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TV Week

The Lighter Side of the Secret Service

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By Susan C. Young
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, July 5, 2009

"Warehouse 13" caretaker Artie Nielsen has devoted his life to chasing down paranormal artifacts and keeping them safely hidden in the warehouse's vaults buried deep in the South Dakota Badlands.

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That single-mindedness is shared by both the character of Artie and Saul Rubinek, the actor who plays him.

"I might have become a semi-celibate monk for the theater. That life of devotion to your job is a road I might have gone down if I hadn't met my wife and had children," veteran actor Rubinek ("Frasier") said. "There's a dark side to that character that is interlaced with a lot of humor. He's not easily defined, and he's a little crazy."

Artie, a Secret Service agent, guides new recruits Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) in "Warehouse 13," a family-friendly adventure series that premieres Tuesday on the newly dubbed Syfy channel. Impulsive Pete is quick with the quip, while Myka tends to take life a little more seriously.

The agents track down, and store, supernatural artifacts -- such as Timothy Leary's reading glasses or Edgar Allan Poe's pen -- that are imbued with a certain energy that can have a devastating impact on those coming in contact with them.

McClintock, who has provided comic relief in his previous roles, said the series offers a pleasant diversion for viewers.

"Why turn on a procedural show about death and murder? I'd rather get a little thrill, a little chill, punctuated with a laugh," McClintock said. "I get to be funny, but strong and smart. Not the dumb funny guy. To be able to play someone who is confident and loving, and at the same time flawed, is a gift."

After the two-hour opener about an evil mask, the series continues with 11 more episodes. It will introduce computer hacker and techno-whiz Claudia, played by Allison Scagliotti ("Drake & Josh").

"For me, this show is about a family, because that's what I do: family comedy, family drama," said show runner Jack Kenny ("Titus"). "Claudia is a little Artie in training, and Pete and Myka are like siblings. The artifacts are used for the adventure, but the show is really about characters."

Kenny knows fans probably will begin looking for Pete and Myka to hook up, but don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

"I want to stay away from the romance, because nothing destroys a great relationship like marriage. Maybe we'll see if they get together in Season 4," he said optimistically.

Kenny and fellow executive producer David Simkins ("The Dresden Files," "Angel") worked together on the critically acclaimed but short-lived Aidan Quinn series "The Book of Daniel."

"The sci-fi is the eye candy," Simkins said. "The artifacts are used to trigger the emotions in our characters. Myka grew up in an oppressive home, and in one story we deal with an artifact that brings her and her dad together. Syfy brought Jack aboard to do a show that acknowledges the sci-fi elements are the icing on the cake, and that cake is drama and comedy."

"Warehouse 13" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Syfy.


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