WAREHOUSE 13. 9 tonight, Syfy.
THE CHANNEL Formerly Known as Sci Fi gets rebranded tonight, a bit of corporate silliness meant to lure viewers who still equate a love for science fiction with pocket protectors.
So it's Syfy behind tonight's two-hour premiere of "Warehouse 13," a light but undeniably sci-fi series about a pair of Secret Service agents whose job it is to help stock and secure a top-secret facility whose warm and fuzzy caretaker, Artie (Saul Rubinek) likes "to think of it as America's attic."
Or, a little more ominously, as a "supersized Pandora's box."
(The actual Pandora's box, he reveals, is warehoused from "Aisle 9a to 9b.")
In yet another twist on your tax dollars at work, Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly ("Vanished") play agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering, reluctant draftees in the war to keep objects in the warehouse from blowing up or otherwise causing big trouble for the rest of us.
How did they get so lucky?
The warehouse, Artie tells Myka, needs their combined strengths.
"He's intuitive, and you've got a scrupulous eye for detail. He's scattershot, see, and you're meticulous. You look, he leaps."
Sound like any couple we've met before?
The Mulder/Scully pairing, already reinvented for Fox's "Bones" - where McClintock, who guest-starred for several episodes, apparently helped himself to bits and pieces of David Boreanaz' character on the way out - may be a familiar one, but there's also more than a whiff of "Eureka," a show about another top-secret place with weird goings-on that returns to Sci Fi/Syfy on Friday.
And, OK, maybe a bit of the CW's "Reaper," too.
So what sets "Warehouse 13" apart?
Well, for one thing, the ferret.
Yes, there's a ferret. Possibly multiple ferrets.
Also, and far less incidentally, there's CCH Pounder ("The Shield") as the mysterious, and maybe ageless, Mrs. Frederic, the big boss behind the warehouse.
With her character working from Washington, D.C., Pounder doesn't get nearly enough to do in tonight's premiere, which, frankly, gets less compelling the further it gets from Artie and his treasure trove of oddball antiquities.
I gradually lost interest during the agents' first case together, which takes them on the road.
Here's hoping the assignments get better.
Because the warehouse itself is packed to the rafters with (sorry, Syfy) geeky fun.
Stuff to like in '10 Things'
It's been 10 years since Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles starred in "10 Things I Hate About You," but ABC Family's set-in-high school version of "The Taming of the Shrew," which premieres tonight at 8, still has some fun in it.
For that, we can partly thank the dependably wacky Larry Miller, who reprises his role as the overprotective, obstetrician father to daughters Kat (Lindsey Shaw) and Bianca Stratford (Meaghan Martin).
"It's the first day of school, so remember the most important thing: Don't get pregnant!" he reminds them in a call from the delivery room.
Daddy, we learn in the show's opening minutes, has the same rule for the TV show that he had for the movie: Bianca can't date until her sister Kat does.
And as you may remember, Kat's a little scary.
Not as scary, though, as Patrick Verona, the guy one of Bianca's suitors pays in the movie to take an interest in Kat. The role helped make the late Ledger a star outside Australia.
Here he's played, somewhat less formidably, by Ethan Peck, the actor grandson of Gregory Peck, whose character may not require an actual outlay of cash to pursue Kat, since in tonight's pilot he already seems intrigued by her.
"People say he knows the taste of human flesh," one classmate warns of the boy Kat refers to as "Captain Intensity," but Peck's bad-boy impression can't overcome his generically unthreatening looks.
He does have lovely eyes, though.
Bianca, I'm afraid, appears to be more of a twit than she did in the movie, making it difficult to root for her, but Shaw brings a nice edge to the much smarter Kat, who gets most of the good lines, anyway.
It's hard to say from one episode how the transition from movie to series will go, but producers have populated the show's Padua High - yes, the Shakespeare jokes just keep on coming - with interesting enough kids to make "10 Things" a more than watchable high school show, anyway. *
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