Tag Archives: Warehouse 13

Should SF Be More Optimistic?

A panel at Chicon 7 discussed whether science fiction has become too pessimistic. Dystopian dramas such as The Road, The Walking Dead, and I Am Legend seem to dominate today’s market. Is this a reflection of current societal woes, or a more widespread sense of doom towards the future by writers and producers? What part do readers and audiences play in contributing to the popularity of these darker stories?

My feeling is that modern science fiction is no more or less optimistic than it has ever been. Classics such as Metropolis, Dr. Strangelove, and Blade Runner have often painted cautionary pictures of the future, warning us of what might be, not what will be. I would argue that dystopian SF is generally more thought-provoking than utopian SF. The best literature relies on conflict to propel characters to change and grow. Utopian societies are often bland and uninteresting.

Things like Buck Rogers and Star Trek are loved by millions for their optimistic visions of technological innovation and political harmony, but even they have conflict to drive their stories. They are often criticized for their naïvety, too.

Taking a look at this year’s Hugo Award nominees, I see optimistic stories far outnumbering the dystopias. Among the novels, Deadline is really the only dystopia, and even it has an underlying optimism that says society will learn to deal with a zombie apocalypse with new medical testing and security technologies. Among the dramatic presentations, Game of Thrones could possibly be considered a pessimistic fantasy universe, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows certainly has some very dark moments before the forces of good spectacularly triumph over the forces of evil.

Last year saw pessimistic films such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Contagion, but they were more than countered by generally optimistic offerings such as Source Code, Captain America, X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Thor, Cowboys and Aliens, and Paul.

Science fiction TV has been dominated for several years by Doctor Who, the ultimate in optimism. Battlestar Galactica was certainly dark, but depicted the eventual triumph of humans. I think one reason Terra Nova failed was that audiences were not attracted to a world where running away from a dystopian society was encouraged rather than staying and working to improve it. Meanwhile, shows like Eureka, Alphas, and Warehouse 13 continue to offer lighthearted SF adventure.

To me, no matter how dark or depressing a science fiction story is, there is a fundamental optimism inherent in all science fiction. After all, science fiction (at least the majority that’s set in the future) imagines that there will be a future for mankind. You can’t get much more optimistic than that!

For Your Consideration: Hugo Award Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

The deadline for nominating works for the Hugo Awards is March 11, 2012. Members (as of January 31, 2012) of Renovation, Chicon 7, or LoneStarCon 3 are eligible to nominate. For the Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category, I have compiled a list of productions that are eligible to be nominated this year. It is a long list, and undoubtedly not comprehensive. My purpose is to remind nominators that there are worthy productions that do not have Doctor Who or Game of Thrones in their names.

I’ve listed the titles of individual episodes because the Hugo rules require individual episodes to be nominated. A multi-part production such as Game of Thrones or Torchwood: Miracle Day can be nominated in the Long Form category if nominators feel that the mini-series should be taken as a whole, rather than as individual episodes. The dividing line between Short Form and Long Form is 90 minutes running time, but may be adjusted slightly one way or another if a majority of nominators place a borderline work in the other category.

I haven’t made up my mind what I’m going to nominate, other than I will definitely be nominating The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, a terrific short film (available as a free download from iTunes). My expectation is that one or more episodes of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones will be nominated no matter what, so I will use my nominations for more obscure works that can fill in the remaining slots.

For your consideration:

Adam And Dog (Short Film) [winner of the Annie Award for Best Animated Short]

Adventure Time (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Mystery Trainx

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Alphas (TV Series)
Episode: Original Sin

American Horror Story (TV Series)
Episode: Smoldering Children

The Ballad Of Nessie (Short Film)

Batman: The Brave and the Bold (TV Series)
Episode: Mitefall!

Batman: Year One (Direct-to-Video) [nominated for an Annie Award]

Being Human (TV Series)
Episode: Though the Heavens Fall

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien (TV Series)
Episode: Prisoner #775 Is Missing

The Big Bang Theory (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: The Good Guy Fluctuation

Camelot (TV Series)
Episode: Reckoning

Community (TV Series)
Episode: Remedial Chaos Theory [a humorous take on parallel dimensions]

Doctor Who (TV Series)
Episode: The Doctor’s Wife

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Eureka (TV Series)
Episode: One Giant Leap…

The Event (TV Series)
Episode: Arrival

The Fades (TV Series)
Episode: Episode #1.4

Falling Skies (TV Series)
Episode: What Hides Beneath

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore(Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award]

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Fringe (TV Series)
Episode: The Day We Died

Futurama (TV Series)
Episode: All The President’s Heads

Game of Thrones (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Baelor

Generator Rex (TV Series)
Episode: Ben 10/Generator Rex Heroes United

Green Lantern: The Animated Series (TV Series) [nominated for an Annie Award]
Episode: Beware My Power, Parts 1 and 2

Grimm (TV Series)
Episode: Danse Macabre

Haven (TV Series)
Episode: Sins of the Fathers

Hoops & Yoyo Ruin Christmas (TV Special) [nominated for an Annie Award]

I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat (Short Film) [nominated for an Annie Award]

La Luna (Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award and an Annie Award]

Lost Girl (TV Series)
Episode: Barometz. Trick. Pressure

The Mercury Men (Web Series)
Episode: The Battery

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Merlin (TV Series)
Episode: The Darkest Hour, Parts 1 and 2

A Morning Stroll (Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award]

No Ordinary Family (TV Series)
Episode: No Ordinary Powell

Once Upon a Time (TV Series)
Episode: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Outcasts (TV Series)
Episode: Episode #1.4

Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice (TV Special) [nominated for an Annie Award]

Primeval (TV Series)
Episode: Episode #4.1

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Robot Chicken (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Robot Chicken’s DP Christmas Special

Sanctuary (TV Series)
Episode: Into the Black

The Simpsons (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Treehouse of Horror XXII

Smallville (TV Series)
Episode: Finale

Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II (Web Series)
Episode: Enemy: Starfleet!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV Series)
Episode: Carnage of Krell

Stargate Universe (TV Series)
Episode: Gauntlet

Steins;Gate (TV Series)
Episode: Prologue to the Beginning and End

South Park (TV Series) [nominated for an Emmy Award]
Episode: Crack Baby Athletic Association

Sunday (Dimanche) (Short Film) [nominated for an Academy Award]

Supernatural (TV Series)
Episode: The French Mistake

Teen Wolf (TV Series)
Episode: Code Breaker

Terra Nova (TV Series)
Episode: Resistance

Thundercats (TV Series)
Episode: New Alliances

Torchwood (TV Series)
Episode: Miracle Day: The New World

Transformers Prime (TV Series)
Episode: One Shall Rise, Parts 1, 2, and 3

True Blood (TV Series)
Episode: You Smell Like Dinner

Ugly Americans (TV Series)
Episode: Callie and Her Sister

V (TV Series)
Episode: Mother’s Day

The Vampire Diaries (TV Series)
Episode: The Reckoning

The Venture Bros. (TV Series)
Episode: From the Ladle to the Grave: The Shallow Gravy Story

The Walking Dead (TV Series)
Episode: Pretty Much Dead Already

Warehouse 13(TV Series)
Episode: Emily Lake

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Wolverine (TV Series)
Episode: Kikyo

Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13
“Emily Lake/Stand” written by Nell Scovell & Ian Stokes and Andrew Kreisberg & Drew Z. Greenberg; directed by Millicent Shelton and Stephen Surjik

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Spoilers ahead!

Warehouse 13 is a fairly lighthearted science fiction detective series. Imagine the vast government warehouse repository of all things magical and evil at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. That is essentially what Warehouse 13 is. Why 13? It’s the thirteenth such warehouse constructed over the centuries in various locations around the world. Warehouse 13 is in the remote badlands of South Dakota. Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) are the principal field agents who track down and recover lost and stolen artifacts. Their boss is grumpy Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek), and they are assisted by computer genius Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti). This season another agent, Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore), came on board when Myka (temporarily) resigned. The team is sometimes helped and sometimes hindered by former Warehouse 12 agent H. G. Wells (Jaime Murray). That’s Helena Wells, who ghost-wrote the famous novels for her brother and was revived after a century of suspended animation. Rounding out the semi-regulars is Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder), a mysterious “regent” who supervises the entire Warehouse operation.

The two-hour third season finale of Warehouse 13 was a taut thriller that brought significant changes to the series. Last year’s finale with Myka leaving the team was unsatisfying because you knew she would return. There are no guarantees after what happened this year.

In the previous three episodes we learned that Pete’s mother, Jane Lattimer (Kate Mulgrew), was a regent and former Warehouse field agent who had recovered a bracelet artifact from paraplegic Walter Sykes (Anthony Michael Hall), that enabled him to be a star athlete. A side effect of the bracelet was that he became an evil psychopath who vowed revenge. The finale culminated Sykes’ plan to recover the bracelet, kill Jane, and destroy Warehouse 13 while Myka, Pete, and the rest raced to capture him.

What Myka and Pete didn’t know was that Mrs. Frederic’s plan was to install Jinks as a double agent into Sykes’ organization. This caused considerable confusion, especially with Claudia who had grown close to Jinks. Jinks’ death at Sykes’ hand at the end of “Emily Lake” was a true emotional inflection point. The team rallied together (“Stand”) to defeat Sykes and avenge Jinks. But Sykes had one last trick, even in death, to destroy Warehouse 13 and all its agents. H. G. ended up sacrificing her life to save the others, except Mrs. Frederic.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out next season. Claudia retrieved an artifact from Sykes that could enable her to bring Jinks back to life. But will she? Would Jinks want to be zombified? I don’t think so. Or, the artifact could be used to resurrect Mrs. Frederic, but considering how she shriveled up when she died, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Of all the characters that died in this episode, I’m going to miss Mrs. Frederic the most. CCH Pounder’s wise and mysterious portrayal of Mrs. Frederic was always a treat. H. G. has escaped several death traps before, so I have a hunch we haven’t seen the last of her, if only in flashbacks. Of course, there is a spin-off series in the works to feature H. G.’s exploits, so one way or another we will get to see Jaime Murray continue her intriguing character.

The warehouse was severely damaged at the end of the first season, only to be quickly rebuilt. But the utter destruction at the end of “Stand” is another matter. Will there be a new Warehouse 14? Or will Artie use his stopwatch artifact to reverse time? If he does, it could have dark repercussions. Will Jane be able to do anything to ameliorate the devastation when she returns, and will she replace Mrs. Frederic? Whichever way the series goes next year, it should be fascinating.

The SyFy Channel is becoming known for prematurely canceling series. I hope that the ratings for Warehouse 13 are strong enough to keep it going for many years. Certainly, the news of a spin-off bodes well for the popularity of the franchise. The real strength of Warehouse 13 is its character interactions. All of the actors are having a good time working with each other, and it shows. It is also one of the few shows of any kind on any network that has such a strong female presence. Luckily, there will be a Christmas episode in December to tide us over until the fourth season begins next summer.