Warehouse 13 is one of those shows that I heard a lot about prior to the launch this summer, due mostly to my recent interest in all things Buffy (Jane Espenson and several other writers are the connection there, in case you’re curious).  I was not sure what to expect, but nonetheless I badly wanted to try it out.

I have now tried it out.  I am suitably impressed.

Warehouse 13 had the potential to be crappy.  Really, really crappy.  First of all, it’s a summer show, and thus not expected to reel in huge audiences of the sort garnered by regular season shows like Family Guy.  Second, the premise sounded cool but required some big assumptions.

Then again, pilots rarely win any awards and usually a show requires at least half a season to really get going.  Warehouse 13 has plenty of growing pains, I will say that.  The most recent episode (aired 8/4/09) ranks lowest of the five episodes aired thus far, at least in my view.  The second, third, and fourth episodes did rather well, especially for being so new.

Now, here’s what I like about the show.  It’s deep in every way possible.  Already we have pretty solid sketches of the three main characters as well as enough lurking questions to power plenty of developing plot exposition.  The premise is dark and mysterious, so I pray it doesn’t end up just being dumb.  I hate to be so vague, but I continue with my policy of no spoilers.  Pretty much everyone knows the basic idea, though, and so I shall elaborate further.  I initally heard Warehouse 13 described as “the place where they stored the Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones.”  While that seems like a pretty accurate description of the place, the show is far more than just that.  What if the Ark was real?  What if objects did have quasi-mystical power?

Many also described the show as being steampunk, or at least certain aspects of it.  That too seems true, in more ways than just the material.  Artie, the warehouse’s chief guardian and collector, has quite a nice collection of steampunk artifacts, including a nice computer case mod.  Beyond the artifacts themselves, though, is the very idea that artifacts exist.  Steampunk encompasses quasi-mystical, possibly magical, maybe technological stuff.  Many devices in a steampunk world are just beyond high technology, just far enough that they qualify as magic.  Many devices clearly blend the two, or draw little distinction.  And so it is with Warehouse 13.  I appreciate the approach, and it goes a long way to making the premise pretty solid.

So, with that I leave you.  I encourage all to check out Warehouse 13 for some excellent television in those rare off hours.  It’s on the SyFy channel at 9pm EST, or Hulu if you are busy or want to catch up on missed episodes.  Perhaps it will fuel some RPG material…