A friend has been pestering me to check out a SyFy series he adores called Warehouse 13, and I have been dreading having to reply.  After reading Nancy Franklin’s upbeat review in the New Yorker, I had already given it a shot, and it was awful.  The good parts were weak, and the bad parts were strong.  It’s like going to a fancy restaurant and getting a rotten steak with a pretty garnish.

This series should have had a lot to charm me, reportedly having a good balance of humorous dialogue, funky characters, and unusual situations.  The theme and structure sounded like a pastiche of the X-Files, based on the last scene of Indiana Jones, but I was told the show goes far beyond its sources; it is its own thing, and a very pleasant thing at that.  Okay, sounds great!  Let’s watch!

Unfortunately, I caught what is probably the episode most likely to deter me from ever watching again.  The main character was having tender moments with herself.  If there is one thing guaranteed to bring out the worst in me, it’s the “Tender Moments With Myself” montage.

The main character stares at herself in the mirror.  She gets ready for work (embarks on a solo voyage, drinks a cup of General Foods International Coffee) while staring at the sunset (sunrise, children playing, ocean off her balcony) while looking deeply troubled (pensive, confused, constipated.)  The audience is subjected to violin swells, flashbacks, cloying song lyrics, and internal narratives in voice over.  The main character is usually facing a super tough problem, such as trying to make a relationship work even though the guy’s Not Perfect, going back to the job she signed up for even though Work Is Hard, standing up for herself even though Some People Are Just Plain Mean, and other obvious, after-school-special-type choices.

During this plodding detour from the story line, any tension built in the previous scene melts away.  No change takes place, no character is developed, no mood is established.  Nothing of substance is learned about the plot.  Most importantly, there is no potential outcome in which is she is not the same mush-minded, self-adoring lamebrain confounded by whatever non-issue is functioning as a MacGuffin for the episode. Boredom and nausea are more likely to be elicited than empathy or awareness.  It may be an attempt to showcase the looks or appeal of the actress, but it just comes across as laziness.

Or last-minute filler.  Did you lose a sponsor?  Do you need to replace a couple of commercials?  Start playing some soul-searchin’ pseudo-music.  Put your heroine in a robe, make her clutch an oversized mug to display her tapering, manicured hands, then have her cock her head and give a wistful, pursed-lip frown.  Cast your eyes heavenward, then down, and then to the side; oh, alas, alackaday!  But it’s not the Pieta; it’s not even Marmee March.  It’s just Jan Brady, furrowing her little brow.  Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

In Warehouse 13, Myka is the main character, and the albatross around the show’s neck.  The mawkish internal monologue was not an aberration.  Her every scene was drenched in the syrup of earnest looks and tragic tones.  The mild, somewhat pleasant interplay between the other characters is no match for the leaden leitmotif of Myka’s simpering reaction shots. It’s a parody of every single Very Special Episode I’ve ever seen.   It made me want to fling something at the TV, call my congressman, and write a letter to Ralph Nader about the dangers of overexposure to hazardous material.  It obviously led me to overuse modifiers.

Now, I like internal narratives, especially involving Mickey Spillane, and my favorite voiceover starts with the phrase, “Captain’s Log.”  Of course, they can’t all be that good.  But I get the strong feeling this show’s bible requires Myka to display at least three variations of Tragic Bravery per episode.  And that is too much castor oil in one sitting.

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