With “Warehouse 13″ and “Alphas” set to have their season premieres July 23, it’s time for the DVDs of the previous seasons to come out.
Last week was “Warehouse 13,” and “Alphas” will be out this week.
“Warehouse 13″ (Universal): Season 3 was probably “Warehouse 13′s” strongest, dramatically. It even got so dramatic, I have to admit to being a bit put out by the season finale. The show always had such a lightness to it, I was shocked by the abrupt turn and much darker tones. It just didn’t feel like “Warehouse 13″ to me. (OK, beware some minor spoilers from here out.)
But it was all to set up the season premiere, and judging from the teasers they’ve been airing, the lightness will be back. But will any of their dead friends?
Anyhoo, Season 3 centered on Myka’s (Joanne Kelly) return to the Warehouse after being devastated by H.G. Wells’ betrayal. She’s been replaced on the team by Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore), whom Pete (Eddie McClintock) doesn’t take an immediate shine to. But Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) likes him, and they become BFFs.
Their main mystery for the season is figuring who else has started stockpiling artifacts and what nefarious purposes may be behind that. Along the way, we got to meet Pete’s mom, an awesome Kate Mulgrew (Capt. Janeway on “Star Trek: Voyager”).
There’s also a subplot about artifacts going haywire that never gets addressed, but maybe that’s carrying over into Season 4.
As usual, the team’s chemistry carries the show. Pete and Myka are great together, as are Claudia and Jinks, and Claudia and mother hen Artie (Saul Rubinek). Rounding out the cast are the underused Genelle Williams as Leena and the incomparable CCH Pounder recurring as Mrs. Frederick.
Yes, that’s a lot of people to balance. But they mostly do a fine job (except, as noted, the underused Leena).
And there’s also all the wonderful toys. Warehouse 13 is the storing place of historical objects imbued with mystical power by the strength of their owners. The team travels the globe to retrieve them, catalog them and keep them out of evil hands. With several objects appearing in each episode, I’m in awe of the writers who must come up with all of them. Some Season 3 faves: The Lost Folio of William Shakespeare (because I’m a theater guy), which causes the viewer to die in a way depicted in the book; Abraham Lincoln’s hat, which leads to a great sight gag; and Mr. Mental and Coco’s Mind-Reading Fezzes, which helps Artie talk to his dog. They’re a great mix of serious and absurd.
With the new character of Jinks, Season 3 is a great starting point. Everything gets laid out, but not in a bunch of heavy-handed exposition. You get the lay of the land and great examples of the team at work. They really become a family.
“Alphas” (Universal): I wound up liking this series more and more as the season progressed.
It’s easy to dismiss it as “X-Men Lite,” and it is to a certain degree, but it builds strongly on its premise and does a lot for its smaller budget.
Alphas are the mutants of this world. For the most part, their “powers” are more like enhancements of natural abilities (hyper senses, “reading” radio waves, bursts of adrenaline-fueled not-quite-super strength), and they make a lot more sense on an evolutionary scale than shooting lasers out of your eyes. The powers did get a bit crazier as the season went along, but nothing too out there (or special-effects heavy).
The group at the center of this show are patients of Alpha-expert psychiatrist Lee Rosen (David Strathairn). They become government agents to help protect against a large network of rogue Alphas known as Red Flag. But they get more and more uncomfortable with their role in this hierarchy, which makes the drama get more and more interesting as the season unfolds.
In a way, it’s unfortunate the plots parallel “X-Men” themes so much (X-Men vs. Brotherhood of Mutants, for example, and the whole why can’t we all just get along thing), but there aren’t a lot of avenues for this kind of set-up to take. And they’re at least aware of it and tweak it now and then. I particularly liked the veiled reference to Professor X’s Cerebro (the computer that allows him to track mutants around the world).
Extras include an extended pilot and footage from 2011′s San Diego Comic-Con.
Give them both a look and get ready for the fun to start Monday with the new seasons.