Warehouse 13 Does Referential Humor Right
By Alex Cranz
Video game movies don’t always suck because of the directors. No. That’s not me defending Uwe Bolls. Yes that is me kind of defending Paul W. S. Jovovich’s husband. Video games approach storytelling from a fundamentally different viewpoint than film. The audience actively participates in the narrative. They don’t get to be objective observers. Also video games stories are ridiculously stupid. Translating stupid to film and removing audience participation? That’s like going to a regular screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. No thank you.
Warehouse 13 skips all the potential kerffuffle by aping on MMORPGs and table top RPGs, where the personality of the various participants are just as important as the actual game being played. It’s what makes movies like Astropia and that World of Warcraft episode of South Park work so well. If you absolutely have to parody video games it’s the only way to do it with any modicum of success.
It also makes it easier for video game nerds to swallow the premise, because dang, Fargo’s video game is kind of terrible. First you have to drink mint tea from Beatrix Potter’s tea set and then you have to battle your fears and Artie’s ridiculous eyebrows.
That’s a few more steps then “turn on tv and sit on couch.” And you don’t even get to take on super cool baddies with super cool weapons! By placing the focus on the characters rather than the wacky world in which they inhabit it makes it easier for a savvy nerd audience to overlook the inaccuracies. The nerd jokes helped though. I saw nods to WoW, Silent Hill, Super Mario Bros., Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Spartacus, Legend of Zelda and the posterizing function in Photoshop. After years of Family Guy‘s insanely lazy referential humor it was so dang refreshing to have some organic and character-based humor perfectly fused with the referential stuff. None of the jokes stopped the action. They all worked to serve the story rather than detract from it.
And “Don’t Hate the Player” was loaded with story. While Fargo’s craaaa-a-aaazy antics were fueling the action of the “A” story it was ultimately about Claudia and her deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. There’s a nice contrast in the Claudia character. Between the genius who can make Leia cinnamon bun headphones in twenty minutes, and the lost young woman who spent far too much time in a mental institution. It’s easy to forget sometimes that a lot of what is presented to the audience as Claudia is in fact just bravado. Her musical interlude at the end of the episode (you know how I love a cast member crooning at a coffee-house!) was the perfect ending for the character. She battles her own fear of psychosis in the game world. That’s nothing something easy to do, and it’s a deeply personal battle that many people face. She didn’t get the luxury of playing it out in her own head. She had to fight and kick and scream while her friends and her crush watched it happen.
That’s enough to make anyone want to crawl into a hole, but Claudia powers through and goes and sings in a coffee-house. If I’ve learned anything from my fifty bajillion friends who sing in coffee houses (some for a living!) it’s that it’s deeply personal and it’s not easy.
The “B” story, where Jinks flirts like made with a lady and he and Artie try to pilfer a Van Gogh was good too. It didn’t mesh thematically with the “A” story but it pushed the season long plot arc forward and gave us out first instance of Artie bonding.
- The boob jokes were flying fast and furious this episode but none were as delightful as Pete’s love for video game Leena’s breasts.
- The last time we saw Fargo on Warehouse 13 it was nerdy, no GD boss Fargo right? So did Warehouse 13 also get sucked into the alternate universe?
- And Fargo’s video game machine? Totally a jazzed up Simon Says.
- The brief bouts of first person action were kind of delightful and not nearly as jarring as in Doom.
- Myka asking Claudia if she was seriously okay had me sighing. We need more strong lady friends who don’t hug with their legs on television.
- Claudia got the short end of the costuming stick. Myka’s barely in the video game world and gets a way cooler costume.
- Between Doctor Who and Warehouse 13 Van Gogh is having a serious sci-fi renaissance.
- Pete’s hatred for HG Wells? Still very much present and accounted for. Yoiiikes!
- As someone with a brother named Peter I found the like of Pete/Peter Rabbit comments to border on implausible.
- Now it is gif time.