On 7th day of Christmas … I rewatched a retro TV episode – Warehouse 13’s “Secret Santa”

(image courtesy Warehouse 13 wiki)

Described by scifi.com as “part The X-Files, part Raiders of the Lost Ark and part Moonlighting“, Warehouse 13 was a show that loved to have some fun, okay lots of fun, with its premise.

Based on the idea that the world is full of artefacts of all kinds, from Studio 54’s Disco ball toLewis Carroll’s looking glass and Marilyn Monroe’s hairbrush, all of which have supernatural properties acquired love, trauma or a host of other situations, all of which had to be stored away safely where they couldn’t harm people, Warehouse 13 made its merry chaotic but well-meaning way through five highly-entertaining seasons (2009-2014).

Along the way, at the end of season 2, it tried its hand at a festive episode called “Secret Santa” in which the two main protagonists, Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Latimer (Eddie McClintock) have to give up Christmas with their families to head to Los Angeles and find out why a Santa apparition is making life unseasonably hellish for rich businessman workaholic Larry Newley (Paul Blackthorne).

Larry, who has a loving though daughter Kallie (Jaime BLoch), who misses the time her dad used to spend with her before he became obsessed with making money, lots of money, is your archetypal Scrooge, a man who has given everything up, bar some token online chats with his kid, and who needs a good old-fashioned Christmas transformation.

But this is Warehouse 13, and so while the idea of a momentous event at Christmas changing your life wholly and completely for the better isn’t that new, the way the show goes about it is delightfully, affectingly original.

For in this tale of old, broken lives made festively news, the target of the seasonal makeover is haunted by a Santa apparition who arrives via vents and chimneys and who threatens dire things if Larry doesn’t mend hos ways.

His methods are, shall we say, a little on the aggressive side and Myka and Pete, who is as usual a tad Scooby-Doo-ish and eats everything in his path, have their work cut out trying to determine which artefact is making all this happen and how.

Fittingly for Christmas that is never fully explained – is it the antique ornament on the Christmas tree, part of Kallie’s big collection given to her by her dad when he paid her real attention? Maybe … maybe not – but what we do know is that Larry does see the error of his ways and reunites with Kallie and ex-wife Lila (Kristi Angus).

If that all sounds a little too sweet and treacle-ish, it’s kind of is, but Pete and Myka have so much festive fun along the way that it’s hard to begrudge them a happy-ever-after ending where Christmas goodwill triumphs and evil is booted back to the coal-in-the-stocking place it calls home.

While the supernatural Santa ghost-y thing situation is being sorted out, Claudia (Allison Scagliotti), in tandem with her reluctant brother Joshua (Tyler Hynes) and B & B owner Leena (Genelle Williams) is working overtime to reunite grumpy Warehouse 13 boss, Artie (Saul Rubinek) with his estranged dad Izzy (Judd Hirsch).

God bless, Claudia she means well, excited after a lifetime of loneliness and rejection to finally have a family to call her own, especially at Christmas, which to date has never fulfilled its promise for her, and you can well understand why she’s so keen to try to put a smile on Artie’s always scowling countenance.

Nice intention, poor execution.

Well, it looks that way at first, after Claudia tracks Artie’s old piano and his dad – they fell out after Artie went into government service instead of pursuing a career playing classical music in the grand concert halls of the world – and brings them back to South Dakota, swiftly and easily without the mess of a moving company (you have to love the magic of TV and Christmas all in one!) for a heartfelt reunion.

How does she accomplish this Christmas miracle?

Ah, that would be by telling each of the recalcitrant men that the other one is dying, a tactic which appalls Joshua but after some bumpy misunderstandings, actually works.

Go, Claudia!

The beauty of “Secret Santa” (oh the many amusing levels of this title!) is that it manages to be moving and sweet without once feeling so sickly you feel as if you sneakily too many of Santa’s cookies.

It brings all its wackiness and sense of the ridiculous to bear on a story that actually has some substantial emotional resonance to it, not so much for Larry and is daughter, though that is charming and heartwarming, but for the inhabitants of Warehouse 13 who discover how much they mean to each other, especially at the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s funny, warm, heartfelt, sincere and over-the-top and it works a treat, managing to pull of the traditional Christmas transformational story in a way that is fresh, original and hilarious and quirkily, heartwarmingly festive in a way that only Warehouse 13 can do.

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