysterious Mrs. Frederic (“The Shield’s” CCH Pounder, always a pleasure). She sends them on a mission to the Badlands of South Dakota where they find the adorable but equally mysterious Artie (Saul Rubinek providing teddy-bear crush-fodder for geek girls everywhere), who introduces them to Warehouse 13.
Here is where that bloodthirsty idol head is being stored, along with acres and acres of every haunted, magical, mystical, inexplicable artifact you’ve ever heard of -- Pandora’s box, for instance -- and many you have not. Think of the warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant was stored after Indiana Jones recovered it and cross it with the similarly stocked library of the “Librarian” series (I believe they claim to have Pandora’s box as well) and you’ve got it.
Pete, being a boy-man, is totally psyched, but Myka, being a tightly wound ambition freak (“I don’t eat sugar,” she growls when Artie offers her an oatmeal scotchie) wants out. As in yesterday.
Meanwhile, they are introduced to Leena (Genelle Williams, the hot young B&B; proprietor who appears to be psychic, and their new job: to locate, recover and deactivate any talisman or household item that appears to be acting up. To do this, they must dump it in a cylinder of purple goo. (If nothing else, we now know where all that Dippity Doo wound up.)
Their first mission is to discover what is causing a friendly Iowa teen to slug his girlfriend. I won’t breathe a word of what is behind the subsequent mayhem except to say it is campy, almost historically informative and hilarious. As the case unfolds, Myka realizes that what seems silly and far-fetched is Really Important and Pete discovers that she isn’t such an ice princess after all.
Nothing you haven’t seen before, but the dialogue is snappy and everyone seems to be having a marvelous time, except of course the poor saps being possessed by whatever magical ephemera is in the spotlight this week.
“Warehouse 13" has no Cancer Man, no irritating prophesy, no need to bludgeon viewers with lessons in mortality and morality. The warehouse is warm and cozy with its Oriental rugs and Victorian lighting, Rubinek’s Artie steals every scene he is in, and McClintock and Kelly provide a happy friction that promises great things.
What more could you ask for on a summer night?
When: 9 tonight
Rating: TV-14-LV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language and violence)