Monday is a big night of premieres for Syfy. It starts with new seasons of “Eureka” at 8 p.m. and “Warehouse 13″ at 9 p.m. Then we get the new series “Alphas” at 10 p.m.
I’ve never been a “Eureka” watcher, so I didn’t take a look at the advance for that, but I’m a big “Warehouse 13″ fan. So here are my takes on that and “Alphas”:
“Warehouse 13″ (9 p.m. Monday, Syfy) – You never know just how annoying 13-episode season are until you get a great show like “Warehouse 13″ and have to wait seemingly forever for the new season. It’s finally here.
When last we left the Warehouse, where the government stores “artifacts” imbued with potentially dangerous power by various historical figures (think “X-Files” meets “Friday the 13th: The Series”), Myka (Joanne Kelly) had left, doubting herself after a betrayal that wound up threatening the world.
Pete (Eddie McClintock), Artie (Saul Rubinek), Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Leena (the underused Genelle Williams) are left to fend for themselves. Pete’s especially down, no longer cracking bad jokes or responding to the advances of pretty, rescued damsels. He even has fuddy-duddy hair.
Enter newcomer Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore — the “Smallville” Ashmore twin), an ATF agent with the ability to tell when people are lying. And a new mystery for the season: Someone wants a bunch of bankers dead and is using an artifact to do it. Plus, a couple ancient statues in the Warehouse are suddenly acting up for no apparent reason.
I only got the first episode, so I can’t say how the whole season will turn out. But I will say I like the new guy, so far. Ashmore doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but it’s still a strong introduction — and a good jumping-on point for new viewers.
And with Claudia, Artie and Leena still there, as well, plus the enigmatic Mrs. Frederick (the super awesome CCH Pounder), the show maintains its vibe. There’s no doubt Myka’s departure left a huge gap in the group’s dynamic, but Steve (or, as Pete prefers, Jinksy) should fit in.
Pete warms to Jinks a bit too quickly, but with only 13 episodes, I suppose they have to do a bit of character shorthand to move the story forward. They can’t be at odds forever. And maybe Leena will get more to do this season. She can read auras, after all, which could be just as useful as a human lie detector.
My one real nit to pick (and it actually applies to several shows these days): The product placement is getting out of hand. This time, it’s Claudia fawning over the Toyota Prius Jinks drives. But I suppose if it gives me another season of one of my favorite shows, I’ll suck it up and live with it.
If you’re a “Warehouse 13″ fan, you won’t want to miss this, and, like I said earlier, it’s a good starting point for newbies. It’s witty, smartly plotted and filled with an eclectic group of characters that makes for perfect summer viewing. Don’t even think of giving up on it because it looked like Myka was leaving for good last season.
Also, be sure to check out the “Of Monsters and Men” webseries at Syfy’s website, where Pete, Artie and Claudia are pulled into a comic book by comic vilifier Fredric Wertham’s (“Seduction of the Innocent”) spinner rack.
“Alphas” (10 p.m. Monday, Syfy) – I had pretty low expectations for this show based on the lackluster commercials I’d been seeing, so I was quite pleased to find that “Alphas” is a fairly engaging show — at least the pilot is.
It’s a low-key X-Men, better grounded in reality with a stronger sense of how things might play out in the real world if people with enhanced abilities existed.
The show’s Professor Xavier is Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn), a psychiatrist who has gathered a group of what he calls Alphas for a reason that’s not entirely clear. It’s obvious he’s trying to do some good with them, but when the government comes calling for help, it’s obvious there’s no love lost.
The powers of these Alphas are nothing spectacular like shooting laser beams out of their eyes, but they get the job done. Nina can override a person’s willpower and get them to do her bidding — to a limited extent. Bill can gain short bursts of extra strength by activating his fight-or-flight response. Rachel can enhance one sense dramatically by basically turning off others. And Gary sees various electronic wavelengths, from TVs to cellphones.
In the pilot, someone from Rosen’s and the government’s past is using another Alpha, super marksman Cameron, to kill. But he’s being brainwashed, and Rosen decides to help him rather than just turn him over to the government.
Cameron is the stand-in for the audience, our entree into the world of the Alphas. But the nice thing about this take on the superteam is that the characters are so relatable. The show takes a page from the old Marvel handbook and gives us a team with real human problems and flaws.
Bill, for example, appears to be former FBI (or something related) and is having trouble adjusting to leading a civilian team. He’s also something of a jerk. Rachel is a wallflower chafing under the disappointment of her father.
Give them a bit of power, and you have an interesting show — all the drama of a super hero team for a far smaller budget. But the intrigue could be just as strong.
Plus, the acting talent is pretty good. Especially Strathairn, who has a great bit with Malik Yoba’s Bill about his doctor voice.
The show isn’t big on bang-pow moments. It’s quieter but a little more intense. There’s not as much humor as the shows that will accompany it on Mondays, but it also airs later when folks might want something a little more serious.
At one point, though, it falls into the trap that many superteam media (movies, TV, comics) fall into: The choice for which hero to send in is based more on what would provide an action sequence than which power would work best in the situation. I hope it doesn’t become a habit.
I wish I’d been given more than the pilot to watch, but “Alphas” will get a spot on my DVR list.