Review: Eureka (2006-2012 TV Series)

Created by: Andrew Cosby & Jaime Paglia

If you’ve followed my reviews for very long, you are aware of my nearly fanatical love of science fiction as a genre, be it novels or movies or television. For five seasons on the cable network Sci-Fi (or SyFy, as it has rebranded itself) Eureka offered one of the more entertaining television shows in this genre.

Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest there is a town you won’t find on any map, a town where the nation’s most brilliant scientists are all gathered together in one place to better harness their combined genius, working together at the government-funded Global Dynamics in a nurturing environment that would be otherwise difficult to create. Not that everything goes smoothly in Eureka, by any means. If that were the case we would have no show. Instead, we are treated each episode to experiments and projects gone thrillingly awry–from a personal shielding unit that refuses to shut off to an accidentally launched experimental unmanned spacecraft….that just so happens to be manned at the moment. Into this high-IQ environment is thrust former US Marshall Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson), the town’s newly-assigned sheriff, and his rebellious daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson). Carter doesn’t always understand the science of what’s going on around him, but he does usually manage to come up with a common sense solution. Henry Deacon (Joe Morton) is usually instrumental in this, as both a brilliant scientist and Jack’s best friend in town. Global Dynamics is run by Nathan Stark (Ed Quinn), whose disdain for Carter may have less to do with Carter’s IQ and more with Carter’s interest in Stark’s ex-wife Alison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), the company’s liaison with the Department of Defense. Carter’s partner in protecting the town is Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra), an ex-Army Ranger with a love of weaponry some would consider disturbing. Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston) begins the series as Dr. Stark’s aid, but soon gets a lab of his own despite his accident-prone nature. Apparently his file at GD contains the phrase “inappropriately pressed buttons” thirty-seven times, which is often the cause of whatever disaster is befalling Eureka this week. Notable guest stars include Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day.

If I have one complaint with the series it is that there is sometimes a lack of structure. Later seasons have a cohesive story arc running through, but while the earlier season do tend to have a recurring theme there is little other structure. The writers do such things as killing off a major character just a couple episodes into a season (something you would expect in a finale or premier, not three or four episodes in), and Carter’s love life is very inconsistent. He swings between pining after Alison and dating other characters, which wouldn’t be a problem except that in a couple cases the other woman simply disappears from the narrative with no wrap-up. There are occasional cases of time travel, and that tends to completely change the status quo in interesting ways–all good, but it feels a bit as if the writers ran out of stories to tell and threw a “Hail Mary” a couple times. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the show and very much recommend it.

Content: I think this was probably TV-14 when it was broadcast. There is occasional violence or violent outcomes to the many malfunctions and disasters, occasionally gruesome and often played for dramatic effect. Mild language, nothing too extreme. PG-13 sexual content–references, characters heading off to the bedroom where we refuse to follow, characters in their underwear or with nudity obscured just offscreen or behind foreground objects. Stuff like that.

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