Watered Down Entertainments and Vicious Pens

14 07 2009

So, Warehouse 13.

I caught the pilot for free thanks to Tivo/Amazon’s integrated weirdness. In a nutshell: The Obligatory Tough Doubting Chick and The Obligatory Rugged Yet Open-Minded Dude and The Obligatory Casual-Atttitude Sporting Offbeat Nerd are tasked by The Obligatory Mysterious Badass Spook to guard a pile of randomly dangerous stuff and go On Location to various low-shooting-cost parts of America or possibly Vancouver to track down more randomly dangerous stuff using the power of the guy’s “Vibes” and her “I see details” talents and every now and then they shoot a stungun at people.

I was hoping for more, but that describes everything you could possibly want to know. It’s got the depth of a kiddie wading pool. No doubt a haunted kiddie wading pool. The objects themselves, at least the ones shown so far, have little to no spooky, alien-feeling twists to them. The whole thing relies on genre blindness and investigative roadblocks to provide any sense of tension. And, this is the death blow for me, the characters have all the personality of a three minute egg, with predictable little Past Tragedies and dialogue that rivals Roland Emmerich’s remake of Godzilla for the old staple of junior high school level maturity coming out of the mouths of 30-somethings.

You want the same concept done better? The Lost Room has far more interesting and menacing objects with a better mystique to them and more clever applications thereof. The SCP Foundation has your government spook research and cataloging of mysterious artifacts done to perfection. Hell, even Friday the 13th: The Series swings the same basic concept and even the same cast archetypes better than this.

I really wanted to like this, since I like all three of the above, but this was like the Near Beer of that genre. The Shirley Temple of government warehouses of spooky stuff. Pass.

On a related note: Sometimes I thank my stars my own writing remains obscure. I don’t know if I could cope with the kind of dismissive savaging of my work that I just gave Warehouse 13. Obviously you can’t write something that everybody likes, and given I dabble in trope exploration and genre mashups there’s bound to be someone out there who thinks my work is only suitable for papering the catbox.

Thankfully I’m not a big enough target for said opinions to be published. I have a hard enough time convincing myself to keep going on these crazy projects to have to weather the slings and arrows of bastard-level criticism. (One of the many reasons I don’t bother submitting my Mission Architect arcs to self-declared reviewer elitist snob puswads like Venture over in City of Heroes.)

Still pondering the outline for a05. I’ve got my ruined-city problem fixed; now I’m pondering if I want to rely on another situation where Una’s endanger’d. It’s becoming a gimmick, but the problem is that the menace in question WOULD probably want to endanger any visting Orbitals, specifically, and that’s what she is. I might be making it more contrived NOT to have her in the crosshairs.

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20 responses

15 07 2009
raigne

I felt much the same way as you about Warehouse 13 (they stuck the pilot up on Hulu). What’s more, it was the third TV show I had seen that week with subpar acting, a weak story and a low budget feel to it. I don’t know what network did the first two, but I know the network that produced Warehouse 13 explained a lot for me. I looked up and happened to notice “SyFy” and went, “Ooooh.” I kinda feel like a great deal of the original stuff from SciFi/SyFy is crap, so this fit right in.

15 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Well, a lot of it is complete garbage — low budget, relying on five-word concepts, etc. Sadly that stuff does pull in the ratings and keep the station afloat, which means we’ll always be getting more of it.
Every now and then they get it right whether they realize this or not. SciFi also did The Lost Room, which smacks Warehouse 13 around and requests it announce who its daddy is. They declined to pick it up as a series, which is a real shame, considering it had tons of potential.

15 07 2009
jengagne

Arguably Scout and Emily are accompanying Una _because_ she’s likely to be endangered. They’re lucky she hasn’t cluelessly endangered herself more often, really.

15 07 2009
Anonymous

But Battlestar Galactica was so good!

15 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

At least this time it wouldn’t be clueless endanger, it’d be a trap pretty specifically set for her.
I’ll probably run with it. I can’t argue with logic. However, I should watch it in the future when putting her in a headlock to make sure I’m not turning it into a bad running joke. Easily doable, considering I know where the story’s going.

15 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I liked it, but others didn’t.
Still, see above — they get it right now and then.

