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Published: Saturday, 7/4/2009

Sci Fi Channel unveils silly new name, silly new series

BY ROB OWEN
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

They can change the name of the network but evidently not their often-bland programming.

Sci Fi Channel rebrands itself as Syfy next week, a silly name that s appropriate for silly new show Warehouse 13, which has its two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Like other Sci Fi shows of the recent past (think: Eureka), Warehouse 13 begins with a strong concept and suffers from weak execution.

Remember the warehouse where they stored the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? Warehouse 13 essentially picks up that notion of a giant, secret repository for artifacts and carries it through as an X-Files-light TV series.

Odd-couple Secret Service agents Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock, Ned & Stacey) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly, The Dresden Files) get assigned to Warehouse 13 by the mysterious, never-aging Mrs. Frederic (recurring guest star CCH Pounder, slumming after The Shield), whose power supersedes that of their Secret Service boss.

Officious Myka takes the assignment as a slap in the face Warehouse 13 is located in South Dakota after protecting the president in Washington. The more laid-back Pete takes it in stride.

Unbunch your panties and make the best out of a bad situation, he advises her.

Warehouse caretaker Artie (Saul Rubinek, the Jesse Stone movies) welcomes the Bickersons and gives them a tour of the facility, which appears to stretch for miles.

I like to think of it as America s attic, Artie says of Warehouse 13. (Wait, isn t the Smithsonian s National Museum of American History considered America s attic ?)

Artie gives Pete and Myka their first assignment: Figure out why a mild-mannered Iowa college student beat up his girlfriend. The agents make like Mulder and Scully and soon find they re tasked with retrieving an object with supernatural powers and bringing it back to Warehouse 13 for safe storage.

The script for the pilot is credited to Brent More, Jane Espenson, and David Simkins. Espenson wrote for Battlestar Galactica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and her fingerprints are nowhere to be found on the finished product: no sparkling dialogue or surprising plot turns. Warehouse 13 has more in common with executive producer Simkins Dresden Files, another lackluster Sci Fi entry.

With every new show, Sci Fi seems intent on proving that its best shows Battlestar Galactica, Farscape are exceptions and not the rule, which is a terrible disappointment from a network that s supposed to be dedicated to promoting the imagination. Too often Warehouse 13 comes off like a mash-up of leftover parts from better series (X-Files, Moonlighting, and a hint of Lost), and in its premiere never manages to distinguish itself as a show worth watching.

New teen series adds some quality to ABC

Among late-1990s teen movies, 10 Things I Hate About You has a better reputation than its peers. Ten years later, that also holds true for a new ABC Family TV series based on the movie.

Here are 10 things to know about the new half-hour show, premiering at 8 p.m. Tuesday:

1. 10 Things is easily the network s best comedy to date.

2. Sisters Kat (Lindsey Shaw) and Bianca (Meaghan Martin) move to town with their doctor dad (Larry Miller, reprising his role from the film) and approach their first day at a new school from two decidedly different angles.

3. Kat is a sharp-tongued feminist with a tendency to overreact; Bianca wants desperately to be accepted by mean, popular head cheerleader Chastity (Dana Davis), who immediately clashes with Kat.

4. Ethan Peck, grandson of actor Gregory Peck, plays the school bad boy, the character originated by Heath Ledger in the movie.

5. Gil Junger, who directed the 10 Things movie, also directs the premiere.

6. Carter Covington, previously a writer/producer for ABC Family s similarly entertaining Greek, writes and executive produces 10 Things.

7. Unlike last month s ABC Family misfire Make It or Break It, 10 Things contains clever dialogue that s rooted in its characters.

8. When Kat s father overhears her taking a stand he asks, Are you talking to me or the Democrats in your head?

9. Bianca, feeling ostracized by the cool kids due to Kat s tiff with Chastity, announces, I guess I ll join show choir. Closeted gay guys are fun.

10. Don t tell Fox s Glee, but as new kid on the teen TV block, 10 Things may not sing, but there s a lot about it to like.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen is the TV editor for the Post-Gazette.

Contact him at: rowen@post-gazette.com



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