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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Warehouse 13 - "Secret Santa"

     SyFy tossed its hat in the Christmas special ring this year with holiday-themed episodes on two of its shows: Warehouse 13 and Eureka, both of which aired last night. Now, I don't watch Eureka. Not because I think it's bad, but because I missed the first couple of seasons before I became aware of it—and I'd like to start watching from the beginning. But Warehouse 13 did an excellent job with its entry. In fact, it may be the Christmas episode to beat this year for other TV shows. Let me explain.

     First of all, I admit that it was cheesy. The A plot was such as you might expect to find on an ABC Family Christmas movie. A girl whose father has been neglecting her wishes that he return to the man he used to be. A duplicate of the dad, disguised as Santa, writes "naughty" on the man's wall before escaping up the chimney. But that doesn't work in getting the man to change, so the duplicate decides to replace the father by taking his life force. But, of course the daughter shows up and proclaims her love for her father, no matter who he is, and everything is sorted out. Total cheese, right?

     Well, ABC Family doesn't always get it wrong. There's a part of me, and I suspect, many people, since that network keeps churning them out, that likes a good family story in that vein. It feels good to see people change and make their families happy, being redeemed for their mistakes. A little tear may have welled up at the end of the episode, and that's a sign that it's been done correctly. As such, Warehouse 13 captured perfectly that style of Christmas special.

     The show also stayed true to itself. Although they were caught up in the "movie special" episode, Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanna Kelly) went about fixing things the same as they do in every episode where an artifact is wreaking havoc. Instead of the family putting together the clues of what really happened, that's where Pete and Myka came in. It was nice to see that they weren't facing an evil villain this week, but simply a misguided father.


     Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) was the true spirit of Christmas. Stuck at the Warehouse, she tried her best to turn Artie the Scrooge (Saul Rubinek) into Artie Claus. She spent much effort tracking down a piano he loved as a child, only to accidentally find his father (guest star Judd Hirsch), with whom he hadn't spoken in thirty years. In typical Claudia fashion, she went overboard trying to repair their relationship, telling each man the other way dying. When they found out, they got mad, but bonded again over how annoying they found Claudia.

     Now this heart warming story of father-son reconciliation could have been a whole other ABC Family movie. But it wasn't. It was part of an extremely sweet story where Claudia helps Artie be a better man, as she often tries to do. And we got a little peek into Artie's history, which is always interesting. Plus Hirsch was just so welcome and an absolute delight. As such, it added an element that would have been great any time of the year on the show, but was especially appropriate this month.
 
     Also fun were the cool new graphics, making the Warehouse look Christmas-y. The theme song had been retooled with some neat Christmas pictures, and even a dreidel (can you believe that word shows up wrong on the Blogcritics spellchecker?) for Artie. Which brings me to my one small complaint. If Claudia was really trying to get Artie into the holiday spirit, wouldn't see keep in mind his religion? She decorated his entire office for a Christian holiday! And while it was mentioned that Artie and his dad were Jewish in a throwaway line, not once did she take that into account while planning her machinations.

     Really excellent job, Warehouse 13. You certainly set the standard for the year, doing it better than any of the other regular shows that did a holiday-themed story that I have watched so far. Warehouse 13 will return next year for its third season on SyFy, and this episode, "Secret Wants," will rerun a number of times in the next two weeks if you missed it.

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Article first published as TV Review: Warehouse 13 - "Secret Santa" on Blogcritics.

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