Executive Producer Jack Kenny Talks WAREHOUSE 13 Season 4.5, Appealing to New Viewers, Being a Gateway Drug for Sci-Fi, Season 5, and More

     April 29, 2013

Picking up where the series left off in its shocking mid-season cliffhanger, Season 4.5 of the Syfy series Warehouse 13 kicks off with the shocking revelation that a vengeful Artie (Saul Rubinek) has infected not only the team but the entire world with the deadly Black Orchid Artifact.  The team – Pete (Eddie McClintock), Myka (Joanne Kelly), Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Steve (Aaron Ashmore) – must contain the damage within 24 hours or the world will face a pandemic the likes of which has not been seen since the Dark Ages, all while still guarding and protecting the unsuspecting masses from dangerous artifacts.

During this recent interview at the NBC Summer Press Day, to promote the return of the popular series, executive producer/writer Jack Kenny talked about how they determine which stories they’ll explore with the artifacts, still trying to appeal to new viewers, why their show is a gateway drug for sci-fi, that there will be an arc that goes through the season but that it won’t be as heavily serialized, and that they’re already thinking ahead to Season 5.  Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers

warehouse-13-season-4Question:  How do you determine which stories you’ll explore with the artifacts, and are there any particular stories that you’re saving for later or avoiding?

JACK KENNY:  No. My theory is that, if it’s a good idea, we do it as soon as possible. I don’t save anything because you never know what’s going to happen.  You want to put everything out there, as quickly as you have a good idea. There are some ideas that might be over the top.  We did do a Wizard of Oz piece. Last season, Steve (Aaron Ashmore) walked by the red ruby slippers in the dark vault. And being gay, I said to him, “Listen, there is not a gay man in the world who could walk by the ruby slippers and not notice them.  It can’t be done.”  We try to stay as accurate as possible to history, and I feel like it’s a lot a fun.  But, you should also get some course credit for watching it because you learn a whole boatload of stuff on our show, and you learn it through humor, action, excitement and fun. And I think that’s a good plus side benefit of our show. 

At this point, is it better, in your estimation, to cater towards your core audience or try to capture new viewers?

KENNY: Obviously, every network wants to capture new viewers, but that’s up to the networks. It’s about promotion and getting the name out there.  The press controls so much of what we watch these days. Every TV writer I know is saying, “Oh, my god, I don’t have enough time to watch everything.”  I know that Syfy is doing a lot with the internet to reach new viewers. I don’t watch television live.  I binge watch.  I watch on my DVR.  So, we’re only interested in telling good stories. I don’t reach for a demographic. To me, if you tell a good story, people will watch.  And we tell it with humor, so even more people watch. Because I think anybody watches something that’s funny, and our show is often very funny, thanks to our incredibly talented cast who knows how to tell a joke, it helps reach out to a lot of audience. I’ve never read a review from anybody that said, “I don’t want to watch this anymore because it’s just too funny. I laughed too much.”  We just want to tell great stories that make good entertainment.

warehouse-13-james-marsterWhat would you say to people who haven’t watched the show yet, to get them to watch this season?

KENNY:  This is your Syfy gateway drug.  I’m not a sci-fi guy.  I love Star Wars, Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’m into that stuff, but I’m not the guy that knows the Klingon language. I found about this show through Eddie [McClintock]. I was directing him in a sitcom and he said, “Oh, my pilot got picked up,” and he told me about it.  I read it and I thought, “I would watch this. This is something cool.  This is Indiana Jones meets Moonlighting, with real characters, real lives and real emotions.  It was my gateway drug into sci-fi.  It brought me into the whole world of sci-fi, Comic-Con and all this stuff, and watching Firefly and Fringe, and shows that I wouldn’t have normally.  That’s why I call it a gateway drug. 

Is this season going to be as heavily serialized as last season?

KENNY:  That is a good question. We start the arc in Episode 1, and it’s an arc that goes through the whole season. It is not as heavy as last season because last season’s arc was all Artie (Saul Rubinek). So, it’s hard for that not to land in a major way, both on him and on everybody else. This season is an external character arc, so it’s a little easier to just tap on it, once and a while, like we do with HG. We tap on it, now and again. But, it is a solidly followed arc, and it does land very squarely in everybody’s lap at the end.  We had Anthony Head come to join us, and our arc culminates in his discovery, in Episodes 8, 9 and 10.  It lands very heavily in the characters’ laps.  Myka (Joanne Kelly) goes through a very big life-changing event in Episode 7, and she and Pete (Eddie McClintock) have to deal with that.  It’s very emotional. They keep it to themselves. That also explodes into the finale, and it drives things a lot. We are playing arcs, but we’re also doing the bag-and-tag of the week. We like to keep that engine going because that’s where a lot of the fun lives.

warehouse-13-season-4-eddie-mcclintockHow do you approach writing for this cast, to keep the great chemistry they have?

KENNY:  We write them like family members. We write them like brothers and sisters, and daughters and sons. Everybody can relate to family.  Everybody has a mother or father, or a brother or sister that drives them crazy.

How are you going to be splitting the season up?

KENNY:  We have 10 episodes that are ready to air now, and then we’re waiting for our Season 5 pick-up.  The writers have already started thinking of great new stories for Season 5. We’re looking at hopefully another 13.  A lot of it will depend on the viewership numbers this season, how Defiance does, how do we do, how the other shows do, and what they have in development. But, I’m hoping that we can be around.  This show could last forever because there’s an endless number of artifacts and stories to tell.

Warehouse 13 airs on Monday nights on Syfy.