Producers hint at the mystery behind Warehouse 13

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

The writers of Syfy's new original series Warehouse 13 didn't arbitrarily choose that number for the title or intend it to pay homage to Jason Voorhees.

Rather, the "13" will directly tie into the history of the enigmatic building housing all the powerful objects gathered by a covert government agency. (Possible spoilers ahead!)

"We just finished a document that sort of tracks the chronology of the warehouses," executive producer David Simkins revealed to reporters in a conference call last week. "In our mythology, the first warehouse was created by Alexander [the Great] in an effort to keep hold of the artifacts that he collected on his wars. And it didn't last long, because Alexander died young, but then the library at Alexandria was a warehouse, too, where research and development and things were stored, and books. And so we've tracked the chronology of empires, and our feeling is that the warehouse has moved from empire to empire throughout the ages, moving to the country that was best able to protect it. It was in the Western [Roman] Empire, the Hunnic Empire, the Byzantine Empire, all the way up through the Russian Empire, the British Empire and then, finally, the United States."

In Warehouse 13, two ace Secret Service agents find themselves abruptly transferred to Warehouse 13: a massive, top-secret storage facility in windswept South Dakota that houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government. The Warehouse's caretaker, Artie (Saul Rubinek), charges Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) with chasing down reports of supernatural and paranormal activity in search of new objects to cache at the Warehouse, as well as helping him to control the warehouse itself.

Simkins elaborated on the show's deep backstory. "It was in one of the early warehouses in iterations where it established that a board of directors essentially would be in charge of it, an ever-changing sort of Supreme Court called the Regents," he said. "And the Regents were in charge of deciding when and where to move the warehouse. I think the longest it lasted was in the Western Roman Empire for about 500 years, and the shortest was about 14 years in ... I think it was the Khmer Empire. So, yeah, we've established this long history of the number of warehouses that have gone through the ages, and eventually, when we get it all polished up, it will maybe show up on the Web site or something."

Saul Rubinek (left) as Artie Nelsen, Allison Scagliotti as Claudia Donovan

Fans will be elated when a host of familiar science fiction faces drop by the warehouse. "Joe Flanigan [Stargate Atlantis] is going to join us, and he is going to be—sorry, I have to do math in my head as I talk, because, like I said, sometimes not knowing what the artifact is is part of the fun of the episode, and sometimes you know right up front, so I want to make sure," executive producer Jack Kenny said. "It's an episode where we're chasing these four sculptures that create something, and we don't know what they create until the end. And Joe is one of the guys chasing it, and James Naughton [Ally McBeal] is kind of his nemesis, also chasing them. Pete and Myka are trying to figure out ... what they're after and why they're after them."

Roger Rees (The Prestige) will also guest on the show for a three-episode arc as Artie's longtime nemesis, a former partner who went bad about 15 years ago, Kenny added. "In the story you'll find out in the season finale," he teased. "But he rears his head a couple of times in terms of the guy that is the warehouse competition, the guy who's also looking for a lot of the same things, and for an entirely different reason."

Battlestar Galactica alum Michael Hogan and Tricia Helfer will also be guest-starring. "She plays a hardcore FBI agent that kind of gets under the skin of Myka, but not so much Pete," hints leading man McClintock. "Pete takes a bit of a shine to her."

Warehouse 13 will also borrow a few cast members from another popular Syfy series. "Niall [Matter] and Erica [Cerra] from Eureka are joining us as a couple of con men that Pete and Myka stumble into in Las Vegas," Simkins said. "[Eureka co-star] Joe Morton is a prison preacher in an episode where nasty things are happening at a Florida state penitentiary."

Warehouse 13 premieres tonight with a two-hour pilot, starting at 9 p.m. ET/PT.