15 07 2009
Anonymous

I don’t know your exact plans for endangering Una, but perhaps you could have Una escape from the danger on her own. Maybe Emily and Scout would try to save her, of course, but in the end its her own wits that get her out. You already had a part with Esrever where Una thought something along the lines of “What would Emily do?” This would continue on that growth.

15 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I don’t think it’s possible, here. Highlight for spoilers: The Faeries set a trap for any Orbitals who show up to investigate the hypertech cache — a living spore-based plague which is sentient and trained to infect only Orbitals. It’s a defense mechanism in case they come back for what they dropped on our world. The only way to cure it is to either do Zee’s technique (which Una is not skilled enough to do) or to convince it to go away. Now, so far, I’m liking the idea of Emily doing the convincing — but actually, as I think of this, I bet Una could do it too if I don’t totally incapacitate her. I’ll consider it both ways. As you see, it COULD work like that, but that may lessen the threat.

15 07 2009
Anonymous

Ah, I see. That makes sense and seems like a situation that Una genuinely can’t get out of. It’s not the “female who formerly had awesome abilities is incapacitated by villain grabbing her arm” trope.
Though, if I were you, I’d be careful about making Una too useless. So far Emily and Scout have been the action-types. Although I understand that Una doesn’t exactly have army-destroying abilities, she probably needs some sort of resource she can count on. So far Emily has been the heavy-hitter, which is cool, but maybe there should be a scene somewhere down the line where Una has a chance to shine? It doesn’t necessarily have to be this scene, though. Just a scene somewhere.

15 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

It’s funny; I always figured Una would be a heavy hitter. She hasn’t fired her energy blaster once, I think. Problem is the few actual fights we’ve gotten into are ones either primarily involving Scout or primarily involving cleverness to offset unsurvivable odds.
I think I’ll go with what I put in the spoiler, to have Una lend a hand in solving this one. She won’t shoot the problem away, though. It’ll be something more in keeping with her character, which the other two would be incapable of.

15 07 2009
Anonymous

One question: I remember back in chapter two, I think, when Una was being tortured that something was said of how her biology is that of a regular human. If the Orbitals are pretty much humans in space like you imply, then how would there be a virus that specifically attacks them? Maybe I read that wrong and they genuinely are alien.
I suppose, like people of different continents, their immune systems would be geared differently. I imagine the anti-septic, isolated enviroment of the Orbitals is not conducive to disease; therefore, they would have weak immune systems. They’d probably be suseptable to even the common cold.

15 07 2009
xyzzysqrl

Given that there are, I think, about -six- pages on TV Tropes that don’t include a mention of Sailor Nothing, I think at least one of your projects has received wide exposure.
Just putting that out there.

15 07 2009
Anonymous

For an author on the internet who primarily writes original stories, you’re famous. Most people are lucky if they get one reader. But a large fanbase that follows you for years (that description makes it sound like your fanbase consists of stalkers)? I can’t think of another internet author who has that.

15 07 2009
raigne

It makes sense to me that she hasn’t done much yet. I kinda feel like you’d have to really piss her off (like, say, by endangering her friends) for her to move to that level of interference. It seems like she’d need a justifiable reason to whip out the blaster.

15 07 2009
raigne

She also has the blue shift of her technology associated with her instead of the shift associated with Fae magic or Earth humans, so there is something that identifies her as being different.

15 07 2009
raigne

I can think of a couple, but I only stumbled into one. The others, like Twoof, I sought out because I was looking for something like what they created.

15 07 2009
loopychew

Out of curiosity, did you ever watch The Middleman? It’s sounds like this genre meets Men in Black. Also, it’s awesome.

15 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

This is the chapter which will explain that.

15 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

It is indeed awesome. I was greatly Saddened by its cancellation. Very few shows I like last longer than a season or two, it seems. I’m lucky Big Bang Theory has been a mainstream hit.

15 07 2009
tozetre

Dude! I just found this from a slashdot comment; the journal of a man consigned to a year in Deepest Darkest Antarctica!
http://www.gdargaud.net/Antarctica/WinterDC2.html
12 parts or so, this bit is about the difficulties of trying to get anything to work when bits keep snapping off or chemical processes stop dead.

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